HOWTO: Shut Down the Internet

Your pal and mine, Alberto Gonzalez is hungry for more data. He wants to demand ISPs retain 2 years worth of internet logs on every customer.

Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller have met with several Internet providers, including Time Warner Inc.’s AOL, Comcast Corp., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. During those meetings, which took place earlier this summer, Justice Department officials asserted that customer records would help them investigate child pornography cases. But the FBI also said during the meetings that such records would help their terrorism investigations, said one person who attended the meetings but spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were intended to be private.

It is a two-fer! We have What about the children!? moral panic with a nice gooey nougat The terrorists will win! filling.
Discussion on Metafilter led to this ditty – from 1995.

How to get what you want in 4 easy stages:
1. Have a target “thing” you wish to stop, yet lack any moral, or practical reasons for doing so?
2. Pick a fear common to lots of people, something that will evoke a gut reaction: terrorists, pedophiles, serial killers.
3. Scream loudly to the media that “thing” is being used by perpetrators. (Don’t worry if this is true, or common to all other things, or less common with “thing” than with other long established systems – payphones, paper mail, private hotel rooms, lack of bugs in
all houses etc)
4. Say that the only way to stop perpetrators is to close down “thing”, or to regulate it to death, or to have laws forcing en-mass tapability of all private communications on “thing”. Don’t worry if communicating on “thing” is a constitutionally protected right, if you
have done a good job in choosing and publicising the horsemen in 2, no one will notice, they will be too busy clamouring for you to save them from the supposed evils.

More things change…
Andy’s prediction: After scaring the hell out of parents everywhere and fearmongering in the media, this passes to give all the legislators a constituent boost. Then later on, this is extended to 4 years, then 8, then 10. And once they can troll your search logs you can be anybody they want you to be.

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