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Feds contemplate forcing Internet providers to be Net watchdogs


Your ISP as Net watchdog
June 16, 2005, 4:00 AM PDT

The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive 
idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their 
customers' online activities.

Data retention rules could permit police to obtain records of e-mail 
chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity months after Internet 
providers ordinarily would have deleted the logs--that is, if logs were 
ever kept in the first place. No U.S. law currently mandates that such 
logs be kept.

In theory, at least, data retention could permit successful criminal and 
terrorism prosecutions that otherwise would have failed because of 
insufficient evidence. But privacy worries and questions about the 
practicality of assembling massive databases of customer behavior have 
caused a similar proposal to stall in Europe and could engender stiff 
opposition domestically.

In Europe, the Council of Justice and Home Affairs ministers say logs 
must be kept for between one and three years. One U.S. industry 
representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Justice 
Department is interested in at least a two-month requirement.

Justice Department officials endorsed the concept at a private meeting 
with Internet service providers and the National Center for Missing and 
Exploited Children, according to interviews with multiple people who 
were present. The meeting took place on April 27 at the Holiday Inn 
Select in Alexandria, Va.

[...remainder snipped...]

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jun 16, 2005 in category privacy

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