June 29, 2006 11:38 AM PDT

Congress targets social-networking sites

The concept of forcing companies to record information about their users' Internet activities to aid in future criminal prosecutions took another twist this week.

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, originally proposed legislation (click here for PDF) in April that would require Internet service providers to retain activity logs to aid in criminal investigations, including ones involving child abuse.

Now DeGette and some of her colleagues in the House of Representatives are suggesting that social-networking sites should be required to do the same thing.

"How much would it cost your company to preserve those IP addresses?" DeGette asked at a hearing on Wednesday that included representatives from Facebook, Xanga and Fox Interactive Media, the parent company of MySpace. "You're going to store the data indefinitely?"

An IP address is a unique four-byte address used to communicate with a device on a computer network that relies on the Internet Protocol. An IP address associated with CNET.com, for instance, is 216.239.113.101.

Michael Angus, executive vice president of Fox Interactive Media, said he agrees with the idea of data retention for MySpace. "As a media company, Fox is very committed to data retention," Angus said. "It helps us police piracy."

Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, added: "Why can't data that links IP addresses to physical addresses be stored longer?"

The concept of mandatory data retention was pioneered by the European Union, which approved such a requirement for Internet, telephone and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers last December. A few months later, the Bush administration endorsed the idea, with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales calling it "an issue that must be addressed" and--as first reported by CNET News.com--following up in private meetings with Internet providers.

In those meetings, Justice Department representatives went beyond the argument that data retention was necessary to protect children--and claimed it would aid in terrorism investigations as well.

During Wednesday's hearing, politicians also claimed that social-networking sites were not doing enough to verify that their users who claimed to be a certain age were telling the truth. (Recent news reports have said that sex predators are using MySpace and similar sites to meet up with teens.)

"There is more you can do," DeGette said. "You can do algorithms that will go beyond just the date of birth that they register, to start to weed out some of the underage users." She also called for the companies to participate in a "national public service program" to distribute an educational video.

Two paths for data retention
Data retention legislation could follow one of two approaches, and it's not entirely clear which one U.S. politicians will choose.

One form could require Internet providers and social-networking sites to record for a fixed time, perhaps one or two years, which IP address is assigned to which user. The other would be far broader, requiring companies to record data such as the identities of e-mail correspondents, logs of who sent and received instant messages (but not the content of those communications), and the addresses of Web pages visited.

Earlier in the week, Internet companies tried to forestall potentially intrusive new federal laws by launching a campaign against child pornography designed to tip off police to illegal images. Participants include AOL, EarthLink, Microsoft, United Online and Yahoo.

In addition, Comcast announced that it will begin to retain logs that map IP addresses to user identities for 180 days, up from its current policy of 31 days. (The company stressed that it does not record information such as "Internet use or Web surfing habits.")

But Rep. Joe Barton, the Texas Republican who heads the Energy and Commerce Committee, said even after hearing the news, that he still wanted to enact "a comprehensive anti-child-pornography" law. "I think the Congress is tired of talking about it," Barton said, adding that it was time to "protect our children against these despicable child predators that are on the loose right now in our land."

Barton has not released details about his legislation.

This isn't the first time that MySpace and social-networking sites have faced criticism from politicians--and the threat of new federal laws.

A bill introduced last month by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, would cordon off access to commercial Web sites that let users create public "Web pages or profiles" and also offer a discussion board, chat room or e-mail service. It would affect most schools and libraries, which would be required to render those Web sites inaccessible to minors, an age group that includes some of the category's most ardent users.

In addition, politicians proposed a slew of related measures this week, including blocking access to off-color Web sites for all Americans, dispatching "search and destroy" bots that would seek out illegal content, regulating search engines and targeting peer-to-peer networks.

See more CNET content tagged:
IP, IP address, MySpace, Internet provider, Rep.

31 comments

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Posted by mystereojones (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Child predators are the new terrorists
I like how they say this will help track terrorists too. Those damned terrorists and thier MySpace profiles. We aren't after terrorists anyway. If we were the news would focus on afganastan and now Iraq. Iraq had nothing to do with us being attacked, yet there we are, and there is our focus.

Child porn is and has been a issue on the net. Many ISP used to shut down hacker boards and leave up pedofile disscussions(AOL).

