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For the Love of God, Will Someone Make it Stop?

It is time for us to say to our government, “No. This we will not allow.”

For those of you who don’t like clicking links, I’ll summarize: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wants to require all ISPs to keep records of ALL of your online activity, for purposes of catching pedophiles and, presumably, tur’rists.

Here’s the problem. Senator Stevens has made it very clear that our government does not understand technology. Now, I’m no hAxx0r but I do seem to recall a technology called “IP spoofing” that makes internet traffic look like it’s coming from someplace other than its actual source. So, what happens when someone trolling online for kiddie porn uses a spoofed IP address that happens to point to the computer grannie uses to e-mail her bridge partners? Or some al-Qaeda sympathizer spoofs the IP address of some random Arabic college student?

This isn’t even touching on the potential for willful misuse of this kind of information. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but considering how much of our day-to-day life is conducted online these days — business, commerce, communication — there’s an enormous potential for abuse. Not to mention simple, ham-fisted, governmental incompetence.

I hate sounding like a foil-hatter, honestly I do, but I’m starting to worry that these tiny nudges on the boundaries of our civil rights are not the random flailings of an incompetent administration, but rather calculated straining at the bumper of the juggernaut of fascism.

I just wrote that and even I think it sounds ridiculous. But that’s precisely part of my worry, that sensible, moderate, thoughtful, intelligent people are dismissing their fears as unrealistic, thinking “It can’t possibly be that bad.” But what if it is?

We as a country have an obligation to protect ourselves from tyranny. We have an obligation to say to our government, “You are overstepping your authority and we are uncomfortable with that.” Are we really going to wait for our leaders to throw their capes over their arms and go “Mwa ha ha” before we say enough is enough? I’m pretty sure it’ll never be that obvious.

The problem is that as long as the current administration equates dissent with treason, our fellow Americans will continue to miss the fact that dissent is the purest and best form of patriotism, the purest and best hope for the continued health of this country.

Do this for me: Read the article linked above. Think about how it might impact you, personally, as a law-abiding, upright citizen. And if you come to the same conclusions I did, tell your congresspeople — tell your friends — tell your neighbors — that this is too much. That this near-ubiquitous surveillance does not meet your standards for a free society. If nothing else, please just let your fellow Americans know that this sort of thing is being talked about.

I have to believe that we do still have the ability to influence public policy. It can’t have gone that far already.

Can it?

UPDATE: If you’re interested in talking to your Congressperson about this issue, here’s a great site for finding contact info.