The Ridiculous HB 492

Today I had to give testimony at the Montana Legislature because, once again, someone with all the technical know-how of a mushroom decided they know how to operate my business. What a mess.

Here’s my testimony:

Testimony on HB 492

You may want to send testimony as well, because this bill is the absolute worst. To find your legislator, click here. And they need to hear from you.


The transcript is below, but it’s just of my testimony. If you want to see the rest of the testimony, it’s online here.

Kev Hamm 0:07
Chairman Skees, members of the committee, my name is Kevin Hamm, and I’m the acting CEO of Treasure State Internet and Telegraph and I rise today in opposition to this incredibly terrible bill. It

Chair Derek Skees 0:15
Mr. Hamm, hold on, please spell your name and then go a little slower. I’m on the old side here.

Kev Hamm 0:21
Kevin Hamm. H-A-M-M, like the cheap beer we’ve all enjoyed.

Chair Derek Skees 0:25
Thank you, sir.

Kev Hamm 0:26
I am the CEO of treasure, treasure state internet and Telegraph and I rise today in opposition to this incredibly terrible bill. Let’s start with the fact that this bill puts restrictions on everyone from consumer to provider that are nearly impossible to do, and that when analyzed invade the privacy of every Montana and in a way that frankly, disgusts me and should discuss to you too. It is the epitome of nanny state interference in citizens lives. From a technical standpoint, we have many concerns about how this could be implemented and where the responsibility lies for blocking this traffic. Let’s start with who is responsible. As it’s putting it on everyone who provides internet in the state. This means that there are multiple layers of checking what you’re doing online, and conflicts that will arise from this, because reasonable people will have different definitions of what is pornography. Famously, the Supreme Court, as Mr. Baker said, has been unable to give a definitive definition of pornography. So I’m not sure how you can expect the ISP to do much better. It’s not like non porn data comes over as ones and zeros. But pornography shows up at sixes and nines, we have to look at every bit in all the packets of all the transmissions of every user, assemble it and make a judgment call. This would require us to look at everything that you do everything. And anything that we blocked or as the bill is written, everything we let through to would have to be documented and detailed and filed. Because we’d be held responsible for what you do. Are you really willing to live in a place like this, you will have no Electronic Privacy at all, not even the very slim bits you have now. And don’t get me wrong, the invasion of privacy that’s possible via electronic means is incredibly deep. The fact is that you agree to a gross violation of privacy when you sign up for a service willy nilly, and give them access to all of your contacts and your phone. But this is far more invasive than that. worse. Given the internet traffic goes over several networks to arrive at your home or office or cell phone or whatever else you have on the internet, your traffic will be analyzed by every ISP, it crosses. So in Montana, you’re looking at something like a minimum of three. And it could easily swell to 10 or more. And we end they would know your entire browsing history. Every app you use all your time online, every link you’ve clicked every video, you’ve watched every bit of text you downloaded, every weird moment, you’ve looked up something you didn’t believe existed or couldn’t conceive of, and we’d have it tied to you. And as close to real time as possible. Think of all the things you’ve had to look up in the last two weeks, plus all the things you did in your leisure time by using your phone, I’m quite sure you don’t really want me to have that information. But this bill doesn’t just give it to me, it requires me to have it and review it and pass judgment on it. Then look, I’m gay, I’m good at judging, but it’s one of our superpowers, I already judged you enough for things I can see without reviewing your internet life. Furthermore, you’re asking for us to do this in real time, without slowing things down for those who choose to be filtered versus those who want unrestricted access. on this front, I have some good news. Because it wouldn’t be slower than an unfiltered internet. Because the way this bill is written, we have to check everything. So everyone’s internet is going to be slowed to a ridiculously low levels in Montana. so slow that we might might as well never bother with broadband because you won’t see those speeds again, we’ll have to hire a team to review everything our customers asked for, again, everything. And that means that you will get it as you get it and you will get it slow. Nothing I can do about that our customers average over an hour of streaming to each service endpoint on a slow day. We’re a very small company, and we’d be overwhelmed with having to watch all of that. But this law would require it, all of it. Remember the last time someone else got a gander at your browser history? That’s the least of it. Worse, how would zoom work? I’m required to make sure that’s not porn, which means I have to watch it in real time. That means your conversations are my conversations. Now some of you might think, oh, they can just encrypt the data and then it can go through just fine. No, they can’t. The way this bill is written, it would require me to be able to identify every bit of traffic on my network. And so because I can’t see encrypted traffic, well, I can see the traffic, but I can’t see what it is. I can’t guarantee it’s not porn, therefore I can’t let it through. So I’m left with only one choice I blocked. So many sites are going to stop working right off the bat because banking is encrypted. But if I can’t identify the traffic, and you’re going to find me for traffic that violates this law, I’ll just stop it can’t even process credit card charges, or use Venmo or the cash app because it couldn’t be porn. And given the results of the results of breaking this law, I’m not taking any chances. So that’s it.

And while there is in the law, the restriction that the information is just for the company, you know for sure that something will come up, and we’ll need to put it in the legal system and the court will review it. And how long do we have to keep it? Where do we keep it? How do we keep it? And does mention of pornography become itself pornography? That sounds like a dumb question. But when you have to describe what’s in the scene, to say why you blocked it or not, you describe it specifically. And then it’s porn text. And that’s a problem as well. My company is the smallest ISP in Helena. And we have data throughput in the hundreds of terabytes each week, and it’s growing every day. This bill would require us to keep copies of everything that goes over our network, incurring millions of dollars in storage costs and untold costs, review and analyze it. And at the end of the day, some of it is still going to get through because we’re human. And perfection isn’t possible. I get that you want to protect children. But the best protection comes from being involved in their lives, and teaching them about respect, the dangers that are available on the internet and the fantasy fallacy. The internet is amazing. But yes, some content can give you. That’s

Chair Derek Skees 6:00
the beginning of your testimony had some good stuff. You’re starting to branch off on to your opinion, please. We’re running out of time. We have a lot to do. So can you eat narrowband your bill or abridge your comments?

Kev Hamm 6:12
Yes, sir. The freedoms that come from an enter an unrestricted internet give us new ways of educating. They allowed this session to happen. So no one I mean, absolutely. No one needs to review your internet usage and question your searches for recipes, cat videos, or whatever else you might be looking for. And I certainly hope you’d understand why. Thank you for your time and please say no to this bill.

Chair Derek Skees 6:31
Thank you, sir. Any other opponents?