August 23, 2006 4:18 PM PDT

Qwest on data retention laws: Oops

Broadband provider Qwest Communications International said Wednesday that it made a mistake when one of its lawyers endorsed federal legislation requiring Internet providers to keep records of customers' behavior.

Jennifer Mardosz, Qwest's corporate counsel and chief privacy officer, said in an interview with CNET News.com that she misspoke during a panel discussion organized by the Progress and Freedom Foundation in Aspen, Colo., the day before.

"I just completely misspoke there," Mardosz said. During the panel discussion, she said Qwest "absolutely" supports House of Representatives legislation sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette mandating data retention--a requirement that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said will aid in terrorism and child exploitation investigations.

"I associated (DeGette's) name with the female Colorado legislator that introduced the state legislation," Mardosz said. "That was just a pure and honest mistake that I made."

Mardosz said that instead of embracing data retention legislation, Qwest was skeptical of mandates from Congress. "There is no need for it, because companies are already doing the right thing," she said.

On Tuesday she said during the panel discussion: "We support legislation related to data retention." One industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said Qwest had backed the Colorado legislation earlier this year.

The original version of the Colorado bill (click for PDF) required Internet providers to "maintain, for at least 180 days after assignment, a record of the Internet Protocol address" assigned to each customer. Violations could be punished by fines of up to $10,000 per incident. The language was subsequently changed.

Qwest's revised position brings it in line with other telecommunications companies, which say they are already required by law to cooperate with criminal investigations and have been generally skeptical of broad, new mandates. 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.

DeGette's proposed legislation (click for PDF) 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 not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed.

Rep. Joe Barton, the influential Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has endorsed the concept of data retention and is expected to introduce a bill after the panel completes a series of hearings on child exploitation.

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Qwest Communications Inc., legislation, panel discussion, chief privacy officer, Colorado

11 comments

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Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
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Yikes!
DeGette's proposal shows that, like many legislators, she just doesn't get it:

"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 not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed."

I run my own web and mail servers. Therefore, I am, in a sense, running an "Internet service". I am not an ISP, however, which is what I *suspect* she really means (but with the law, wording--not intent--is what really matters). Were this proposal to pass, would I therefore be required to retain all logs of who accessed my web and mail servers until "one year after the [user's] accounts expired?" Unfortunately, most people accessing my web server *don't have accounts* on my server. When can I purge these logs, then? Would I be required to maintain log files indefinitely? Keep in mind, I'm just a geek running a server for the fun of it. I can't afford to keep upgrading hard drives just so I can keep log files forever... :(

Most ISPs (and I've worked for two) keep log files for a reasonable period of time--a month, a year maybe for some logs--and then rotate them. This allows a reasonable time for law enforecement agencies to submit a request for subscriber information without something as onerous as what Ms. DeGette proposes.
Posted by T38 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not sure how long ...
.. the web server I'm playing with keeps logs.

Must see if I can write a script to delete them in 30 seconds.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Link Flag
Ooops?
ummm.. yea .. its probably oops when Qwest recieves a flood of emails from subscribers threatening to discontinue service.
Posted by BeamerMT (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Qwest sorry their desire for anti-consumer regulation made public
Qwest is very sorry that their desire for anti-consumer, anti-competitive regulation was made public. They're even more sorry that it received a negative reaction. Now that they've compelled this woman to recant her story. In 24 hours she completely reversed her opinions, yeah right. Now Qwest can do what they really wanted to do in the first place: deal $$$'s with the government in secret. Dealing with the government in secret should work better for Qwest. This way no nasty PR and no angry customers. Yet they'll still get the onerus laws they want. The policians will be happier and richer as well. Everyone wins but the common man.
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
POTS architecture.... evil eye....
grouwing up as a teenager... I hung out with enough phreaks on att conf calls to know how corporate america is run.. and quite frankly, most people cant handle the truth...

we dont need an architecture designed to exploit...

child porn and such.. well thats propaganda used to excite one another and keep this sh- going on..

I never hear about the post office opening peoples letters looking for child porn.. .

but dont listen to me.. I am half retarded... cant hold on to job for more than 6months.. and refuse the woman placed in my world by my controllers..

oh yah.. since I have no friends.. (I wonder why) I guess that makes my a threat..
Posted by freq (121 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Doing The Right Thing? NOT!!
Qwest claims it is doing the right thing by turning over their customer personal information. I think not. Acts like this just add to the police state that this nation is becoming. There are other ways to fight terrorism with out becoming a police state. If we do become a police state the terrorist win. Our right to privacy must be protect at all cost. When I first started using the Internet i had AOL. They had a habbit of blocking sites. Once I realized this I dropped them like a hot potatoe. Because this meant that they were monitoring aon what I viewed. I enjoy my privacy and do whatever it takes to protect it. In regards to our privacy who are the ones to really be afraid of? The terrorist or our government?
Posted by system001 (45 comments )
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Oops: Cancelled My Account
Ha ha! I cancelled my Qwest account shortly after the data retention story broke. Any others? Poor Qwest.
Posted by bobfuller30004 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Corporate Idiocy
How can this person have the audacity to say this was just an "honest mistake". Something so profound as this had to have been oked by the very top management before the statement ever could be made. So much for corporate stupidity and cover up.
Posted by Lyricraider (11 comments )
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We're sorry, the employee you're trying to reach has been disconnected...
Just another typical day at Qwest. As a former employee who ran for the door because of and just before the merger between the then US West and Qwest, I have a decade of experience with how they operate. It's not that this type of thing doesn't happen hourly by management in one of their offices... this is just one of the few times it's become so public.

Management at Qwest comes in two flavors:

1) Suck-ups, with noses as brown as potting soil and that don't have the sense god gave a lemon, who got to where they are by making sure they had at least 4 inches of penetration up someone's backside.

2) Then there are the true masters of the 4-inch... the power hungry elitists who got to where they are by bypassing the brown-nosers like the steel ball in a pinball machine and taking advantage of the corporate culture of submission by crushing the hourly employees in yet another sad attempt to compensate for their other shortcomings.

Given these two management types, I would bet my money that manager-type #1 approved the original release and manager-type #2 forced the damage control while making darn sure the counsil that made the 'boo-boo' was sent home crying.

Now remember, "that's the spirit of service.'
Posted by AgentSTS (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Some things never change...
As an even more recent former employee of Qwest (or Q-worst if you prefer) I can tell you that your description is just as accurate now as it was pre-merger. I too ran, quickly, to the first available job offer somewhere else.
Posted by j9starr (3 comments )
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