Lets make a law, where if you child posts pics of her cleavage online the parents get fined. Or lets make a law where every over reaching law kicked back by the Supreme court costs the Senators who voted for it there yearly salary. Those who put the bill forward must step down.

WE ARE TOUGH ON CRIME right before the election. So we are after terrorists and Kiddy porn. But what if I post a picture of a post leaf and that becomes illeagle. Will you use these records to come after me?

What if I post what a sad state I think this country is in. Will you then follow me around and track me like the Feds did in the 70's to pop icons? The terrorists then were Communists... Ohhh NOOOO not communists.

Al Queda vists Bush shortly before we are attacked
Fact!

We kill Sadamn Husein but not Bin Laden
Fact!

Oil Companies have prices up to $4.00 a gallon in some places and report record profits.
Fact!

The internet as we know it is about to change
Fact!

Illeagle aliens are crossing our borders in numbers so high local border residents are threatening to shoot them.
Fact!

National Guard is deployed with no power to detain or stop illeagle alien crossing
Fact

Fast Food jobs are considered manufacturing jobs thanks to Bush administration(don't trust the numbers guys)
Fact!


Is mySpace really worth my tax dollars? Are Senators really that out of touch? Sad to say, most americans are fat dumb idiots who watch TV every night and can't seem to think for themselves. They do not call it programming for nothing guys.
Posted by Central_office_tech (49 comments )
Link Flag
Taking responsibility
Kids will learn to be able to take responsiblity when the are allowed the opportunity to do so. Otherwise, we are raising children that cannot make decisions.

Use this concern to sit down with your children and talk to them about options and how to make decisions. If the government has to keep them safe in this situation, who will keep them safe in other situations?
Pat
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://pat.powerfulintentions.com" target="_newWindow">http://pat.powerfulintentions.com</a>
Posted by patgrahamblock (6 comments )
Link Flag
people should learn to spell illegal before trying to act intelligent

. . . i wish people weren't dumb
Posted by fyre182 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Parents need to help as well
Not only do we need more laws against these predators, but many times the parents need to step in and do some parenting. It is so ridiculous to hear that Myspace is being sued becuase an underage girls gets sexually assualted. What happen to the parents in this situation? Too many parents just let the kids surf the internet with any supervision. Do these parents expect that their is some magic fairy police on the internet watching over their kids? Parents need to start parenting and watch over their kids, instead of letting the TV and computer raise your kids.
Posted by tiger1628 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Terrorism and sex with children
You know, if we videotape everyone 24/7, it would make it a lot
easier to catch those terrorists and child hunters.
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag
eww.. yeah.. and we could sell that to the cable companies easy
Some veuyerism (er.. sorry, Reality) tv channel would pick that up in a second.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
TERRORISM AND SEXUAL PREDATORS
Sometimes I wonder about our government and the people that they govern. Terrorism, due to different religious beliefs has been around for hundreds of years and they have been killing each other over their differences that lone. Doesn't look like it's ever going to change. So we hear nothing about Afghanistan, lots about Iraq, and where else do we have troops???

Sexual predators have been around just as long doing the same things, the only difference is it's easier to take a picture, it's easier to share a picture. The methods to abuse haven't changed much, now they meet them on the net instead of at the local drugstore.

Children hide things from their parents, even when they know they shouldn't, they do. I'm sure if you think about it, you did the same when you were young. I really don't think the government can fix it.

They spend billions fighting drugs, which if they legalized they could control and make money from. Seems they didn't learn anything from prohibition.

I'm amazed at their stupidity.
Posted by lefdavis (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Make enough laws
"Make enough laws everyone is guilty of something, then you can control anyone" -- Atlas Shrugged
Posted by User Information Private (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Atlas Shrugge...
Yep, maybe he got tired of supporting whining !help me...idiots' on his shoulders! Took him long enough!
Posted by Galt (12 comments )
Link Flag
the best way to hide
When you're doing something you're not supposed to be doing, the best way to hide your activities is to give people something else to look at, so you make a big deal out of something that has been around forever, sexual preditors, terrorists, global warming, etc and while everyone is talking/debating over those subjects, you quietly continue doing whatever it was that you were doing, but didn't want anyone to know you were doing it.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fighting back against Anti-Privacy Law
We live in a time in which the very notion of privacy is questioned every day. Where is the concept of freedom of speech today? During these times of confusion, we need to help try and set the record straight. Freedom of speech and basic privacy is a right that we as a people and a community and country need to help preserve, especially in social networking. There's a reason it's called "social" networking. If we don't help regulate this now, this will only get more serious in the future.
Posted by www.soulcast.com (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Fighting back against Anti-Privacy Law
I don't know, I'm all for freedom of speech, but it can get to the
point where it's extremely abusive - especially on the Internet.
Things that wouldn't be allowed in public - that would probably
land people in court - appear to be "OK" and "Acceptable" on the
Internet. Personally, I don't like that.

