DOJ Demands to Snoop Internet Search Results
Out here in the desert of southern New Mexico, we have few options when it comes to broadband internet. In essence, we have a seriously limited choice between two corporate leviathans—either Qwest or Comcast. Last year I went with the latter, if only because cable broadband is faster than Qwest’s DSL. Comcast’s service is exorbitantly expensive and it took three months of numerous service calls to get it working right. However, now that the bugs are worked out—and if I ignore the shock and awe value of the bill at the end of the month and blindly make out a check—I am relatively satisfied with the service. It is nice to know I do not have to call up an ISP via telephone at far less than 56k and wait and wait for pages to download (and audio and video are basically out of the question).
Now comes word the Department of Justice “has ordered 34 Internet service providers, search companies, and security software firms to hand over information on its customers’ search habits,” including Comcast, in an effort “to prop up its failed Child Online Protection Act.” Of course, this is completely laughable—the Justice Department is not sincerely interested in tracking down child pornographers or those who enjoy such debauchery. However, they are interested in checking out where lots of other folks are going and what they are looking at on the internet and marrying this data with other databases, for instance data collected from the J. Edgar Hoover Memorial Vacuum Cleaner project over at the NSA.
It’s not people who derive pleasure from kiddy porn of even “al-Qaeda” operatives the government is worried about monitoring. It can be argued that the government likes the idea of child pornography because it serves as an excuse to increase their dictatorial power and dismantle the Constitution, as the “threat” of drugs did for decades (and before that, the threat of “communism”). If not for porn and “al-Qaeda,” the government would have no excuse.
All of this will result in higher prices, something I cannot really afford. “The DoJ wants customer search information from AT&T, Comcast Cable, Cox Communications, EarthLink, LookSmart, Symantec, and Verizon. Apparently some have said no and the DoJ is taking them to court too,” reports the Inquirer. Expect this battle to go on for a while—and possibly go all the way to the Supreme Court, as stacked as that institution now is with pro-corporate lackeys and reactionary nut cases—because the corporations appear ready to fight this intrusion, as Google did recently, sending away the feds empty-handed.
Of course, as a Comcast customer, if the DOJ gets its way, the government will know where I have gone and what I have looked at. Beyond the obvious the Fourth Amendment violation, I really don’t care if the government knows what I search for on the internet—if they really want to know what I read, all they have to do is take a look at my blog. I don’t visit porno sites, unless you consider government sites a form of pornography. Naturally, if they get away with snooping logs at Comcast and other ISPs, this will be yet another victory for authoritarian government at the expense of liberty. It will be another chip taken out of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
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