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Congress May Consider Mandatory ISP Snooping 310

An anonymous reader writes to mention a story covering a most disquieting trend in the House of Representatives. From the article: "Colorado Rep. Diana 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 not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed. It's not clear whether that requirement would be limited only to e-mail providers and Internet providers such as DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable modem services. An expansive reading of DeGette's measure would require every Web site to retain those records."
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Congress May Consider Mandatory ISP Snooping

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  • by STDOUBT ( 913577 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @07:59AM (#15227213)
    Citizens may consider a different Congress.
    • by tenchiken ( 22661 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @09:21AM (#15227449)
      The one thing I would suggest is that people should go hit c-span and watch the briefings and testimony that lead to Degette to push this law. This solution to the problem won't work, and I think we as a technical community can come up with a better fix to the darker side of the internet, but the testimony is the most horrific thing I have seen on CSPAN this year (with the exception of the budget negotiations).
      • by tedrlord ( 95173 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @04:53PM (#15229326)
        Personally, I really don't want to know. I'm sure the testimony is terrible and disturbing, and involves terrible, terrible things. But I don't think it justifies anything near the measures taken here, and I really doubt that they will restrict themselves to using these records for child pornography purposes.

        Thinking about it, I -really- hate the government for going on about child pornography this much. I know a lot of people who were sexually abused as children, and I've heard enough stories of how it happened, and not once did it involve this "child pornography" that the government fears so much. Child abuse is a horrible, disgusting thing, and the fact that they're focusing on this small minority of cases where they film it, presumably because if they can't see it happening it's not real, pisses me off a lot.

        Child sexual abuse has little to nothing to do with the internet, and the fact that they use something so serious as an excuse to restrict privacy makes me extremely angry.
    • Or consider hosting in different (more free) country.

      Is there any "more free" country? Let me know! I'm afraid that all the politicians from all the countries all over the world were attending the same school of politics... :-(

      If I hear that the same things happen in Russia then I say: "What do you expect from the totalitarian regime?". And now - what I'm supposed to say about America? If I'll try to be unbiased then I must say the same sentence no matter what country it is. :-|

      So I say: "What do you expect
    • Yes, they can...but they won't.

      People are sheep.

      (I live just outside Rep. DeGette's district, but sent her a lengthy comment anyway. Will it make a difference? No.)
    • Good luck trying to convince 100M Americans to vote for something that's not democratic or republican...
    • by rben ( 542324 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @12:04PM (#15228161) Homepage
      I write fiction, so I look up all sorts of wierd things on the Internet. At one point I was researching the layout and construction of buildings at Cape Canaveral because one of my stories is about people stealing the space shuttle just before a category six hurricane. It wouldn't be hard for a paranoid sort to imagine that I was planning some attack.

      Anyone remember the movie, "The Man with One Red Shoe?" Anyone can appear guilty if placed under enough scrutiny.

      We need to fight back. We are losing the war on terror, because we are helping the terrorists. We are allowing our representatives to take away our liberties in exchange for empty promises of security. If we allow this to keep going forward, we'll be giving up our liberty for good. To paraphrase an old quote, all it takes for evil to triumph is for the rest of us to do nothing.

      The U.S. has enemies and we need to be vigilant in our defense against them. But how is this change going help protect us? The sheer volume of information being kept will be prohibitive. Those that are really up to mischief will find a way around this monitoring. The rest of us will have our every experience on the web left open to scrutiny.

      I can easily imagine people writing viruses that cause your computer to visit all sorts of questionable sites, so that millions of innocent people now have profiles that match those of the terrorists the government is looking for.

      I don't know how to solve the problem of terrorism, but I do know that taking away my rights isn't part of the solution. The U.S. needs to stand as a beacon of liberty. We should be the one place in the world where you can be sure that you are in no danger from the government if you have done nothing wrong.

      Fight back. Vote against anyone who tries to take away your rights, and remember, the Bill of Rights was meant to protect the most important rights, not to list the only rights you have.
  • by BlackMesaLabs ( 893043 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:01AM (#15227219)
    Who runs the country? The mega-companies, or the government? what do congress think they are doing? do they have any idea how much this would COST the ISP's and hosting companies??!
    • by daybot ( 911557 ) *
      > Do they have any idea how much this would COST the ISP's and hosting companies??!

      Um, a few mag tapes? All ISPs need to do is record the contact details and names of its subscribers, along with a record with time, date and duration of each DHCP lease. Websites will need to keep their usual access logs for longer.

      This is all done already, they're just making it mandatory and specifying a minimum time for records to be kept...

    • by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:19AM (#15227269)
      > do they have any idea how much this would COST the ISP's and hosting companies??!

      The cost is of course passed directly onto consumers in the form of higher charges.

      It's agonizingly ironic; that Congress forces us to pay for the removal of our privacy.

      • I heard that in Soviet China, when a political prisoner is executed, the family is charged for the cost of the bullet. But this maybe an unfounded rumor. However in Soviet States of America this actually is becoming the reality.
      • Its a VERY old story (Score:3, Interesting)

        by woolio ( 927141 )
        It's agonizingly ironic; that Congress forces us to pay for the removal of our privacy.

        Look to one of the oldest books: The Bible. In that day, the government supposedly made Jesus carry his own cross up a hill before nailed him to it.

        In essence, they made him fund the means toward his own execution.

        Now in modern times, the government is making citizens fund the removal of their own privacy? I am not surprised.

        Also interesting is to note that the former was considered a criminal and a terrorist (af
      • "The cost is of course passed directly onto consumers in the form of higher charges."

        Along with a 15% processing charge. It's not a loss of rights, it's a market opportunity.

    • by JonTurner ( 178845 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @09:26AM (#15227459) Journal
      Think of the unintended consequences. If this passes, I think we can expect the free internet at coffeehouses, libraries, airports, etc. to end quite abruptly. Maybe we'll have to present a national ID card first...

      I know your questions are rhethorical, but from this Conservative Libertarian's viewpoint:
      1. Who runs the country? Lobbysts, and those who hire them. The will of the people is little more than a quaint notion. Just look at this Amnesty program for ILLEGAL aliens. 80% of America is against it from recent opinion polls, but the politicians don't care. Same goes for the Dubai ports deal. America's against it, but the politicians will make it work anyway.
      2. What does Congress think it's doing? Whatever the hell it wants. It's not like that 10th Amendment to the Constitution applies any more. Seriously, have you ever (EVER?) heard any poliician say "We can't do that, that's a State Right?" or "We can't pass a law requiring XYZ, that violates the 10th Amendment?" Nobody else has either.
      3. Do they have any idea how much it will cost? No. Like they care. It won't cost THEM anything. That's your problem, buddy. Now get back to work paying your taxes. (Speaking of taxes, Tax Amnesty Day is the 3rd of June for 2006, meaning that if the tax burden were evenly distributed, the average person would work from Jan 1 to June 3 just to pay their taxes for that year. Now consider that 49% pays no federal taxes. Don't believe me? Go to the IRS web site and look it up yourself. s [])

      Anything else I can clear up for you?

      (And moderators, just because you disagree, it doesn't mean it's "flamebait" or "troll". It could simply indicate that I'm an idiot.)
    • > do they have any idea how much this would
      > COST the ISP's and hosting companies??!

      It is a vile and awful truth that cost is the one thing that might defeat such proposed bills.
    • Ummm didnt you get the memo? The Corporations bought the government quite a while ago.

      As far as cost, it will cost *them* nothing. They will just pass it along to you and I. Just like they already do with other 'fees'.
    • Who runs the country? The mega-companies, or the government?

      if you explain the difference to me, I might be able to answer the question.
  • by USSJoin ( 896766 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:08AM (#15227238) Homepage
    What, officer? No-- I run a highly unpopular website. Indeed, no one ever comes here. Can I prove it? Absolutely. You see, I keep extensive logs, and those logs clearly show that no one has ever been here.

    What's that you say-- that you went here? Well, I am sure that you accessed some other page, merely masquerading as my page. Those phishers, you know. Very sneaky.
    • Don't give them ideas! They are going to mandate chaining the logfiles with a hash...
    • Every web site in the USA print out their access logs at the end of the month and send them to the rep DeGette. If she wants those records kept, she should volunteer the storage.

      On a side note, yay, someone I can finally vote against come the next election! I'll drop her an email and explain why I'll be voting against her when the next election comes up.

    • They;ll use something built into the TPM chips to do the logging and hashing so it cannot be user-tamperable and still valid. Mark my words- this is what will be done.
  • What for? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:08AM (#15227240)
    Yay, this time the EU came before the US when it came to spending billions for zip.

    What's it good for? Finding some terrorists (the excuse here)? Or child porn traders (the other excuse here)? What is it REALLY used for? P2P snooping. It's that simple.

    Now, you cannot store everything that's been sent through the 'net. It's simply BY FAR more than you could credibly store. If they are dumb enough to demand that, it's time to buy HEAVILY into Samsung, Seagate and Matrox stocks. Over here, they are storing "connection data". I.e. who talks with whom.

    Now, it might be me, but hasn't that already been rendered useless with projects like TOR and ANTS? Where your data is sent through multiple non-logging hops?