I'm sorry, if you're not doing anything wrong, there's no problem
with your IP address being tracked. Why should you care if
you're not doing anything wrong? I just don't get it....

The government's not out to crack down on people who are
engaging in legitimate adult to adult activities, they're out to nail
sexual predators, terrorists, etc.

I used to have the exact same attitude that many people here
have - and I'm sure I'll be attacked for thinking it's OK - but I'm
sorry, as I get older it just seems like it's not that big a deal. If
you're not doing anything wrong (i.e. - breaking the law), this
requirement simply isn't a big deal and will have no effect on
you.

Charles Whealton
Chuck Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Big Business As Usual
Looks like this would make it almost impossible for a young start up company wanting to get involved in the Social Networking business to get started. The extra costs with data retention would make it prohibitive to get involved in such an enterprise. This is counterproductive to anticompetative business practices and would assure an unlevel business playing field. It's about keeping the rich, rich and everyone else poor. The judges in America under oath to prevent this kind of un-American behavior by corrupt politicians.
Posted by MrHandle (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oops
That was supposed to say anticompetative business practice laws--lol
Posted by MrHandle (71 comments )
Link Flag
two faced government
Are these the same Congressman who got upset at Google for its China endeavor?
Posted by Paninteas (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"public forum"
Unfortunately, even if the government did not keep records, social networking websites often give out too much information anyway... comments posted back and forth is one good example. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=64" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=64</a>
Posted by ml_ess (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
another issue for the parents
This is another issue parents need to get involved in. Children need to understand that what they say online doesn't go away or get forgotton like the chat they had a week ago with friends on the school bus.

(I haven't the link but some crafty person could find it easy.) CNet published an article a while back on educating children with regard to the information they give out online.

One fellow found out he was passed over for a prestigious law firm possition because of comments he'd made years ago as a child in school.

I believe it was a student who did not get accepted to university for comments he'd made in anger over one of his highschool teachers.

Perhaps there there should be a safe harbour type "children's" internet where records are expunged at age 16 along with access rights.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Leegislative conscience-An Oxymoron?
Just when I though that my Congressional representative and Senators couldn't absorb any more stupid pills, they prove me wrong.Here we go again with legislators, woefully inept in any case, are trying to act "in loco parentis" on mine and your behalf. This is just another politically opportunistic issue, one that can generate voter goodwill for "trying to do something."
But they are wrong to try to take the place of parents. Let our children's parents do their job; instill morals, a sense of place and perspective, a value of self, and monitor their Internet access and activity.
Don't try to legislate solutions to a lack of parenting; encourage parenting. Find and proscecute lawbreakers, encourage web site designers to provide warnings and disclaimers as part of their presentation. But don't try to control one of the greatest inventions ever, the Internet, a fount of useful, and useless, information, entertainment,and communication. The Internet and all it's capability offers THE greatest opportunity to overcome ignarance, spread democracy throughout the world, and so much more.We should be encouraging more, not less, participation. Isn't it amazing that in spite of Congress' best efforts, most of the time the people get it right anyway?
Our founders rightly determined that free speech was the absolute foundatrion of our democracy, and specifically designed the Constitution to reflect this paramount building block of freedom. Well-meaning but ill-advised legislation to censor and control the Internet defeats one of our greatest opportunities to make the world a better place.
Diogenes
Posted by bdennis410 (175 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Leegislative conscience-An Oxymoron?
Just when I though that my Congressional representative and Senators couldn't absorb any more stupid pills, they prove me wrong.Here we go again with legislators, woefully inept in any case, are trying to act "in loco parentis" on mine and your behalf. This is just another politically opportunistic issue, one that can generate voter goodwill for "trying to do something."
But they are wrong to try to take the place of parents. Let our children's parents do their job; instill morals, a sense of place and perspective, a value of self, and monitor their Internet access and activity.
Don't try to legislate solutions to a lack of parenting; encourage parenting. Find and proscecute lawbreakers, encourage web site designers to provide warnings and disclaimers as part of their presentation. But don't try to control one of the greatest inventions ever, the Internet, a fount of useful, and useless, information, entertainment,and communication. The Internet and all it's capability offers THE greatest opportunity to overcome ignarance, spread democracy throughout the world, and so much more.We should be encouraging more, not less, participation. Isn't it amazing that in spite of Congress' best efforts, most of the time the people get it right anyway?
Our founders rightly determined that free speech was the absolute foundation of our democracy, and specifically designed the Constitution to reflect this paramount building block of freedom. Well-meaning but ill-advised legislation to censor and control the Internet defeats one of our greatest opportunities to make the world a better place.
Diogenes
Posted by bdennis410 (175 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Time for parents to be held responsible
It's time for parents to be held responsible for the actions of their kids.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/552/44/" target="_newWindow">http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/552/44/</a>
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
somewhat...
I agree somewhat with what you said, but ofcourse not all of it.

