Head over to CNews and read this scary article?part=rss&tag=6066608&subj=news. Basically, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (Colorado, 1st District), wants to require “providers of Internet access services” to “retain records to permit the identification of subscribers to such services for law enforcement purposes” up to one year after the subscriber closes the account. According to the Congresswoman, there was a case where a child abuser supposedly could have been found if the ISP had retained logs showing users and IP addresses.
Now, the exploitation of children is a terrible thing, and law enforcement should pursue these cases vigorously. I also think that it isn’t unreasonable to ask ISPs to retain logs showing users and their assigned IP addresses, assuming that they only need to be kept for a limited amount of time, no more than a year, and that law enforcement would have to demonstrate why they need the information to get a warrant.
The problem is, the amendment, as it is written, doesn’t limit itself to ISPs and IP addresses. It says that anyone who provides a service on the Internet has to provide a way to identify subscribers to that service. And it is incredibly vague as to what exactly has to be retained. At the school where I work, would we have to keep records of all of our staff, faculty, and students? Do we have to just list IP addresses? Do we have to keep web logs? Do we have to keep copies of all of their email? What makes this scary is just how vague the amendment is as written. Is this blog a service? Are people who read the site subscribers? Do i have to track that you read this post?
I expect this kind of thing from some Republicans, using 9/11 and their “global war on terrorism” to justify all sorts of burdensome and intrusive regulations. But to have this come from a Democrat is especially disappointing.