Here's a way for the U.S. government to keep track of you

How easy would it be for the United States government to keep tabs on people via the Internet? Soon, Congress could call a vote against Net Neutrality, which would allow ISPs to deliver partner websites faster than others. While this would be disruptive to the World Wide Web as a whole, this still wouldn't give access to data logs from all ISPs.

Save the Internet: Click hereWhat would give access, however, is the proposed ISP snooping, which is currently gaining support in Congress. This would allow the government to request and track data logs from ISPs to aid law enforcement for various matters. This, however, eats into an individual's right to privacy. It's easy to promote new legislation that hopes to deter the bad guys from communicating with children. Unfortunately, it's apparent that government officials misinterpret the difficulties in policing the Internet. Obtaining ISPs doesn't necessarily give you the exact location of the offending party; it's feasible that the locations are actually spoofed, which again, foils the enforcement. Secondly, users can be located around the globe, so local officials could potentially be out of their jurisdiction when attempting to charge someone with an unlawful act.

Still, legislation could be written to initiate ISP snooping and begin the government tallying of online users. But there's another document that could be altered, in a much easier fashion, that could be detrimental to a free Internet.

The government already tabulates individuals during census counts every 10 years. The United States Census Bureau uses the collected information for general statistical purposes, and by law, confidentially is maintained. The census takers nor census employees have the ability to match individuals to the data collected. The bureau's legal authority is spelled out in Title 13 of the United States Code. A quick wording change of this code, however, could give us an exact replica of "1984."

Buried in Title 13, Chapter 1, Subchapter II, Point 9, the code explains who can have access to the data. Basically, the data can be used only for statistical purposes; has to be in published format; and can be reviewed only by sworn officials within the census. As it stands, the code is fairly bulletproof. Then again, it seems plausible that the code could be rewritten in some fashion, or worse, private companies theoretically could be given privileges awarded only to census offices.

This isn't something that would happen overnight by any stretch of the imagination. But what if the census data were instead collected online, making it even easier to pool the information together. In my latest workplace humor fiction book, "The Developers," the United States government works with all of the major ISPs to essentially build a new high-speed Internet. While the system proposed should allow everyone to connect to the Internet at much higher speeds, it comes with a cost of online privacy.

Maybe the chance of private entities accessing the data is not that great. It is, after all, a fiction novel. But this should show how easy it would be for the government to take action against the Internet. Be sure to click the Net Neutral link at the top of this column to visit MoveOn.org's petition to Save the Internet.