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U.S. Government Demands ISP Data Retention 355

dlc3007 writes to mention an article in the New York Times discussing data privacy. The article expands on the U.S. Government's 'request' last Friday at a meeting between Robert S. Mueller III, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and the executives of several Internet Service Providers. The ISPs were required to retain data on users, for trials if subpoenaed. Right now they're asking companies to do this. The threat is that, if they don't comply, legislation will follow. From the article: "The Justice Department is not asking the Internet companies to give it data about users, but rather to retain information that could be subpoenaed through existing laws and procedures, Mr. Roehrkasse said. While initial proposals were vague, executives from companies that attended the meeting said they gathered that the department was interested in records that would allow them to identify which individuals visited certain Web sites and possibly conducted searches using certain terms." We originally covered this last Sunday, but more details have been released on the meeting since then.
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U.S. Government Demands ISP Data Retention

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  • Working Clicky (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday June 02, 2006 @09:33AM (#15453289) Journal
    Here is a working link to the story []. Please use the RSS feed from newspapers when submitting stories!

    How do you do this? Go to the RSS [] feed page and select the category your article appeared in. Then do a search for the title and pull the link that declares it to be an RSS user. It's that simple!

    I don't think this is morally wrong as you're going to their site and you're still getting advertisements. Slashdot is really just a hand selected RSS feed so we might as well use RSS credentials. It saves us the time of registering and it saves the site admins some wasted space & e-mail traffic due to shill registrations.
  • Article Text (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2006 @09:50AM (#15453408)
    U.S. Wants Companies to Keep Web Usage Records

    Published: June 2, 2006

    The Justice Department is asking Internet companies to keep records on the Web-surfing activities of their customers to aid law enforcement, and may propose legislation to force them to do so.

    The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales held a meeting in Washington last Friday where they offered a general proposal on record-keeping to a group of senior executives from Internet companies, said Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the department. The meeting included representatives from America Online, Microsoft, Google, Verizon and Comcast.

    The attorney general has appointed a task force of department officials to explore the issue, and that group is holding another meeting with a broader group of Internet executives today, Mr. Roehrkasse said. The department also met yesterday with a group of privacy experts.

    The Justice Department is not asking the Internet companies to give it data about users, but rather to retain information that could be subpoenaed through existing laws and procedures, Mr. Roehrkasse said.

    While initial proposals were vague, executives from companies that attended the meeting said they gathered that the department was interested in records that would allow them to identify which individuals visited certain Web sites and possibly conducted searches using certain terms.

    It also wants the Internet companies to retain records about whom their users exchange e-mail with, but not the contents of e-mail messages, the executives said. The executives spoke on the condition that they not be identified because they did not want to offend the Justice Department.

    The proposal and the initial meeting were first reported by USA Today and CNet

    The department proposed that the records be retained for as long as two years. Most Internet companies discard such records after a few weeks or months.In its current proposal, the department appears to be trying to determine whether Internet companies will voluntarily agree to keep certain information or if it will need to seek legislation to require them to do so.

    The request comes as the government has been trying to extend its power to review electronic communications in several ways. The New York Times reported in December that the National Security Agency had gained access to phone and e-mail traffic with the cooperation of telecommunications companies, and USA Today reported last month that the agency had collected telephone calling records. The Justice Department has subpoenaed information on Internet search patterns -- but not the searches of individuals -- as it tries to defend a law meant to protect children from pornography.

    In a speech in April, Mr. Gonzales said that investigations into child pornography had been hampered because Internet companies had not always kept records that would help prosecutors identify people who traded in illegal images.

    "The investigation and prosecution of child predators depends critically on the availability of evidence that is often in the hands of Internet service providers," Mr. Gonzales said in remarks at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va. "This evidence will be available for us to use only if the providers retain the records for a reasonable amount of time," he said.

    An executive of one Internet provider that was represented at the first meeting said Mr. Gonzales began the discussion by showing slides of child pornography from the Internet. But later, one participant asked Mr. Mueller why he was interested in the Internet records. The executive said Mr. Mueller's reply was, "We want this for terrorism."

