Son of Base Rate Fallacy

Lamar Smith has proposed to wiretap everything on the Internet:


(a) Regulations- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Attorney General shall issue regulations governing the retention of records by Internet Service Providers. Such regulations shall, at a minimum, require retention of records, such as the name and address of the subscriber or registered user to whom an Internet Protocol address, user identification or telephone number was assigned, in order to permit compliance with court orders that may require production of such information.

H.R. 837, 6 Feb 2007, "SAFETY Act" (Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth Act)

Once again children are used as an excuse for blanket spying.

As previously pointed out by various people, making the haystack bigger doesn’t help find a needle; this is called the base rate fallacy.

Such a law would not make anyone safer. It would cost ISPs a bundle, stifle online communication, and serve as a goldmine of information for private litigators such as the RIAA. Plus any ISP that didn’t record everything would be subject to fines and prison. This is SOX on steroids, forcing information carriers to record and keep records not on themselves, rather on all parties, commercial or private.

The bill is in the Judiciary Committee, which ought to throw it out the door as a risk to free speech.


PS: Seen on Making Light.