Friday, April 09, 2004

Seven Years in Jail for Anonymously Owning a Website (HR 3754)

Republicans are on a mission to increase the size and power of the government. Now they want to make you reveal your home address to the entire world if you own a website and put you in jail for seven years if you don't. Currently, this proposed law is targeted at websites that somehow infringe on copyrights or trademarks but you know how the government works: give them an inch and they take a mile. How long will it be until they have a law that can shut down any blog, like this one, critical of the current Bush regime? If they make enough laws, I'm bound to have violated at least one giving them justification for throwing me in jail and shutting down this blog.

Laws are like tools in a toolbox. The government can pick and choose which tool to accomplish their mission. I saw a show on TV about a traffic cop in Florida who spotted a black man driving a nice car. He chose to stop the driver though he had no reason other than racial profiling. The cop noticed the license plate frame covered part of the county name on the license plate. Technically in Florida, all words on a license plate must be legible so the traffic cop wrote the ticket based on this infraction even though he had been previously warned by a judge not to write such tickets. It turned out the black driver was a police captain from another Florida county and that's why the issue made it to television. The point is, if the government puts enough laws on the books, virtually everyone is guilty of violating something. Even lying about your weight on your drivers license is an infraction.

The internet is the ultimate medium of free speech. The internet has been wildly free now for over 10 years and who has been hurt by all this freedom of speech? There are paedophiles in the chat rooms but it's certainly much easier for law enforcement to catch paedophiles on the internet than under the cloak of the catholic priesthood. The big 5 music producers have been hurt by file swapping but they deserve to be hurt after decades of abusing their cartel power over the consumer. And of course, a few kids have caught glimpses of naked bodies but that is certainly not as psychologically damaging as teaching our kids to fear an invisible superhero who lives in the sky and sees and controls everything and inflicts horrible eternal torture on nonbelievers yet can't be bothered to prove he exists. The internet is one area where the government should err on the side of allowing more free speech. Unless of course, we don't want to live in a free country anymore.

The law before congress is HR 3754

Here are some links regarding HR 3754:
The Register
ACLU

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