    At the meeting with privacy experts yesterday, Justice Department officials focused on wanting to retain the records for use in child pornography and terrorism investigations. But they also talked of their
  • by indifferent children ( 842621 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:17AM (#15453661)
    Maybe even a few of them end up in jail until they can exonerate themselves

    Silly rabbit, they can't hold you in jail for more than a few days without charging you with something, and you could be 'produced' under a writ of Habeus Corpus. They wouldn't hold you in a jail. They would send you to Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo (if you're lucky enough to avoid a truly secret detention camp).

  • by Johnny5000 ( 451029 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:19AM (#15453677) Homepage Journal
    Have you read Patriot Act I and II?

    If he has, he'd be a few steps ahead of the legislators who actually voted for it.
  • Defiance (Score:2, Informative)

    by AnyThingButWindows ( 939158 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:31AM (#15453799) Homepage
    My servers remove their logs, and create new ones once a week. I care about my customer's privacy. If they arrest me, then so be it. But they will have to face a judge, and get his permission first. But the government has no business meddleing in mine.
  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:38AM (#15453860)
    Perhaps. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Remember that McCarthy exposed quite a few soviet spies.

    McCarthy didn't. The NSA or its predecessor did, via the VENONA program, which cracked Soviet embassy codes and tapped embassy communications. McCarthy mostly threw out a bunch of false accusations, hurt a bunch of innocent of people, and actually made correctly accusing someone of being a Soviet sympathizer *less* credible for a while.

    Crying "wolf" when a herd of deer comes onto your property is seldom the correct answer.


  • by davecb ( 6526 ) * <> on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:38AM (#15453861) Homepage Journal
    Different jurisdictions have required by law that libraries simultaneously
    • retain per-patron loan information,
    • retain circulation information, and
    • destroy personally identifying per-patron loan information.

    This looks insane, but actually resolves rather easily.

    To oversimplify, libraries keep statistical information, so they can get their grants for books loaned per year, retain patron loan information until the book is either returned or paid for, and then destroy the link from book to patron.

    This is so common that all the vendors of library circulations systems "enforce" it in software, citing the need to use precious disk space for current records.

    In at least one case, we made it surprisingly difficult to reconstruct old patron-book links from backups.

    Consider this a word to the wise authors of ISP record-keeping systems.


  • Re:What's the point? (Score:3, Informative)

    by HrothgarReborn ( 740385 ) on Friday June 02, 2006 @04:28PM (#15457549)
    but the real pedaphiles and terrorists of the world don't do regular google searches for "how to build a bomb" and "kiddie porn" from the computers in their homes.

    Actually, as someone who has worked with law enforcement a few times and caught pedaphiles, I can tell you they really are this stupid. They use AIM and hang out on MySpace. They use P2P and webmail. They are generally not technically savvy (at least not more so than ordinary internet users). Even if they are rather sharp, the victims and other perps they wish to interface with are not and so they really are quite possible to track in most cases. What's more is unchecked desires make them take foolish risks.

    Do Not Attack Me! I do not support this proposed law. I just do understand that this type of data would legitimately be very useful to find the offenders because they are ordinary people who no more understand how this interweb thingy works than does my boss :) I do not believe however that the tradeoff of loosing privacy is worth the gains, here's why:

    Has anyone thought what weight this would hold in court. Its a log file! A bunch of ASCII text with an IP address. How do we know it is not forged. How do we know it is not full of errors. How do we know who was at the computer. Log files are easily torn down and thrown out in court. They are generally considered hearsay evidence. And it's not the best way to catch these guys anyway.
    Child porn is way down these days. It used to be in the 90's you could search any of the popular engines and find hundreds of web pages with kiddie porn. Now these have almost all been shut down. Newsgroups and IRC have been majorly cleaned up compared with what they used to be and child porn has retreated to the dark corners of the net. How did this happen? Law enforcement infiltrated the groups sharing the porn, they talked to the victims, they set up sting operations, they got warrants and made arrests. We do not currently have a problem prosecuting child porn/molestation without this evidence!! We do not have any greater problem finding the offenders than with other serious crimes. We are arresting and sucessfully prosecuting people left and right through traditional means. This is because this is still a crime that centers on people interacting with other people in the real world. As long as this is the case law enforcement will still be able to go undercover and collect information, they will be able to follow the victims to find the perp, to pose as a perp to find other perps, etc.

    So this is a really long post to simply say that this was nothing more than a Lovejoy gambit. What is really wanted is control and documented evidence on everybody.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard