August 22, 2006 11:52 AM PDT

Qwest calls for mandatory data retention laws

ASPEN, Colo.--Broadband company Qwest Communications International on Tuesday strongly endorsed federal legislation requiring Internet providers to keep records of their customers' behavior, a move that could accelerate efforts in Congress to enact new laws.

Jennifer Mardosz, Qwest's corporate counsel and chief privacy officer, applauded efforts by politicians to force broadband providers to engage in so-called "data retention," which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said will aid in investigations into terrorism and child exploitation. This appears to be the first time a broadband provider has called for data retention laws.

"We support legislation related to data retention," Mardosz said at the Progress and Freedom Foundation's annual summit here. Mardosz said Qwest "absolutely" endorses a measure (click for PDF) proposed in April by Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat.

In a public flip-flop, the Bush administration now is lobbying for data retention laws, even though it previously expressed "serious reservations about broad mandatory data retention regimes." Rep. Joe Barton, the influential chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has endorsed data retention and is expected to introduce a bill after the panel completes a series of hearings on child exploitation.

"We support legislation," Mardosz said Tuesday. "We want to be at the table. We want to have these discussions. The main thing is what's reasonable and balancing the interests of privacy and law enforcement." Qwest already keeps logs for more than 99 percent of its services for one year, she said.

This is an unusual stand for Qwest, which defended its customers' privacy rights when requiring the National Security Agency to obtain a court order to conduct electronic surveillance, according to a USA Today article in May. The Denver-based company has a market capitalization of $16.5 billion and says it has 784,000 wireless customers and 1.7 million DSL (digital subscriber line) customers.

Privacy groups have strongly opposed mandatory data retention, and many Internet providers have been skeptical of new laws. The U.S. Internet Industry Association has said current proposals aren't "going about this the right way," and the Information Technology Association of America has raised "real reservations" about legislation.

ISP snooping timeline

In events that were first reported by CNET News.com, Bush administration officials have said Internet providers must keep track of what Americans are doing online. Here's the timeline:

June 2005: Justice Department officials quietly propose data retention rules.

December 2005: European Parliament votes for data retention of up to two years.

April 14, 2006: Data retention proposals surface in Colorado and the U.S. Congress.

April 20, 2006: Attorney General Gonzales says data retention "must be addressed."

April 28, 2006: Rep. DeGette proposes data retention amendment.

May 16, 2006: Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner drafts data retention legislation--but backs away from it two days later.

May 26, 2006: Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller meet with Internet and telecommunications companies.

June 27, 2006: Rep. Joe Barton, chair of a House committee, calls new child protection legislation a "highest priority."

"Imposing broad data retention would be a significant change to U.S. law, especially when it has not been shown that a narrower data preservation approach will not work just as well," said Kate Dean, director of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association. "The proposal to store enormous amounts of data on subscribers and keep it live for a lengthy period of time raises serious technical, legal and security concerns." (The association's members include AOL, AT&T, BellSouth, EarthLink and Verizon Communications.)

Qwest's enthusiastic endorsement of mandatory data retention could make it politically easier for members of Congress to enact new laws even if other companies remain staunchly opposed.

Details about the Bush administration's call for data retention remain ambiguous. At the very least, administration officials want to compel Internet providers to keep records of which Internet Protocol address a customer is assigned.

But during private meetings with industry officials, FBI and Justice Department officials have cited the desirability of also forcing search engines to keep logs--a proposal that could gain additional law enforcement support after AOL showed how useful such records could be in investigations.

Mardosz said that keeping records of what Web pages are visited (another possible option) would go too far. "If you get along the lines of content, there's going to be a lot pushback (and privacy concerns)," she said. "We don't want to go there."

DeGette's proposed legislation says any Internet service that "enables users to access content" must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could only be discarded at least one year after the user's account was closed.

Critics of DeGette's proposal have said that while the justification for Internet surveillance might be protecting children, the data would be accessible to any local or state law enforcement official investigating anything from drug possession to tax evasion. In addition, the one-year retention is a minimum; the Federal Communications Commission would receive the authority to require Internet companies to keep records "for not less than one year after a subscriber ceases to subscribe to such services."

CONTINUED: "Preservation" vs. "Retention"…
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22 comments

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Mandatory Voice Data Retention Also Needed
I applaud Qwest for embracing the US government's request and helping the US win the war on terror.

Now the US government needs to also push for mandatory voice data retention to further ensure our safety.

With companies like Qwest willing to work with the US government, the safety of the US will increase by leaps and bounds.
Posted by bobfuller30004 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you for real?
This has zip to do with the war on terror. How naive and simple of you to be taken in by the current administration.They have repeatedly shown a complete disregard for citizen's constitutionally guaranteed rights and with this kind of thinking they will continue to do so.
Posted by mikele1 (14 comments )
Link Flag
Are you High??
That is the dumbest thing I've heard Since we elected Bush.(and then of course he crowned him self king) If you want a government that monitors you and be your daddy move to russia or some place the care not about basic rights.If you beleave all of this fear mongering that our curent administration is spreading and useing to break law after law, and to enact laws that give them more power to micro manage american life, again move to russia we dont need you here.

Government needs less power not more, so I ask again are you high?

regards,

FookBush
Posted by FooKBush (24 comments )
Link Flag
IP addresses
"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.)"

Haha, I know how true this is. I've setup a program to hold a connection 24-7, and for the last 5 months my ISP hasn't changed my IP address because of it. It's a great thing to remember in case you want to run a web server from your home computer.
Posted by Amazingant (146 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There is no excuse!
There is no excuse to violate my privacy or anyone else's and her lame rationale is exactly that-LAME.
Posted by mikele1 (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: There is no excuse!
What are you so worried about?

Why do people sit there and kick and stomp and say "don't invade my privacy" when most of them aren't even doing anything wrong to begin with?

What is the big deal?

Is your privacy worth more than children being taken advantage of? More so than people's lives ending because of terrorist activity?

Certainly, the chances are you're not doing anything illegal...

So what is the problem? Why is it so horrible to retain records in case they're needed? What's the big deal? Chances are, it won't even affect you.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Qwest supports self-preserving barriers to entry
That's all this is. Here's how our society now works. The politicians scare the pants off of the people to justify their own existence and generate support for new laws. The government then giddily hints that compliance with these as yet unwritten laws will fall most heavily on those enetities with the most money, i.e. corporate america. Those corporate entities then pump money into both sides of the government duopoly (republicrats and democans) to make sure "their opinions get heard." Then corporations (under the auspices of the government) create a giant hairball of purposely vague laws. Bush rubberstamps all laws; he hasn't vetoed any of them as yet. These rules then get implemented at great cost so that new competitors are effectively prevented from entering markets thereby screwing consumers and regular folks everywhere. Welcome to the USA now pretend like you like it or we'll ship you to Gitmo.
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pretty bleak
lol--pretty much.
"The politicians scare the pants off of the people to justify their own existence and generate support for new laws" Isn't that a form of terrorism? lol
Yeah, of course deep pocket Quest wants this. Then, it's prohibitively expensive to break into the business. What a way to eliminate potential competition.

While we're at it, lets put these restrictions on any search companies, so another startup like Google was a short while ago can't afford to get into the business. OMG, someone might type in something strange into a search engine--we'll have to keep track of that; it could cause the downfall of our society lol. The human race has been around for 1,000's of years. We're not going to spontaneously explode if we don't keep track of everything that everyone does.
Posted by MrHandle (71 comments )
Link Flag
All of the Breaking of the constitutional laws
is not going to change a thing. Just like when they tried to stop drinking the bootlegger just when a way of doing things.
All it is hurting is the America.

How can we go to another contry (fight their wars) & teach Democracy & Freedom when we are destroying owr own as fast as it can be done?

Terror is something we have alway fought agaist. It may have not in the same form as today, but we once fought Britin,France,Hitler,Russia,& Japan because of terror another would rule,& we would lose owr rights. Now it is being taken away.

I would like to know which birdbrain is going to know what I mean when I am talking to someone else. Are we now going to rewrite the Dictionary so some words can not be spoken?
Posted by Earl (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All of the Breaking of the constitutional laws
is not going to change a thing. Just like when they tried to stop drinking the bootlegger just went another way of doing things.
All it is hurting is the American People.

How can we go to another contry (fight their wars) & teach Democracy & Freedom when we are destroying owr own as fast as it can be done?

Terror is something we have alway fought agaist. It may have not in the same form as today, but we once fought Britin,France,Hitler,Russia,& Japan because of terror another would rule,& we would lose owr rights. Now it is being taken away.

I would like to know which birdbrain is going to know what I mean when I am talking to someone else. Are we now going to rewrite the Dictionary so some words can not be spoken?
Posted by Earl (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ha Ha!
As Nelson would say, Ha Ha!

It is so easy to defeat, it becomes a pointless waste of data space!

Oh well, all those Firefox and greasemonkey script kiddy users, will be laughing their heads off by now!

Let all the fools and idiots have an absolute belief in their own silly propaganda!

The 'Peter Principle' rocks on!!!!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wonderful
So Qwest is assuming that all their broadband customers are potential paedophiles.

I got another idea, why not have video cameras inside everyone's home - just in case they do something illegal.

Maybe we should have all phone calls recorded - just in case everyone in the US is a terrorist.

Perhaps all mail should be opened and read by the Dept. Homeland Security - just in case someone has something to hide.

Or should all men be forced to give up their DNA to a national database - just in case they turn out to be rapists.

Perhaps all your banking information should be handed over to the government - just in case you use your bank to launder drug money.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Qwest just wants to cash in
Qwest doesn't do anything purely for the sake of the country.
When they say "we want to be at the table" they mean they want
to lobby Congress to include a provision allowing them to pass
along the cost (and then some) to their customers. So along with
"federal access charge", "universal service charge" and all the
various other extras you'll soon see a "data retention fee" added
to your bill.
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So ISPs don't save logs on what web pages....
you visit? What exactly do ISPs then keep logs of for cable modem
subscribers?

l
Posted by lenn5 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE: So ISPs don't save logs on what web pages
Actually, I personally work for a Cable ISP, we keep only MAC address info, and IP addresses that you lease from us, other than that, we dont even have access to your password, all we can do is change the thing. Most ISPs really do NOT want to track their customers, if they were required to, then every illegal file that they download would be the responsibility of the ISP, and the ISP does not wish to assume any extra financial liability than that they already incur.
Posted by onedeej (3 comments )
Link Flag
RE: So ISPs don't save logs on what web pages
Actually, I personally work for a Cable ISP, we keep only MAC address info, and IP addresses that you lease from us, other than that, we dont even have access to your password, all we can do is change the thing. Most ISPs really do NOT want to track their customers, if they were required to, then every illegal file that they download would be the responsibility of the ISP, and the ISP does not wish to assume any extra financial liability than that they already incur.
Posted by onedeej (3 comments )
Link Flag
RE:So ISPs don't save logs on what web pages
Actually, I personally work for a Cable ISP, we keep only MAC address info, and IP addresses that you lease from us, other than that, we dont even have access to your password, all we can do is change the thing. Most ISPs really do NOT want to track their customers, if they were required to, then every illegal file that they download would be the responsibility of the ISP, and the ISP does not wish to assume any extra financial liability than that they already incur.
Posted by onedeej (3 comments )
Link Flag
Bye Bye Qwest
I think I'll switch to a company that values privacy.
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quest needs to read what happened at AOL
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/2100-1030-6107830.html?tag=tb" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/2100-1030-6107830.html?tag=tb</a>
The same thing can happen to the fascist idiots at Quest, who decided we don't have a right to privacy.
If enough people contact Quest, and threaten to leave, they will listen.
Posted by gestry (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Question:
What good is the retention of data for 6mo.,a year,or what ever, going to help what is happening now?
Posted by Earl (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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