I'm not really sure how to feel about this.
Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.
The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates.
"While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday.
"Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."
On one hand, it's hard to argue with anything aimed at going after scumbags who target children. On the other, what happened to our right to privacy. Supporters of this measure will, of course, argue that the records are only accessed if someone is suspected of a crime, that honest, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear. That sounds good, but where does it stop. This is a slippery slope. What if the government wants to start tracking where all automobiles to have GPS devices and a database tracking where each car goes? What if they want to track everything you purchase with your credit card? What if they want to put chips in people to monitor where they are?
Perhaps I am going to absurd levels, but the point I want to make is that we need to ask ourselves how much we are willing to curtail our civil liberties in the name of safety.