February 6, 2007 6:40 PM PST

GOP revives ISP-tracking legislation

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Because there is no limit on how broad the rules can be, Gonzales would be permitted to force Internet providers to keep logs of Web browsing, instant message exchanges, or e-mail conversations indefinitely. (The bill does not, however, explicitly cover search engines or Web hosting companies, which officials have talked about before as targets of regulation.)

That broad wording also would permit the records to be obtained by private litigants in noncriminal cases, such as divorces and employment disputes. That raises additional privacy concerns, civil libertarians say.

The American Civil Liberties Union is skeptical of data retention and Web labeling. "It's going to be very difficult for Web sites to know whether they fit into this," said ACLU legislative counsel Marv Johnson, referring to the labeling rules. "And then when you throw in the 'sexually explicit materials' definition, does that include safe-sex Web sites?"

"Preservation" vs. "Retention"
Currently, Internet service providers typically discard any log file that's no longer required for business reasons such as network monitoring, fraud prevention or billing disputes. Companies do, however, alter that general rule when contacted by police performing an investigation--a practice called data preservation.

A 1996 federal law called the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act regulates data preservation. It requires Internet providers to retain any "record" in their possession for 90 days "upon the request of a governmental entity."

Because Internet addresses remain a relatively scarce commodity, ISPs tend to allocate them to customers from a pool based on if a computer is in use at the time. (Two standard techniques used are the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet.)

In addition, Internet providers are required by another federal law to report child pornography sightings to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is in turn charged with forwarding that report to the appropriate police agency.

When adopting its data retention rules, the European Parliament approved U.K.-backed requirements saying that communications providers in its 25 member countries--several of which had enacted their own data retention laws already--must retain customer data for a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years.

The Europe-wide requirement, expected to take effect next year, applies to a wide variety of "traffic" and "location" data, including the identities of the customers' correspondents; the date, time, and duration of phone calls, voice over Internet Protocol calls, or e-mail messages; and the location of the device used for the communications. But the "content" of the communications is not supposed to be retained.

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19 comments

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It may be difficult to get this through
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas will have to find a fair number of Democrats to cosponsor this bill with him. Now that he is no longer the chairman of the committee, he will find it more difficult to push he favorite legislation through.

There are more pressing problems for the Congress to focus on these days.
Posted by Arbalest05 (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
At least GOP is out of power
At least the GOP is out of power. But I somehow don't think the Democrats would stray away from something like this either.
Posted by airwalkery2k (117 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Freedom of Speech is Important component of Democracy
We at NetAlter feel that Internet should not be restricted for end users and people should have the right for free expression in this online medium and also protection for their privacy. At the same time we feel the Internet should not become a tool for unlawful activities.

However, the present trend is that governments are trying to regulate the net by bullying major ISPs in storing user information and usage patterns.

The NetAlter system addresses the problem of unlawful usage of internet in a novel way. It uses IPv6 to uniquely identify a user and assign a unique ID but does not store personal information or content of the user on its servers.

Users can publish information only within their own private networks. That is users of NetAlter can create their own personal network by inviting people they know.

For example activist of Tibet want to create their own personal network, they can do so and publish what they want within their network.

To publish outside their personal network, which is on the Public Network, the users will require revealing their identity and providing verifiable information.

What this means that the activists of Tibet will require identifying themselves if they wish to publish information in the entire NetAlter network.

And what is publicly published on the NetAlter network can be regulated either by government regulatory bodies or other responsible organizations depending on country to country.

In case a private network is engaged in serious unlawful activities and this is brought to the notice of NetAlter by members of the network, action can be taken to suspend the network.

Thus NetAlter offers privacy and freedom of speech at the private network level and offers regulation at the public network level.

NetAlter is under development and is supposed to offer an alternative network to internet users.
Posted by guyfrom2006 (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It'll pass in some form.
Hopefully the AG's power to expand the required retention beyond the fields specified can be stripped.
Posted by ben masel (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Law and Confusion
The political party that enabled a known terrorist to get into the parliment in Iraq is not moving on a "law and order" theme? Gimme' a break: crime plummeted under Clinton, went back up under Bush (kinda' like the national debt). Suppose they have to do something to pass the time.
Posted by michaelo1966 (159 comments )
Reply Link Flag
its the new deal economy or the war economy
look who argues for weapons funding and civilian chaos control (ie: big bro)... each two party is a leg of the "necessary evil" govt.... both parties should look to their american revolutionary roots... union values... and the rest of history... to make sense of all the misinformation spewed about by those in control and those who follow
Posted by wone123 (32 comments )
Link Flag
ISP Tracking
With regards to the 'WARNING LABEL'. The requirement should be that the warning label not only exist on the page, not as an image but imbedded words, but also in the meta-data about the page to allow parents to block access by keywords. There should also be a new internet address domain of .vgc (very graphic content) that must be used by all sites carrying content of a sexual or violent nature.

This may sound like Gestapo tactics, violations of free speach, and censorship but it is not. Those people who are mature enough and want access to the material will still have access to it. With each and every "RIGHT" there comes responsibility. The responsibility in this case is the responsibility to protect the innocent (children and other minors). My child does not need to view material of the sort that is on these web pages (either by accident or purpose), nor does he need to be innundated by emails of a sexually explicit or violent nature. So we do need laws of this sort, not to violate the rights of adults, but to protect the rights, minds, and bodies of our children.
Posted by rshelton3000 (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ISP Tracking doesn't go not far enough
With regards to the 'WARNING LABEL'. The requirement should be that the warning label not only exist on the page, not as an image but imbedded words, but also in the meta-data about the page to allow parents to block access by keywords. There should also be a new internet address domain of .vgc (very graphic content) that must be used by all sites carrying content of a sexual or violent nature.

This may sound like Gestapo tactics, violations of free speach, and censorship but it is not. Those people who are mature enough and want access to the material will still have access to it. With each and every "RIGHT" there comes responsibility. The responsibility in this case is the responsibility to protect the innocent (children and other minors). My child does not need to view material of the sort that is on these web pages (either by accident or purpose), nor does he need to be innundated by emails of a sexually explicit or violent nature. So we do need laws of this sort, not to violate the rights of adults, but to protect the rights, minds, and bodies of our children.

R.S.
Posted by rshelton3000 (26 comments )
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What is your responsibility as a parent?
If you do not wish your child to be subjected to "offensive" emails and websites, then move the computer from your child's bedroom to the room where yours is located and monitor his or her activities on the Net.

Blocking sites may be well and good, but nothing works better to protect innocent children than parental oversight and involvement. I don't want any more laws--period. I am not about to allow the government to oversee the raising of my child any more than it already does. I take my responsiblity as a parent seriously, serious enough to park my child's computer next to my own so that I can see for myself what she is doing. I don't need the government restricting everyone's rights to freedom because a few misguided souls out there think personal responsibility equals government intervention and control in and of every facet of our lives. Take responsibility for yourself and your family. Otherwise, it won't be long before it's 1984 and George Orwell's vision of a totalitarian society.
Posted by novelator (34 comments )
Link Flag
What are you talking about
You have a kid who has access to a computer good, that means you have access to the same computer. Buy some software that filters what the kid can see, put blocks on their e-mail that stops the spam (although the software will stop them from accessing it anyways). I'm sick and tird of this attitude that it's no longer the parents job to take care of their kid, um it's your kid, it's your responsibility to monitor what they watch. The more you give away the more the government will take, and the more future generations will expect to be told what to do by somebody else. Soon all our decisions will be made by somebody else.
Posted by snowman74 (10 comments )
Link Flag
yet another reason to vote...
...for ANYONE but a republican!

Please help vote ALL these morons out of office before they finish destroying our country. As for the idiots that actually think this kind of tripe is a good thing, you need to be voted off the island too. If you want to live like that then go to a muslim run country, they appreciate controlling every aspect of YOUR life. Free thought will be met with censorship and spying. Destruction of anything that shines a light on their so called "values" is a must (something they have in common with the cult of christianity). Remember that evil can't bear to be seen in the light of day (or reason).

...and don't forget to show you papers to the nice man with the gun before you sign on. If you don't have the correct documentation showing you are a proper, morally right citizen, you will be detained and questioned... or maybe just disappear from your home in the middle of the night.

That's what these guys are working toward... vote 'em out!
Posted by smlinde (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
voting Republican?
I applaud your political enthusiasm. Though I suspect you didn't actually read my article, which said how this is shaping up to be a bipartisan protect-the-children effort:

Even though both requirements are central to a Republican-led effort, neither data retention nor Web labeling are that partisan. A Senate committee approved a telecommunications bill that included Web labeling by a 15-7 vote in June. And Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, has been the most vocal proponent of data retention in the entire Congress.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Misguided
Your rant is hilarious in that it is so misguided. Christian does NOT = Republican. In fact, a true Christian has no party affiliation, if they DID it would be the Constitutional party not the scum we have in Congress now.

