Always beware of politicans pushing legislation because of a personal experience. Declan McCullagh has the story of an astoundingly, ridiculously broad data retention bill in Hawaii
that would require anyone who provides internet access to keep a detailed dossier on every website everyone who uses their service visits (tied to their name). The bill includes a broad definition of internet access provider, such that anyone who provides free WiFi may be forced to keep this same info. Furthermore, it has no privacy provisions at all -- such as requiring the data be encrypted or even forbidding service providers from then selling the data.
The really stunning part of the article, however, is that when McCullagh asks the Hawaiian state Senator who introduced the Senate version about the background of the bill, it becomes clear that the politician in question doesn't appear to know what's in the bill, nor understand the implications of her own bill. Instead, it comes out she introduced it as a favor to another politician who had a "personal experience" this is intended to deal with:
Democrat Jill Tokuda, the Hawaii Senate's majority whip, who introduced a companion bill, S.B. 2530, in the Senate, told CNET that her legislation was intended to address concerns raised by Rep. Kymberly Pine, the first Republican elected to her Oahu district since statehood and the House minority floor leader.
"I was asked to introduce the Senate companions on these Internet security related bills by Representative Kymberly Marcos Pine after her own personal experience in this area," Tokuda said. "I would defer to her on the origins of these bills as she has done the research and outreach, and been the main champion of this effort."
What happened with Pine? Apparently a "disgruntled web designer" had created a website about Pine that calls her a crook and says she owes him money. It sounds like a typical "I don't like this person" website. There are lots of them out there, and they can be obnoxious... but that's no reason to completely destroy everyone's privacy online. Pine also claims that her email was hacked, though it's not clear if that was related.
I'm sure it's no fun to be the subject of someone saying mean things about you online. Or to have your email hacked. Those things suck. But to then rush out to pass massive data retention laws that take away people's privacy seems like a massive overreaction.
Thankfully, with enough public backlash, Pine is apparently backing down somewhat
, admitting that the bill probably went too far. It's great that she's realizing this now... but shouldn't politicians be expected to understand these kinds of things before
they try to regulate?