ISP Data-Retention Bill Decried by Privacy Groups

Monday Feb 23rd 2009 by Kenneth Corbin
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Privacy advocates claim that Internet SAFETY Act would create digital surveillance state through impractical data-retention requirements.

Privacy advocates are lashing out at a renewed effort by lawmakers to impose requirements on ISPs and wireless network operators to keep records about the identities of Internet users. The new bills are an effort to combat child pornography and other types of exploitation.

Under the law, network operators would have to retain the network addresses assigned to users for a minimum of two years, information which law enforcement could use to track down predators.

But the broad language of the bill, which would apply to any "provider of an electronic communication service," could mean that coffee shops, airport lounges and individual households would be required to keep detailed records.

For Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, that's a self-defeating proposition.

"The proposal is both terrible and impractical," Rotenberg told InternetNews.com. "It exposes Internet users to unnecessary risks, including identity theft, fraud and civil liability, and it creates record-keeping requirements that could never be enforced."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group that, among other battles, has been waging a legal fight against the government to halt its domestic surveillance program, leveled a similar criticism.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com.

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