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Bill would require ISPs to retain all data

A Democratic congresswoman is "horrified" that ISPs aren't backing her proposal (PDF) to require routine data retention. Law enforcement says deletion has "hampered" investigations.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor on

A Democratic congresswoman is "horrified" that ISPs aren't backing her proposal (PDF) to require routine data retention, News.com reports. According to Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) as well as law enforcement officials, investigations into child porn may be hampered because ISPs have deleted user data. Meanwhile Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, committed to similar legislation.

"We have made a commitment with the congresswoman to address that issue," David Cavicke, general counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference.

Two weeks ago, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called for ISP data retention, saying deletion may have "hampered" investigations. At a Congressional hearing Wednesday, Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division, announced a panel of DOJ experts are meeting to discuss the issue and that ISPs including AOL told Justice officials that the data retention issue "is a very complex one," News.com reports.

"The more information we have, the more helpful it is to the investigation," testified Raul Roldan, chief of the FBI's cybercrime division. He noted that obtaining a suspected criminal's IP address provides an important path to locating the physical machine where the illegal activity was occurring.

DeGette's proposal says that any Internet service that "enables users to access content" must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could only be discarded at least one year after the user's account was closed.

But would this law be limited to the AOLs of the world. Under an expansive reading, every coffeehouse and even home users who provide open Wi-Fi could be responsible for keeping all this data. Perhaps every website - every little blogger - would also have to retain this data. ISPs say that laws already require them to cooperate with law enforcement, and that it's not really clear that investigations have been hindered.

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