US Government Pushing Pro And Anti-Privacy Internet Rules At The Same Time

from the figure-this-one-out dept

Ah, the hypocrisy of politicians. We've pointed out in the past how often politicians seem to push for data retention laws and privacy laws at the same time, without realizing the two are in fundamental conflict. It looks like the Obama administration is going through a bit of that as well. The FTC has been threatening to force browser makers to include a do not track feature, that would let people surf without having their data retained. And yet... at the same time, the Justice Department is pushing for extensive data retention laws, with the help of the supposed "small government" Congressional reps who don't even seem to realize what they're supporting. Even worse, Congress seems so eager to push for a data retention law that some Congressional Reps are apparently annoyed that the Justice Department hasn't just handed them a bill to approve.

The problem, of course, is that these politicians don't actually fully understand what the issues are involved here. They're viewing the issues on a very narrow basis. On the "do not track" issue, they think "privacy is important, of course we support privacy -- do not track is important." On the "data retention" issue, they think "well, law enforcement needs to have access to data to solve crimes, and without requiring internet companies to retain data, then it'll make law enforcement harder, so of course we need to have data retention." What they don't recognize is that these two things are in fundamental conflict with each other. Requiring data retention means less privacy. Period. But these politicians never actually think that far.

Filed Under: data retention, do not track, privacy


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  1. identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, 27 Jan 2011 @ 1:06am

    Re:

    Sounds to me like law enforcement is just being lazy, they don't just want data retention, they want it sorted and alphabetized
    Yes I was thinking the same thing. Am I missing something or can law enforcement not, if there is sufficient suspicion of a crime being committed, go before a judge and get a warrant allowing them to intercept communications? Maybe it's Hollywood but I'm sure I've seen lots of arguments on TV police drama over "wiretap warrants". Does that not apply to the internet? Seems to me that if there's a warrant it ought to be simple to trap and retain anything they need and force the ISPs to aid that even above and beyond their normal monitoring and no-one is going to complain. On the other hand, without a warrant.... well I believe that's what the cop shows refer to as a "fishing expedition", yes? "Oh just keep everything so we can poke though it and see if there's anything interesting"

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