Congress Wants Starbucks To Spy On YouDec 6th, 2007 | By James Lewin | Category: General
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the SAFE Act, a bill saying that anyone offering a Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.
The bill covers individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, government agencies, social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers, and may require that a complete record of a user’s activity be recorded and saved.
In other words, the bill gives companies like Starbucks and your ISP a financial incentive to spy on you.
What the SAFE Act requires:
Anyone providing an “electronic communication service” or “remote computing service” to the public who learns about the transmission or storage of information about certain illegal activities or an illegal image must
- register their name, mailing address, phone number, and fax number with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s “CyberTipline” and
- “make a report” to the CyberTipline that
- must include any information about the person or Internet address behind the suspect activity and
- the illegal images themselves.
The Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act, or SAFE Act, is designed to “ensure better reporting, investigation, and prosecution of those who use the Internet to distribute images of illegal child pornography.”
Democrats rushed the SAFE Act to the floor under a procedure that’s normally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. The act has never received a hearing or committee vote. As a result, Internet providers and others affected did not have time to raise questions or oppose the Act.
The Act is unlikely to meet much political opposition. While the Act effectively encourages companies to spy on you, politicians want to oppose child pornography and exploitation laws about as much as they wanted to vote against the PATRIOT act.
On Sale Now: Your Civil Liberties
The SAFE Act gives companies a $300,000 incentive to watch and record what you do online, and it raises a lot of questions for anyone that publishes content to the Internet.