CNet reports that some Congressional Republicans are pushing for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to retain more customer data (such as IP addresses) for longer. AnÂ Internet Protocol address is a unique 32-bit numeric address that can identify a specific computer on a network. IP addresses, generally assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP), can be temporary (called dynamic IP addresses) or permanent (called static IP addresses). IP addresses can be used to link a specific computer to an individual (or group of individuals sharing the specific computer). CNet reports:
The House Republicans’ first major technology initiative is about to be unveiled: a push to force Internet companies to keep track of what their users are doing.
A House panel chaired by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow morning to discuss forcing Internet providers, and perhaps Web companies as well, to store records of their users’ activities for later review by police.
One focus will be on reviving a dormant proposal for data retention that would require companies to store Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for two years, CNET has learned.Â Tomorrow’s data retention hearing is juxtaposed against the recent trend to protect Internet users’ privacy by storing less data. […]
For now, the scope of any mandatory data retention law remains hazy. It could mean forcing companies to store data for two years about what Internet addresses are assigned to which customers (Comcast said in 2006 that it would be retaining those records for six months).
Or it could be more intrusive, sweeping in online service providers, and involve keeping track of e-mail and instant-messaging correspondence and what Web pages users visit. Some Democratic politicians have previously called for data retention laws to extend to domain name registries and Web hosting companies and even social-networking sites. The police chiefs’ proposal talks about storing information about “destinations” that Internet users visit.