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Protect kids from porn! And give me your credit card, please

BY CHRIS STEINKE | FEBRUARY 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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Why stop online piracy when you can protect children from Internet porn?

A better question: Why only limit the free flow of information when you can do that plus track everyone who uses the Internet?

From the guy who brought you the Internet piracy acts comes one of the most overbearing bills to date, HR 1981 (got it in just before 1984). U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, — champion of small-government — is at it again, raising his pen and pad to the throat of the Internet. The Internet, of course, is just another term for "kid-porn factory and outlet," and Smith is doing everything in his power to put it behind bars.

How does he plan to do it? First, and most importantly, he named the bill so that it could never fail — Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act. That's a nice one. Have a nice time explaining to your 55-year-old electorate why you love chaining naked children in your basement, Democrats. I'd suggest sending a letter. Email can get a bit tricky for those folks.

Next? Make it law for every Internet service-provider to store every IP address for at least year, including vital content attributed to each account.

(Don't worry, dear. That's just a complicated way of saying, "Make it so your grandkid isn't kidnapped, raped, and uploaded to YouTube.")

The bill plans to track child-pornographers by tracking their every move on the Internet. Well, theirs and everybody else's. Scratch that — it probably wouldn't even track child pornographers. They use IP-blockers and other anonymization tactics — something that Internet-providers are not required to account for.

So, uh, yeah. It's not going to do much of anything to attack child-pornography, but it will make it possible for the government to track your bank statements, personal information, browsing history, and credit-card information. I'm sure those tech-savvy government-types will protect it against the most keen hackers out there. (And even if they couldn't, I'm sure that information would be useless to someone trying to kidnap your kid.)

If you don't believe me, believe Smith. He knows tons about the Internet. He straight-up graduated from Yale in 1969. Also, he uses Twitter.

Kidding aside, probably more relevant here is his background in marketing. After he got his B.A. from Yale, he worked as a management intern for the Small Business Administration, then he worked as a business and financial writer for the Christian Science Monitor. More recently, he's learned to make bill names a lot more voter-friendly. The Protect IP Act? Who cares? Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children Act? You care.

You'd think by now there would be someone regulating the names of such misleading bills — but of course, that would be regulation, and the government's trying to get stuff done, here — just like it was when it introduced the Repealing the Job-Killing Health-Care Law Act (a name based on false extrapolation and may actually be the exact opposite of the truth), the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (which actually made it easier for spammers to "assault" us), and the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act (the least misleading of them all, but still my favorite-named bill to date).

These kind of names gives marketing majors such as me some hope that we, too, may make excellent politicians.

Let me try. So I want to make a bill requiring University of Iowa President Sally Mason to give me free ice cream. What I'll do is I'll call it the "Feed the Poor Starving Kittens Act," and I'll bring my cat with me whenever I'm craving the 'cream. Mr. Muffins prefers Rocky Road, Ms. Mason.

I want a bill mandating dollar-you-call-it nights at every bar downtown every Thursday night. I'll call it the "Lower Prices For Our Future Leaders Act." And don't even think about putting Hawkeye in any Jameson bottles, Mr. Brothers bartender.

What else? Who's down for more yoga pants? Let's see here — "Protect Our City's Women From Poorly Placed Nails Act," which of course would mandate that girls would have to wear skin-tight clothes so their pants don't get caught on anything. Such loose clothing would rip on a stray nail, their clothes would be ripped, and women's rights would be violated. So, yeah. Yoga pants.

See how easy it is? Unfortunately, those laws would never pass, because the fast-paced world of the Internet would give way to their true intention.

Wait a minute. I see what you're doing there, Smith. And as a marketing man and future politician, I'm all for it.


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