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Federal lawmakers want to scour the internet for hate speech in YOUR blog posts. Are you ready for President Obama’s Justice Department to start sweeping the internet for content they consider to be advocating or encouraging “violent acts?” If not, get ready. Two lawmakers have proposed such a bill.

It sounds logical if you just say it in passing. Sure… we definitely want to keep an eye out for anyone who might want to do harm to other Americans.

The sticky parts are in the details, or lack thereof. Who’s going to define “advocating or encouraging”? Those are pretty broad terms and may encompass all sorts of things that might or might not be serious issues.

A preview of the proposed bill says the Justice Dept and Civil Rights Commission would:

“analyze information on the use of telecommunications, including the Internet, broadcast television and radio, cable television, public access television, commercial mobile services, and other electronic media, to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate.”

Sure, it could definitely aid in identifying and capturing terrorists. What happens to John Q. Public if his blog post is deemed to “advocate a violent act”? Would it be deleted? Would he be put under surveillance? Would he be arrested?

But given what we’ve seen with government administration like the IRS taking huge latitudes with the powers entrusted them, do we really want to risk empowering another administration with such vaguely defined powers? In the wrong hands, this could affect the privacy of every American (assuming of course that that isn’t already happening!)

At a minimum, it will certainly serve to squelch that First Amendment. Are you willing to give up more of your free speech rights under the guise of looking for terrorists among us? I’m thinking there must be a better way. We can still identify the bad guys without further reducing our liberties. They must be protected. Thoughts on the subject? Let me hear form you!

You can read more on this news report here.

Photo credit via Flickr Carolyn Tiry

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