TAG | data retention
Declan McCullagh of CNET is reporting on a bill to require ISPs to maintain massive records on their users. According to the article this bill requires commercial Internet providers to retain “customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses”.
They are calling it the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011″ in a flagrent attempt to make it politically difficult to vote against it even though the bill has noting directly to do with Internet pornography or protecting children.
Were this bill to become law, it might cause real problems for the growth of public Wi-Fi where there is no user authentication. That would be a huge leap backwards for a very possitive trend of late.
Of course, criminals will continue to be trivially able to circumvent such tracking efforts making this primarily a mechanism for gathering information on innocent persons without any hint of suspicion or probably cause.
It is absolutely un-American to require every citizen to submit to continuous tracking and monitoring on the possibility that some tiny fraction of us will commit a crime. Law enforcement always lobbies hard for such provisions. Make sure your voice is heard that you value your privacy and your rights.
In this CNET article by Declan McCulagh, he reports that the DoJ is planning to request mandatory data retention by Internet providers. Their argument is that the lack of data retention is interfering with law enforcement’s ability to investigate cases. This implies some kind of shift in the balance of privacy vs. access. No such shift has taken place.
I think that they are more frustrated by the fact that a huge potential gold mine of information is out there to which they don’t have access. Prior to the various modern technological revolutions people used pay phones, sent letters, and paid cash for toll roads.
Now they use Twitter, SMS, Facebook, Email, cell phones, electronic toll payment etc. There is way more information available to law enforcement now than before. The fact that this data retention is only on the Internet may make people feel better, but one would certainly learn more about me from my Internet activities than from following me around physically.
Lets look at what is being asked for with a real world analogy. This is like saying that the US Postal Service should photograph and database the address, and return address, on every letter which goes through the system. Physically is it like saying the cell phone company should record and retain my GPS location at all times. Either of those would actually be much less intrusive than monitoring how I use the Internet at all times.
Lets not get in to the cost of maintaining these records or the issues with leaks or hackers. Consider the Chinese attacks on dissident Google accounts. This plan would ensure that such information was much more widely maintained.
At this point it appears to be a only a request. I am curious to see how this evolves over the congressional term.