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<nettime> Justice Department Wants Internet Companies to Save Personal W
lsi on Sat, 3 Jun 2006 13:11:19 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Justice Department Wants Internet Companies to Save Personal Web Surfing Data

[Outrageous, not least because a criminal with half a clue will
launder his traffic using any one of several techniques, including
SSH, proxies, impersonation, cybercafes, using a public or insecure
wifi connection and/or a stolen laptop. When privacy is outlawed, only
outlaws will have privacy. - Stu]


Justice Department Wants Internet Companies to Save Personal Web
Surfing Data by Elise Ackerman

The U.S. Department of Justice has told Google, Microsoft and other
major Internet companies that it wants them to keep detailed records
of where people go while surfing the Web for up to two years.

The proposal, which would require Congressional approval, could
dramatically change how companies cooperate with law enforcement
agencies investigating everything from terrorist networks to child
pornography. Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and
Comcast, could also be forced to comply.

Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, said the government
wants companies to keep data related to Web searches and e-mail
exchanges -- but not actual content, such as e-mail messages or

The companies say they want to help law enforcement, but they are also
concerned about providing secure Internet services and protecting the
privacy of their users.

``Child pornography is disgusting and illegal,'' said Steve Langdon, a
spokesman for Google. But he said any proposals related to users' data
``require careful review and must balance the legitimate interests of
individual users, law enforcement agencies and Internet companies.''

Internet companies have a mixed record in protecting the personal
information of their users.

Earlier this year, Google fought a Justice Department demand for data
relating to Web searches. A federal judge ordered Google to hand over
part of what the government originally requested, but not information
about individual searches. Microsoft said it also resisted a similar
demand and likewise won concessions from the Justice Department. But
AOL and Yahoo reportedly complied with the government's request.

Eric Rabe, a spokesman for Verizon, said the telecom giant has a
history of ``tenaciously guarding'' its users data, including fighting
a battle with the music industry all the way to the Supreme Court over
the identity of people who shared music online.

Current regulations require companies to preserve data that is the
subject of specific criminal investigations for up to 180 days while
law enforcement collects evidence that could support a warrant or

``This is a radical departure from current practices,'' said Marc
Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information
Center, who meet with justice department officials Thursday. ``We've
opposed it because we think it creates an unnecessary risk to privacy
and security of Internet users.''

Roehrkasse, the Justice Department spokesman, said the purpose of
the meetings with the Internet companies and others is ``to solicit
their input and seek their assistance in formulating proposals and
recommendations on the issue of data retention.''

Roehrkasse said Gonzales had made clear that government employees
would only have access to the information through ``appropriate
legal processes,'' such as a subpoena. Investigators at the justice
department in Washington or at any of the country's 94 U.S. attorney's
offices would also be able to retrieve the stored information.

Behind the proposal is Gonzales's concern that the Internet is
encouraging the sexual exploitation of children and that the failure
of some Internet providers to save records may have hampered some

``Before the Internet, these pedophiles were isolated -- unwelcome
even in most adult bookstores,'' Gonzales said during an April 20
speech before the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
``Through the Internet, they have found a community. Offenders can
bond with each other, and the Internet acts as a tool for legitimizing
and validating their behavior in their minds.''

Under the Patriot Act, which was extended in March over the objections
of civil libertarians and privacy advocates, Internet services
providers, or ISPs, have voluntarily helped the FBI track and arrest
terrorists and criminals in the United States and abroad.

In one case, the FBI arrested an El Paso man who sent an e-mail
threatening to destroy an El Paso mosque. In another, agents
identified a 36-year-old Kansas woman who later confessed to
murdering a 23-year-old Missouri woman and cutting out her unborn
eight-month-old fetus.

``We are trying to understand what's not working,'' said Mark
Uncapher, senior vice president of the Information Technology
Association of America, whose members include AT&T, Verizon, AOL,
Yahoo and Microsoft.

ISPs do not typically keep detailed records of each individual
subscriber's online wanderings. Dave McClure, president of the US
Internet Industry Association, said requiring companies to keep such
data could end up costing billions of dollars.

McClure said the cost would likely be passed on to consumers, who
would also face a greater risk of identity theft because more
information that's not available now would be stored. In addition, the
stored data would be a tempting target for people suing each other
over civil matters, he said.

``The Department of Justice has yet to tell us what they want us
to store,'' McClure said. ``If they decide they want us to store
everything, there isn't a storage facility in the U.S. large enough to
store that.''

Copyright =A9 2006 Knight Ridder

Stuart Udall
stuart at {AT} cyberdelix.dot net - http://www.cyberdelix.net/

 * Origin: lsi: revolution through evolution (191:168/0.2)

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