Monday, January 31, 2011

The Internet’s Free Flow of Information and How Congress Wants to Stop It

Somebody in Washington missed the memo.

It was sent sometime last November. It said that we wanted less government intrusion into our daily lives.

However, it seems that business as usual has resumed.

The recent events in Egypt should awaken us to the dangers of governmental control of the Internet. As in Iran last year, their government has shut down Internet access, including Twitter accounts, and even disrupted cell phone service in an effort to quell the popular uprisings there. It’s an attempt by what we see as corrupt leaders in a foreign land suppressing the rights of the people.

We think because we’re America that It. Can’t. Happen. Here.


What if I told you that President Obama has been seeking that very power since 2009? And that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has introduced SR 21 that currently contains vague language about national security, to be replaced with something more definitive later, that would give President Obama that power?

It gets better. Rep. James Sensenbrenner has introduced another bill that would require Internet Service Providers to retain information on your comings and goings for two years even though you’ve done nothing wrong. Naturally, FBI Director Robert Mueller is in favor of this bill, saying that it would be "tremendously helpful in giving us a historic basis to make a case" in investigations. I’m all for that, too, as long as you have a search warrant from a judge who has reviewed the evidence. But if you don’t have one, then you don’t have a legal basis to know what anyone is doing on the Internet.

The memo they missed also contained something about sticking to that thing called the Constitution. However, judging by this news, they have yet to even check their in-box. They’re still making up the rules as they go along, seemingly blissfully unaware that they have rules they have to follow. Old rules like the Fourth Amendment. Old rules that until recently were scrupulously adhered to in order to keep us free from government suppression.

Hopefully, we’re starting to wake up to the sad fact that we are reaching parity with other governments around the world, just as our President has wished. In the past, we could take refuge in the fact that America really was different from the rest of the world, that our freedoms could never be taken away or diminished.

Today, we see this is no longer the case. In fact, Washington seems hell-bent on a fundamental transformation that reduces our nation to nothing more than a banana republic, with a strong-armed leader rewarding his friends and punishing his enemies.

We used to be better than this. We used to have representatives who were like our neighbors, who had the same values that we had, and would govern according what was best for the majority of Americans. Our country was designed to be owned and operated by the people, not by career politicians.

I miss the old days.

By not reading the clear message that was sent by us last November to get government out of our lives, we feel like we’ve been unfriended. Even worse, our former BFF’s don’t even want us to log on anymore.

If our representatives ever check their email again, they’ll find this somewhat shorter version of the original memo: We want representatives who will slay the Leviathan, not feed it.

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