Tuesday, a hearing at the US House of Representatives concerning data retention by ISPs (which would likely include retention of customers’ Internet Protocol addresses) was scheduled. CNet has coverage of the hearing:
Members of Congress chided the U.S. Department of Justice today for suggesting a new law requiring Internet companies to keep records of user activity, but not disclosing details on how it should be crafted to aid criminal investigations. At a House of Representatives hearing, as CNET was the first to report, the Justice Department endorsed the concept of forcing Internet companies to collect and store data about their customers that they would not normally retain. This echoes the Bush administration’s position under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
But Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division, irked the committee members by saying “the government doesn’t have a specific proposal” at this time. […]
Weinstein did say that the Justice Department was not interested in forcing companies to retain “content information” such as the text of e-mail, text, or SMS messages. He added, in response to questions, that up to two years of data retention “would be a useful starting point,” which echoes what FBI director Robert Mueller told Congress in 2008. (Ideally, to help law enforcement the most, “I’d think the statute of limitations would be the place to start the discussion” in terms of retention periods, he said.)
But he did not address the scope of the law, including whether social network sites and image-uploading sites would be required to record user activities–a proposal that surfaced inside the department four years ago. […]
Perhaps the most telling comments, though, came from the new chairman of the House Judiciary committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). He introduced a data retention bill in an earlier session of Congress and is now in a position to push any legislation through the chamber this year.
Smith said that the Internet has become a “virtual playground for sex predators and pedophiles,” and “more robust data retention will certainly assist law enforcement” in tracking down criminals.
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary crime subcommittee, told Kate Dean, executive director of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association, that the industry must develop voluntary standards or risk being thwapped with the “stick” of federal legislation. “If you aren’t a good rabbit and don’t start eating the carrot, I’m afraid we’re all going to be throwing the stick at you,” he said.