Late last month, while Washington, D.C., was focused on the debt ceiling, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation that could have long-term consequences on Internet privacy.
The bill requires all Internet service providers to save their customers' IP addresses — or online identity numbers — for a year. The bill's stated purpose is to help police find child pornographers, but critics say that's just an excuse for another step toward Big Brother.
"It's the China-style approach to law enforcement," says Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. He points out that police already have the power to tell an ISP to save its records for 90 days, which can be renewed — but just the records for a particular suspect.
"What this is about is saving the data about everyone's use, just in case someone might become a suspect," he says.