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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