House Approves Data-Mongering ISP Snooping Bill (and What That Means for You)

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Namely, mobile devices are exempt from having data logged. Devices like tablets or phones equipped with 3G (or even 4G) can browse worry-free. While it’s nice for average users, remember: It’s an equally easy point of entry for would-be child porn collectors.

Also, there are several easy, very Google-able ways to encrypt your connection using Virtual Privacy Networks (VPNs), which reroute your web traffic through third-party servers, rendering you harder to trace. Plenty of torrenters use VPNs all the time. Lifehacker has a few more suggestions on how you can prevent your data from being collected here.

What’s especially maddening is that any scumbag who wants to download child pornography can take advantage of these same loopholes. Does it make the whole thing feel pointless? Maybe. To me, the main problem is that it feels like a highly inefficient waste of resources (think of all the servers) and a gigantic waste of data.

Already knowing that your private data is out there to be combed over by authorities can be harrowing, but it was already easily obtainable if requested. Prior to the bill’s passing, law enforcement authorities could contact service providers directly to gather data on potential law breakers, and typically it’d be in the ISPs’ best interests to comply.

(MORE: Internet Privacy Controls Challenge Tech Industry)

The question, now, is whether or not bypassing this step will make their jobs any easier, which of course, will be nearly impossible to measure, save anything short of child pornography cases cutting down drastically in the near future. But even then: Is it worth it?

“I oppose this bill,” says Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican and previous chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “It can be amended, but I don’t think it can be fixed… It poses numerous risks that well outweigh any benefits, and I’m not convinced it will contribute in a significant way to protecting children.”

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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