Feds: All Your Internet Activity Are Belong to Us

Posted on May 26, 2006

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller are reportedly trying to persuade the telecommunications companies to store data about their subscribers websurfing habits. This could include emails, the websites people visit, instant messages, web forum posts, etc.

CNET reports that ISPs were pressured in a private meeting. CNET say supporters say the idea will help combat child pornography, but privacy activists are very concerned about the development and worry it could be used broadly.

CNET also says it is not clear what exactly the Feds wants from ISPs: "One possibility is requiring Internet providers to record the Internet addresses their customers are temporarily assigned. A more extensive mandate would require companies to keep track of e-mail messages sent, Web pages visited and perhaps even instant-messaging correspondents."

That is a lot of data you are talking about if it is the more excessive mandate.

CNET also says the current law is a 1996 federal law called the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act. The law required ISPs to "retain any 'record' in their possession for 90 days 'upon the request of a governmental entity.'" 90 days seems a lot more reasonable than two years. In addition to the privacy concerns, requiring ISPs to store two years of all of their customers internet activity would also be a considerable burden to put on the ISPs. It would greatly expand their current storage requirements.

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