In a quite frankly insanely egregious attempted breach of privacy, the United States Department of Justice has made it clear that they want to begin tracking your internet browsing history – for life.
Ex-skyoooz me? No. An entire world of NO. My spouse doesn’t even have a right to my browsing history this week. The government certainly isn’t welcome to an entire lifetime of it. And it’s not because I’m looking at crazy gonzo porn or stealing movies off the internet. It’s because there’s no guarantee that other people aren’t.
The Bush Justice Department endorsed such proposals under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Tomorrow’s announcement demonstrates that the Obama Justice Department is following suit and appears to be its first public statement embracing mandatory data retention.
A pal’s parents were caught up in The Hurt Locker’s lawsuit against 5000 people last year after a patron at their restaurant downloaded the film illegally off of a torrent site while having a meal in the family-owned establishment. Her parents committed absolutely no crime, but they were informed by the U.S. Copyright group that they would be held legally accountable unless they gave up their customer information to help track down the individual who did. The restaurant owners refused – thank God. Why? Because while a customer may have illegally downloaded a file, they had no knowledge of it, and they weren’t about to throw a customer under the bus under suspicious circumstances.
But enough about our real life experience on the subject. All of that aside, the government simply has no business in our bedroom, and sometimes we bring our laptop into bed. Zing! In this age of Manhunt, Grindr, and even Match.com, this would mean that the government would know when you are hooking up – and with whom. Totally unacceptable.
For now, the scope of any mandatory data retention law remains hazy. It could mean forcing companies to store data for two years about what Internet addresses are assigned to which customers. (Comcast said in 2006 that it would be retaining those records for six months.)
Or it could be more intrusive, sweeping in online service providers, and involve keeping track of e-mail and instant-messaging correspondence and what Web pages users visit. Some Democratic politicians have previously called for data retention laws to extend to domain name registries and Web hosting companies and even social-networking sites. An FBI attorney said last year that the bureau supports storing Internet users’ “origin and destination information,” meaning logs of which Web sites are visited.
We’re appalled that the Obama administration would go along with this invasion of privacy. And just when things were going so well, too.
What do you think about being watched online…forever?