You obviously hate Christians and are a hypocrite. You bash cristians by taking a Christain analogy (Light shining in darkness) and attempting to group everyone you don't like (Republicans & Christians) together. This is called the Straw Man fallacy. Basically, your argument is a non-argument, it is not valid. You have difficulty forming cohesive arguments so, like the darkness you like to harp on about, you are embodying the same as that which you profess to hate so much. People who don't like the light to shine on them because, like cockroaches, it reveals their true self.

None of us are perfect, but try removing that "Log" from your eye BEFORE you go pointing out the Splinter in another's.
Posted by enscorp (49 comments )
Link Flag
Unintended Consequences...
Has anyone in Wasington ever given ay thought
to how much these requirements are going
to cost? Trillions, probably, to implement
everything they might want, and they won't pay
for it, leaving that stinking pile to
bankrupt the private sector. There goes
most companies, most jobs, and, probably
the 'Net itself. Thanks, D.C.
Posted by wmorrison8 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
reversal of all legal precedent
They want ISPs to track their customers activities. This is a complete reversal of legal precedence. If you make ISPs do law enforcements job, can we cut the law enforcement budget to zilch?

Are alcohol manufacturers required to track their customers use of their products?

Are auto manufacturers required to track where every customer drives?

Are television manufacturers required to track what you watch on TV?

Why should ISPs tracking their customers be any different than any of these other industries tracking their customers?
Posted by qmuser (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ISP data retention bill opens door to Identity Theft Armageddon
We do need to help give law enforcement the tools they need to
fight phishers, crimeware authors, and those involved in child
pornography and other abuses. However, can you image the
privacy and identity theft disaster that would ensue if thousands
of ISPS, big and small, had to start tracking and storing all this
information?

First, most of the thousands of small ISPs in this country would
probably go bankrupt.

Second, you've just created a fertile ground for ID thieves to
steal thousand of databases with your personal information,
email address and web surfing habits. There is no way that all
of these databases will remain secure.

Imagine what a criminal could do with this information....

I know your name.
I know your IP address.
I know which banking and brokerage sites you visit, therefore I
know where you have accounts.
I probably know where you work if you login to a VPN or access
corporate email from an ISP.
I know which hotels you stay in.
I know which auction sites and ecommerce sites you visit or have
accounts at.

Basically, spear-phishing would go through the roof. It would
be impossible to discern real emails from fake ones.

Let's get realistic here, lawmakers. If some of the world's largest
government agencies and ecommerce sites can't keep customer
databases secure, how are thousands of ISPs supposed to do
it???? This idea, while well-intentioned, is a disaster waiting to
happen.

(PS. buy stock in data storage companies).
Posted by Dave_IronKey (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Voip Records and cell phone messaging....
This would also mean that all conversations over voip would be retained and all cell phone text messaging and pda data would be retained also. Great job Big Brother Please put all non-governmental people in jail and set up the concentration camps. And when we are born we need to be Tagged and licensed like dogs and cats with microchips that record our every move and conversation etc, so we can be protected from ourselves.
Posted by ira_davis (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would like to say,If the government was talking about monitoring phone calls willy nilly everyone in this country would be up in arms but talking about tracking someones web surfing habits somehow does not arouse suspicion about big brother and his habit of taking away every little freedom under the guise of better crime prevention.This is bull plain and simple.If I break the law and get caught fine but to equate monitoring the net with crime prevention and safety is the total abandonment of human rights.The constitution in the fourth amendment guarantees our privacy though it is not "interpreted" in this way.The framers thought different and because your typical American redneck isnt smart enough to figure out their government is not out to protect the people but only to protect themselves.So they accept this ridiculous notion of no actual right to privacy even though it was the intent of the framers in the protection of a person and their papers.better luck in the new third riech.
Posted by kjhalverson (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is a darn shame that George Bush and his cronies are such paranoid schizophrenics. They are the destroyers of a nice country, USA.
Seems the USA is over for the decent citizens of America and America has gone to the Bush's "good people F America", the halucinating far right wing paranoids.
They're probably still looking for the WMD in Iraq. They'd find the WMD if they'd examine the brains of George Bush and his cronies.
Posted by BBDougher (1 comment )
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