    In other words, ISPs will have to spend more money on hardware. Since ISPs aren't some charity organisations, this means they have to up their prices to cover the additional expense. In other words, the 'net gets more expensive.

    And this, in turn, means that you're going to fall behind, in use and availability of the 'net, to those nations that aren't dumb enough to demand some pointless logging.
    • Now, you cannot store everything that's been sent through the 'net. It's simply BY FAR more than you could credibly store.

      You didn't think it was merely a coincidence that the term for an unfeasibly large amount of data storage is a "Library of Congress", did you?
    • I don't understand how you can catch anyone doing anything without knowing what the content exchanged in a connection was. Say I connected to does that mean I broke law?? I'm assuming the same goes for child porn. How do you know what was data was exchanged? I'm just not seeing the big picture.

      What happens if your computer is hacked and used to host child porn? So there's all these dude out there with child porn and logs of connections with your computer and they find child porn on your co
    • Re:What for? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 )
      Now, it might be me, but hasn't that already been rendered useless with projects like TOR and ANTS? Where your data is sent through multiple non-logging hops?

      Simple! When NOT logging becomes illegal, only criminals won't be logging.

      I should think such anonymizing services would be rendered illegal.

      *shudder* God I hope we're all wrong and this never happens. Life just seems to damned Orwellian nowadays it isn't funny.
    • Seems separately they (Google AND the US govt agencies) are trying to create realtime-neural net awareness, or some sort of "Mind of God" (Remember Bolts from the Gods" "Hand of God", "Eye of God" projects?) wherein the agents are "plugged-in", or "on the net" via some synaptic hookup.

      I mean, maybe in 15 years, they'll have a crude mind-meld "Your thoughts are my thoughts". It won't be two-way but by then, maybe the govt will have "Mind MELT" capabilities, a la "Telephon". Talk about MIND COPS/THOUGHT POLIC
  • by Astatine210 ( 528456 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:15AM (#15227259) long as we, the public, can get to see which web site you've visited, and get to see the emails you're sending and recieving.

    What's that, Congressman? "Invasion of privacy" you say? Goodness, so it is.
  • by j0e_average ( 611151 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:17AM (#15227263)
    We are witnessing, first hand, the effects of government education. The lack of any meaningful civics classes in the last 35 years is one reason why our elected officials keep pulling this anti-American crap out of their arses. They can't help it -- they are ignorant fools.
    • What we are witnessing is the good-life effect. We are a couple generations out from the last "good" war, where the enemy was clearly the enemy and people were willing to risk their lives to defend what is right. Out of struggle comes the realization that our ideals are more than just words.

      Every single kid in our public education system today learns about the costs and importance of freedom, but without any real life experiences to back them up, these teachings are easy to take for granted. We have beco
  • The Bush administration's current position is an abrupt reversal of its previous long-held belief that data retention is unnecessary and imposes an unacceptable burden on Internet providers. In 2001, the Bush administration expressed "serious reservations about broad mandatory data retention regimes."

    Looks like it's time for Minitru to step in.

    "The administration has always seen it as a necessary step at stopping Goldst^H^H^H^H^H^H Bin Laden."

    That, and we've always been at war with Eastasia.
  • by I am Jack's username ( 528712 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:43AM (#15227333)
    I'm getting 504s on TFA [] and Google News' link to the ZDNet article covering it []. Is it very different from what Reuters is repoting on what Zimbabwe's doing []?
  • by Gablar ( 971731 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @08:52AM (#15227352) Journal
    Is it just me or a law like this is just a police state waiting to happen? This type of information would be ideal for the profling of american citizens. I imagine this works a lot like spyware. It learns from the website you visit and from there computers put you into different categories. If we are lucky it will be something like:

      Cat I. Terrorist
      Cat II. Child molesters
      Cat III. Everyone else

      Regretably once that system is in place what will happen is this.
        Cat I. Terrorist
        Cat II. Child molesters
        Cat III.Dangerously liberal
        Cat IV. Dangerously conservative
        Cat V. Too smart
        Cat VI. ????

        From there on, all they have to do is keep all the dirt they can on the subjects. If they ever present a problem for the goverment( by voicing their opinions), discredit them. Voila, they have absolut power. All they have to do is keep gas cheap, TV entertaining and food plentiful an the rest of the american citizenry will follow in line.
    • > Is it just me or a law like this is
      > just a police state waiting to happen?

      WAITING? We're already there. Welcome to the (pre-bobble) world.
  • Maybe we should just let congress tag our ears like roaming herd and get this whole thing over with. I mean, that's where they wanna go with this anyway, right?

    As long as they let us choose our own colors for the tags, I think we'd agree as a society to go along with it.

    "Oh you chose red? You know the the fashion conscious monitoring target nowadays goes for more of an earth tone, maybe forest green or tope."

