Finally, Congress is doing something about those online child pornographers! The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 is supposed to save children from becoming victims of child pornography. What it actually does is let the government spy on you more easily.

Here's a rule: A bill is secretly evil in direct proportion to the hyperbolic benevolence of its title. So, the Saving Puppies And Sending Underprivileged Kids to College Act of 2011 would in fact legalize curb-stomping the elderly. The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, which the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on today, is actually a stealth move to erode your privacy.

See, the Save Tiny Children From Horrible Fates Act, or whatever it's called, would force your internet service provider (and companies like Google) to retain records of your IP address for 18 months to aid law enforcement in potential child porn cases. This basically treats every internet user like a potential child pornographer, and would be a boon not only to cops, but anyone who might later try to uncover your internet activities in court, like record companies or people mad about mean YouTube comments you left about them.

Current laws already allow cops to gather data on suspects, but, as the privacy blogger Julian Sanchez writes, "why spearfish when you can lower a dragnet? Blanket data requirements ensure easy access to a year-and-a-half snapshot of the online activities of millions of Americans."

The push for data retention laws has been spearheaded by Republicans, who in 2009 introduced the "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," which probably failed because its title wasn't as catchy. If you have even a shred of doubt that these kinds of data retention laws are a bad thing, even the Bush Administration had "serious reservations" about them.

Unfortunately, the bill, or something like it, will probably pass eventually since if you criticize something like the Protecting Innocent, Beautiful Infant Children From Gross Old Pedophiles Act, this means you are, if not a prolific child pornographer yourself, staunchly pro-child pornography and a lifetime member of NAMBLA.

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