You can't go out there and fine a parent because their kid takes a picture of their "cleaveg" as you said.

More than 70% of H.S students have had sex before the age of 18. So under your theory looks like about 70% of parents need to be fined? Good luck on that on buddy...

I agree parents need to be better role models, but this is only a by-product of a even bigger problem. Parents aren't at the home enough because their working their ***** off and barely making it per month.

But this is about myspace and not an agenda...

I don't mind myspace keeping IP Addresses, I don't think it invades pricacy. I would mind if they kept what you said, where you said it etc... I definitely want to crack down on predators, but not hamper my free liberties at the same time. I don't want to be punished because some moron out there is sick in the head.
Posted by aSiriusTHoTH (176 comments )
Reply Link Flag
agree and disagree
I agree that keeping IP Addresses isn't a big deal, and I don't feel its an invasion to privacy.

I disagree in that I do not want to give up liberties that nearly every member in my family has fought for to keep. When you start giving up liberties, is when you start to give up your inherit freedoms.

Its like the gas analogy.

Gas here 6 years ago was about $1.90. Then it show up to $2.25.. everyone was pissed. Then it dipped down to $2.00.. everyone was happy. A few years passed and it skyrocked to $2.60.. people were pissed again. Then it dipped back down to $2.30.. people were happy.

What the normal person doesn't realize is your happy that gas really went up $.40.

Gas goes up $3.60 here and people go INSANE. Then it drops back down to $3.00.. people quite up. Eventhough in the last few years it goes from $2.30 to $3.00.

Point...? You give up one liberty get pissed, but then try to justify it. So then another liberty is taken away.. you get pissed.. but heck its to fight terriorism. Then another liberty, then another liberty.. and so on and so on and so on.

When does it stop...? Answer.. you start taking away freedoms.. it doesn't.
Posted by aSiriusTHoTH (176 comments )
Reply Link Flag
liberties.. blah
I agree that keeping IP Addresses isn't a big deal, and I don't feel its an invasion to privacy.

I disagree in that I do not want to give up liberties that nearly every member in my family has fought for to keep. When you start giving up liberties, is when you start to give up your inherit freedoms.

Its like the gas analogy.

Gas here 6 years ago was about $1.90. Then it show up to $2.25.. everyone was pissed. Then it dipped down to $2.00.. everyone was happy. A few years passed and it skyrocked to $2.60.. people were pissed again. Then it dipped back down to $2.30.. people were happy.

What the normal person doesn't realize is your happy that gas really went up $.40.

Gas goes up $3.60 here and people go INSANE. Then it drops back down to $3.00.. people quite up. Eventhough in the last few years it goes from $2.30 to $3.00.

Point...? You give up one liberty get pissed, but then try to justify it. So then another liberty is taken away.. you get pissed.. but heck its to fight terriorism. Then another liberty, then another liberty.. and so on and so on and so on.

When does it stop...? Answer.. you start taking away freedoms.. it doesn't.
Posted by aSiriusTHoTH (176 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Something Needs to be Done
It's good to know that congress is targeting SOMETHING. I was beginning to think that they had no idea what they were doing. Now we have at least a significant indication that they are performing clowns.
Posted by JJ_Wilde (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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