    Yeah, that would work. :-\

    Tom Caudron []
  • by Fear the Clam ( 230933 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @09:10AM (#15227409)
    Considering how often this sort of thing is staring to come up, I think it's time to start a bounty fund. The next time some elected person starts up with this nonsense, the fund should be used to reward any ISP or IT operator/technicians who post a list of every site and e-mail address visited, mailed to, or received by the representative, his or her spouse, and his or her children.

    After all, of they think it's such a great idea, and not at all an invasion of privacy, they won't mind, will they?
  • Maybe it's time to borrow an idea from SpamCop and start something called PorkCop. This would offer monthly rankings of Washington politicians, listing how much they've banked in "campaign contributions", "research" and general pork-barelling from which corporations. Naturally there would be appealing, baby-kissing photographs, links enabling you to offer your own contributions (or, if you have no money, your prayers) and cross-references to all the favours I mean "laws" these fellows are proposing.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @09:17AM (#15227438)
    The we may be seeing the beginnings of a dictatorship here in the United States. We should heed her warnings.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    More encryption products need to be made available. They don't have to be completely full proof, just easily available. Built into products by default so it can get in the hands of the general public. Because huge surveillance is on its way. Its coming and it wont be stopped, it can only be prolonged.

    Encryption is going to be the answer. Its like people getting random searches at the airport. More time and resources is required to open up each persons luggage. We shouldn't all be carrying our personal items
  • So, the "land of the free", huh?

    Sometimes I'm really glad I don't live in America.
  • So, basically, this is a feel-good wank by the Congress that passes some vague and relatively innoxious wording that gives the FCC the final power to determine broad overpowering details. Looks like a poster child for why there has to be some oversight on legislation by bureaucracy.
  • Just for the record, the "representative" pushing this is a Democrat.
  • They must have discussed the "harmonizing" of Internet regulations, to have the US government monitor Internet communications as actively as China does.
  • Umm they have already considered it, now they are just trying to find a way to get the public to accept it and ram it thru.

    Can you say manadatory encryption of all content? ( at least until they ban encryption that does not have the governmental backdoor, then content wont matter as just the 'act of hiding' will be enough to get you jailed )
  • My foot. Bastards.

    The US Constitution has been nullified by the corporations buying the government. Its no longer governent 'for the people, by the people'.
  • Who's views does this represent? Not mine. Not anyone's I talk to. Who do these politicians think they are? No one wants this shit, except those in power. Its time we take back what is rightfully ours - our government.
    • What I hear is that most influencial politicos (and influencial PoliSci academics) take the view that most of the population do not know what is in their own best interest, and the job of the politician is to look out for the public's best interest (even if the public does not agree). Some issues, as goes their reasoning, are too complex or nuanced for the lay public to understand or to form a rational opinion on. Also the people's whims and wishes might not be constructive for society as a whole.

      Thus it
  • This may be inevitable -

    But consider a future where high speed ubiquitous full duplex internet access is available. I know this is a big "if" and I don't want to debate it here - suffice it to say that it is likely to happen soon (think WImax and Fiber to the home currently in rollout)

    Won't Darknet(s) and Freenet become feasible? They are not now because broadband is so limiting (throttled uploads) - but when a good portion of us are lit up on glass won't we be able to say ... "Fuck the mandated snooping!"
  • A couple months ago I wrote up proposed legislation that would have gone far beyond what this law would do. Under my bill, each national-ID-card-carrying citizen would be required to spend 50% of their waking life spying on other people, recording everything they ate, everybody they interacted with, and every store they might walk into. No, I am afraid that simply watching what people do online is insufficient for creating Planet Nerf, where everything is soft, safe, and votes for Jesus. This is because the
  • As telephony moves to voice over IP, this will mean that phone calls, too, will be recorded.

    This will be extremely useful in proving political corruption. Examining all calls between K Street, Capitol Hill, and the White House should provide enough information to put quite a number of politicians in jail.

  • any Internet service that 'enables users to access content'

    Sign up for my new supplementry internet service, $9.99 per month.

    This internet is fully in compliance of all relevant "mandatory data retention" laws. This is a supplementarty post-only internet service, and does not enable users to access any content of any sort. We recommend all users also subscribe to a second service for all of their content access needs.

  • A close friend of mine works for a large local ISP and web hosting provider. He fears that mandantory detailed logs will drive his company out of business. The telco in our area is actually a customer-owned cooperative that somehow managed to absorb a bunch of exchanges once owned and operated by GTE and USWest. Despite its size, the telco is barely staying in business. Telco equipment is expensive, maintaining and trenching cable is expensive. Energy prices rise. Customers are switching to cell phones and

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev