May 06, 2007

Strangling the Internet with ID

Greetings. This New York Times piece gives an excellent overview of efforts now in progress in various states to require verified ID before allowing anyone to sign-up for "social networking" sites like MySpace, and the impacts these could potentially have on all manner of Web sites.

In particular, the article notes the view that such efforts would be impractical and could even do more damage by pushing children (the group these laws would ostensibly protect) toward other sites completely under the radar. The article also recognizes that requiring ID (most likely a credit card) would then provide networking sites (or their third-party subcontractors) with a direct linkage to all users' true identities that could be subject to later exploitation and abuse.

While we all want to protect children, these ID-based models will not do so, and indeed will bring with them a whole host of other major risks.

How long will it be before some bright boys inside the Beltway get the idea of requiring that all Internet usage be tied to verified IDs? This would fit in just dandy with the mandated data retention push, COPA, and the other efforts to turn the Internet into an ever more purpose-built computerized arm of law enforcement.

Wanna use Google? Verify your ID first, please, so retained records can be retroactively tied to you at any point in the future by various agencies.

Too dark a scenario? Couldn't happen? Do you really want to bet against me on this one given current trends?

Of course, we can still turn the tide, working together as consumers and Internet service providers alike. We can tell the politicos that enough is enough. But will we? Or will it be business as usual?

Place your bets.


Posted by Lauren at May 6, 2007 02:35 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein