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New bills seek to end internet anonymity

The topic of ISP data retention came up once again in the halls of Congress. A new bill, known as the “Internet SAFETY Act,” seeks to compel ISPs and anyone who hosts a Wi-Fi access point to log all information that could identify users, in order to assist police investigating child pornography.

Known formally under the full title “Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act,” the Internet SAFETY Act is actually two companion pieces of legislation – one working its way through the Senate as S.436, and the other through the House as H.R.1076. Their sponsors are Senator John Cornyn and Representative Lamar Smith, and both are republicans hailing from Texas.

“While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children,” said Cornyn in a Thursday press conference. “Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level.”

Both bills are virtually identical, and contain the same language. “[Providers] of an electronic communication service or remote computing service” will be required to retain “all records … pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address” for two years.

Observers interpret the law to mean anyone who runs a network that assigns users a temporary IP address, internal or external – which would cast ISPs like AT&T in the same lot as coffee shops and corporate networks using DHCP.

CNET notes that both the U.S. Department of Justice’s position and legal definition of “electronic communication services” line up with this interpretation.

“Law enforcement officials had a chokehold on child pornography before the Internet exploded,” reads a Dallas Morning News editorial penned by Rep. Smith. “Perpetrators relied on the postal service to traffic their trade, and, by the end of the 1980s, postal investigators were winning the battle.”

“But the Internet changed everything. Now criminals can view pictures, download videos and watch the live molestation of a child. Pedophiles have, in effect, found a safe haven online.”

Citing the imagery of a TV crime drama, Rep. Smith wonders: “How many times have we seen TV detectives seek call logs of a suspect in order to determine who he has been talking to? What if the telephone companies simply said to the detectives, ‘Sorry, we get rid of that information after 24 hours’?”

 Increased data retention favors a completely different set of suitors as well, says Electronic Privacy Information Center director Marc Rotenberg: the music and movie industry. Such a bill would “create new risk” for web surfers and peer-to-peer users, spawning legal fishing expeditions and lawsuits.

“It's a terrible idea,” said Rotenberg.

Perhaps spurned on by privacy advocates’ calls for service providers to have a shorter memory – a call that many have listened to – or the death of COPA, it appears the Internet SAFETY Act is the latest in a series of anti-child-pornography initiatives seeking to lift the veil on internet anonymity.

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By Denithor on 2/23/2009 9:09:54 AM , Rating: 5
Don't get me wrong, I'm no pedophile & certainly would like to stop this horrific practice.

But taking away our privacy is not the right way to do it.

By HostileEffect on 2/23/2009 9:28:14 AM , Rating: 5
I'm also getting very tired of the government sticking its ugly nose where it doesn't belong. Whats that smell...

By Dreifort on 2/23/2009 10:10:27 AM , Rating: 1
You mean the same government that is forcing individual states to give up some of their legislative power in-turn to accept stimulus money?

Smells of corruption. Federal government gains part of state's governing power...for money.

Every state is required to expand their unemployment funding, permanently. Even though majority of states can barely meet their curr funding - the fed gov't wants you to triple or even quadruple your unemployment funding...or you won't be allowed to receive stimulus money.

While temporarily, some of this money will help sustain unemployment funding. When stimulus money dries up, states will still be forced/required to keep their unemployment benefit funding sky high.

This stimulus bill keeps getting worse. And it does seem like it was written by a bunch of apes (congress, NOT obama.). This bill is taking state power and transferring it to federal control....and bringing back our welfare system to an even higher level than it was when a democrat ended it. step at a time. *sigh*

By Spivonious on 2/23/2009 10:56:12 AM , Rating: 2
I heard on the radio that South Carolina isn't going to accept the stimulus money. Does anyone have any details on that?

By delFur on 2/23/2009 12:32:29 PM , Rating: 3
Neither is Louisiana. I haven't heard about South Carolina before just now... makes me wonder how many states aren't going to take money.

By Dreifort on 2/23/2009 1:08:35 PM , Rating: 3
SC is one of 4 or 5 states that is refusing the money. However, California and Michigan are already asking for the money these states are refusing.

By theArchMichael on 2/23/2009 10:11:54 AM , Rating: 2
If you're not for this bill your probably a pedophile.</sarcasm>

I doesn't surprise that an issue like preventing child pornography is attached to a bill restricting the citizens' right to privacy. The bill writers and lobbying groups behind are goading our representatives into voting for it or having it become political fodder for the next election cycle. 'Rep. SoandSo voted to support child pornography!', yech, election year is the devolution of our society.

However, I think this would be a reasonable measure if only there were a provision that evidence and investigation could only gathered on child pornography cases carried out by the govenment itself, and not by agents on its behalf.
That would rule out use or necessity of these logs in civil cases and criminal cases not pertaining too child pornography.
Well I guess the logs would still be there... for example if they were stored on a mainframe or in the router or switches memory stack or something. BUT if those logs were encrypted with a salt/password, wouldn't one have to subpoena access to those logs via a person giving up their password? If it wasn't a child pornography case you wouldn't be compelled to bow to those demands.

By BladeVenom on 2/23/2009 11:42:30 AM , Rating: 5
Politicians are just exploiting children to do the bidding of the RIAA/MPAA. This bill is what the media mafiaa wants so they can spy on everyone, and track down filesharers.

By stilltrying on 2/23/2009 4:46:51 PM , Rating: 1
This has nothing to do with lobbyists/RIAA/MPAA. This is The New World Order right in your face, designed to make all of us slaves with no freedoms whatsoever. One freedom at a time the slow gradual turn to one world socialism/government, it is coming I will promise you this. The global economic meltdown and these bills designed to take away your freedom were designed well in advance and all is going as planned to think otherwise is naive.

By darklight0tr on 2/23/2009 2:07:07 PM , Rating: 5
Well get used to it. At least for another 4 years. We have a President who not only has the audacity to tell businesses how much their CEO's should make, but will end up federalizing a huge portion of our economy. You think he's going think twice about slapping massive restrictions and controls on the Internet ? To Obama and the Democrats, there is NO PLACE they don't think they belong.

Their sponsors are Senator John Cornyn and Representative Lamar Smith, and both are republicans hailing from Texas.

Before trotting out the usual Democrat bashing, you should reread the article. The sponsors of this bill are both Texas Republicans. So much for your claim that the grass is greener on the other side.

By mars777 on 2/23/2009 7:38:40 PM , Rating: 4
You sound like a republican...

Bla bla bla and after a while all the rubbish comes out...

By threepac3 on 2/23/2009 5:14:24 PM , Rating: 2
How soon they forget the last 8 years...

By Reclaimer77 on 2/23/2009 5:27:29 PM , Rating: 3
How soon they forget the last 8 years...

The last 8 years of what ?

Bush drastically increased the size of the federal government, yes. There is no denying that. But at least it was to defend us and get us out of the Cold War footing and into the age of modern state funded terrorism. Not to mention fund the war, no matter what your thoughts on it.

However when it is all said and done, what Obama will do can't even be comparable. He will eclipse Bush's total 8 years of spending in just TWO at this rate, if that. And the long term impact is going to be FAR greater because Obama is putting the money into more and new government SPENDING PROGRAMS. That's what liberal entitlement plans do, spend tax dollars and increase their budgets year after year. It really doesn't take an Economist to see the drastic difference between the two presidents imprint on the economy.

Bush isn't president anymore, and soon Obama and the Democrats will no longer be able to point to him and dig up the same sorry excuse that they "inherited" what Bush did. And I suggest you get off that as well.

You act as if I and other conservatives somehow support Bush increasing the size of the federal government by 35%. No, we don't. But you are a complete idiot if you think that even pales in comparison to what just 4 years of Obama will bring us. Hello !?? 1+ TRILLION dollars of new spending in his first MONTH of office ?

I thought I was going to wreck my car today when I heard Obama's newest promise on the radio today. He's somehow going to magically cut the federal deficit in HALF in two years, while ALSO ushering in unprecidented tax and spend trillion dollar pork barrel packages AND federalized Universal Health Care.

I guess he really IS the second coming. Because there is NO WAY on this earth to do those two things at the same time.

By boing on 2/24/2009 6:25:23 AM , Rating: 2
to DEFEND you? DEFEND !!! is that what you call invading a country that offered no threat to rape it of it's natural resources in a war with zero international support?

the guy launched an unnecessary, illegal, abusive war which has devastated your economy, destroyed your image internationally, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people, militised a whole generation of muslims and pissed all over the geneva convention and basic human rights.

he has also dangerously eroded the fundamental liberty of the american people and pushed the country to the brink of a poice state.

That's before we get to the fact that it was Bushes era of deregulated greed that allowed the banks to push the economy over the edged of a cliff.

Obama has inherited a disaster movie of a presidency, one largely made by Bush, if he didn't pour money into the economy you wouldn't have a pot to piss in right now.

By Reclaimer77 on 2/24/2009 4:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
Wow.. it's like your a walking talking Liberal Talking Point machine. I would love to take you apart word for word, but it's way too easy.

I will partake on a few big ones though.

to rape it of it's natural resources in a war with zero international support?

Two huge lies in one sentence. You have a gift. We HAD international support, we didn't have UN support. England, Australia, Canada, and a host of other countries participated in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is that not support ?

Secondly, we have not taken a SINGLE drop of oil from Iraq. That's a fact bud.

the guy launched an unnecessary, illegal,

CONGRESS launched a legal war. Not George Bush.

if he didn't pour money into the economy you wouldn't have a pot to piss in right now.

WOW... just.. wow.

You realize taking money OUT of the economy or using the treasury to cause inflation, and dumping it into government programs, is NOT "pouring money" into the economy right ? No.. you don't.

Every dollar the government spends is a dollar that's NOT in the hands of the taxpayers. Every dollar the government borrows is a dollar that's NOT being lent to the private sector where it can be put to better use by GROWING the economy.

By croc on 2/23/2009 4:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm... Thes bills were put forth by Republicans - from Texas. You know, the state that Dubbya came from, the President that stuck his nose (illegally, BTW) into more US lives as well as other nations' citizens lives than any other US Pres. in history? The one that used unofficial comms for official business? The Pres. that lost how many emails?

By Kougar on 2/23/2009 9:42:46 AM , Rating: 5
Ars Technica already had a good write up on this... basically it comes down to what the definition of a "electronic service provider" is. As DT hints, hosting a WiFi access point could qualify under the legislation.

If I wasn't annoyed at my own Congressmen for pushing this, I'd simply find this bill amusing. Most non-technically inclined folk still can't even secure their wireless networks, yet people in Congress want them to maintain detailed access logs?

By Bateluer on 2/23/2009 11:31:37 AM , Rating: 2
You live in one of the districts that these legislators represent? Have you written then to let them know where their constituents stand?

By Bender 123 on 2/23/2009 11:51:50 AM , Rating: 5
Better not send it via Email...Knowing how tech savvy our govt is, it might get stuck in their interwebs tubes...cause emails dont travel in dump trucks.

By Bender 123 on 2/23/2009 9:43:33 AM , Rating: 2
And the sickos that do this are often found at Starbucks watching kiddie porn...This along with the thought of tax by the mile driving, using GPS tracking of our cars, for some reason, make me want to go outside for my 15 minutes hate. BTW...who are we at war with again? I missed the update yesterday while talking with some Prols at the Ministry of Peace

By Steve1981 on 2/23/2009 9:44:29 AM , Rating: 2
The potential for abuse is obvious, although I generally assume I'm not anonymous on the net in any event. I'm curious what kind of oversight is built into the bill though.

By AntiM on 2/23/2009 10:13:33 AM , Rating: 5
Yes, it's mostly a guise for undermining our privacy.

Gun violence accounts for over 3,000 deaths and over 15,000 injuries each year among children and adolescents.

If these Texas Republicans were so concerned about the innocent children, they would also look into tighter gun control. However, while they are quick to undermine our constitutional right to privacy, I doubt any Texas politician is going to touch gun control.
(not that I'm for gun control either, it's just an example). It's possible to justify just about anything in order to protect the innocent children.

“How many times have we seen TV detectives seek call logs of a suspect in order to determine who he has been talking to? ......

Did Rep. Smith really say that? Does he think we're all that stupid?
How many times have we seen corrupt politicians on TV and the news? Maybe we should record all phone calls, all emails, financial records, and all conversations of politicians. Then make them public so we can be assured that they're not being corrupt. I have no dout that would benefit the innocent children more than any data retention laws.

By tastyratz on 2/23/2009 2:00:16 PM , Rating: 2
well that depends,
You are talking about a mental disorder - not a preference. People don't like children like someone might prefer a blonde any more than many homosexual's choose to be gay. The threat of capital punishment wont be a deterrent... but the real problem is the source. Chasing child porn across the internet will be a battle they will spend countless dollars on and never win for people who are not the actual abusers... But redirecting funds to areas that concentrate on abuse victims and child molestation cases would be far more effective.

Spend less time infringing on everyone's rights chasing the people watching the movies, and more time on the people making them!

By mindless1 on 2/23/2009 6:00:16 PM , Rating: 2
So all we'd have to do to have someone put away and castrated is hack their 'site and upload some pics? It seems a bit overly simplified, this idea you had.

The "source" of child porn is not a website, newgroup, etc. It's the sicko who takes the child and produces it. I'd much rather we dealt-down sentences of those who only look at pictures, in exchange for them giving up the next higher up in the distribution and production.

Remember who the victim is, if we are hard-nosed about punishing perverted old men who look at pictures it doesn't give them incentive to finger their source, doesn't do anything to reduce the abuse to the victims, the children.

That has to be first priority (though I do not support the idea of every John Doe who owns a wifi router having to keep logs, if it were even possible which it is not on most consumer equipment).

By Reclaimer77 on 2/23/2009 1:51:05 PM , Rating: 1
If these Texas Republicans were so concerned about the innocent children, they would also look into tighter gun control.

You realize that gun violence only increases with gun control laws right ?

Can you please explain to me why the cities where it's almost impossible for an honest citizen to own a gun, have out of control shooting deaths ?

By celticbrewer on 2/23/2009 3:40:53 PM , Rating: 3
Sure, maybe you only have "a mere tens of shootings deaths a year", but every week there's knife killings and violence. I rather walk through New York City than London at night.

By clovell on 2/23/2009 3:47:04 PM , Rating: 3
Certainly - it's called Washington, D.C.

For more information, see Switzerland.


By Reclaimer77 on 2/23/2009 4:23:28 PM , Rating: 3
Who's talking about Canada ?

From what I have seen of Canada, my answer would have to be everyone walking around in public smoking pot is why you don't have gun violence problems.

But seriously, this isn't Canada. My statement wasn't about Canadians. And the topic at hand has nothing to do with Canada.

You Canadians are so proud to throw up gun violence statistics in our faces, but ignore the fact that your violent crime rate is on par with America. In the end, what is the difference between getting shot or stabbed to death ? Or getting run over by a Moose by a drunken hockey player.. or whatever passes for violence in your country.

But I know HERE, In AMERICA, gun control does NOT equal lower gun violence.

By General Disturbance on 2/23/2009 5:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm talking about Canada so that hopefully you realize there is another larger world out there, where we don't all want to be the hero who shoots the perp.
Quit trying to convince yourself that violent crime is normal. We DON'T have a violent crime problem here. It exists, of course, but it generally doesn't bother those who don't ask for it.
And we certainly would NEVER think the solution is to let everyone have guns!! That's quite a comical concept to the rest of the world!

By Reclaimer77 on 2/23/2009 5:52:25 PM , Rating: 1
I find your generalizations about my country offensive.

Now please do me a favor and go back to drinking your high octane beer and beating your wife.

And we certainly would NEVER think the solution is to let everyone have guns!! That's quite a comical concept to the rest of the world!

No doubt everyone in Switzerland is laughing too ! Oh, wait...

By General Disturbance on 2/23/2009 6:34:45 PM , Rating: 2
In Swissland they have guns because that is how their military works...they don't all own guns to stop eachother from shooting's a big difference in ideology! And, compared to the US, they have relatively NO gun crime.

So it isn't guns, it's people. But if the people can't rationally own guns, then take the guns away.

I'll go back to my hot Canadian gf now, make her dinner, and then make out...I'm the one who gets the beating...

By boing on 2/24/2009 8:25:42 AM , Rating: 2

But the price of eternal vigilance is frequent funerals: in 2005, 48 people were murdered by gunfire in Switzerland - about the same number as in England and Wales, which have a population seven times as large. According to the International Action Network on Small Arms, an anti-gun organisation based in the UK, 6.2 people died of bullet wounds in Switzerland in 2005 per 100,000 of population, second only to the US figure of 9.42, and more than double the rate of Germany and Italy.

By Reclaimer77 on 2/23/2009 5:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
We DON'T have a violent crime problem here. It exists, of course, but it generally doesn't bother those who don't ask for it.

And WE DON'T have a gun violence problem here. It exists, of course, but it generally doesn't bother those who don't ask to be SHOT.

Now honestly, if I seriously used that as an argument I would be torn apart. But you are seriously claiming that only people who ASK for violence in Canada are victims of it ?

Sounds like your socialist government is hard at work spinning things in a more favorable light..

By General Disturbance on 2/23/2009 6:13:29 PM , Rating: 2
Don't be offended dude.
But generally, yes, it is extremly rare for an innocent bystander to be affected by violent crime. It happens infrequently, yes, but none of us would ever think we should carry a gun because the problem is so bad we must always be armed and in a state of alertness.

"Sounds like your socialist government is hard at work spinning things in a more favorable light.."

Well all see what we hear in the news I guess...

By mindless1 on 2/23/2009 6:33:15 PM , Rating: 2
Quite overgeneralized, the perceived threat has quite a lot to do with where one lives and what other choices or situations they're in. Suppose you are green, you walk to work and live in a major metropolitan area at night. Are you sane if you assume to be safe, given people are victims a certain % of the time and given # of times you are exposed to an environment? It only takes once to change a life, or end one.

Some people have more risk than others and can do little about it, any choice they make could just shift the risk to someone else.

It is not rare for an innocent bystander to be effected, unless you only mean a bystander as a 3rd party to a crime already being committed. Instead let's look at innocent victims of crime in general, since by definition a "victim" does tend to be innocent at least of that particular crime.

For example if I call someone a sh!thead, and get shot, I am innocent of provoking a murder even if not innocent in some altruistic concept. Society cannot tolerate killing because of a verbal blurt, nor most other scenarios except to save a life. Most violent crime IS against someone who is innocent enough, when you consider few if anyone is really an angel.

By Steve1981 on 2/24/2009 9:17:05 AM , Rating: 2
It happens infrequently, yes, but none of us would ever think we should carry a gun because the problem is so bad we must always be armed and in a state of alertness.

To quote the Nuge...

To my mind it is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime, and death. How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic.

It might be an "American" way of thinking, but I'll take it over the alternative.

By mindless1 on 2/23/2009 6:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
You think you "know" that, but there are far too many variables to know it with any reasonable degree of certainty.

In America we have an alarming prison population per capita, and yet still so much violence. In most countries if they were so quick to lock people away for a long time the crime rate would be even lower, though I'm excluding countries where you might just have your hand lopped off or be executed instead of imprisoned.

By mindless1 on 2/23/2009 6:11:02 PM , Rating: 1
It's not about gun control laws. Larger cities have high population density, getting people closer together causes more conflicts and supports larger infrastructures of organized crime, gangs, drugs, and other illegal enterprises.

Even the typical, hypothetical "honest citizen" can be pushed to rage, and may be a few times in their lifetime. Limiting the weapons are general population carries around in times of (National) peace seems like a good idea to reduce crime. Suppose an armed robber thinks someone has a gun, but wants to rob them. What will happen? The robber simply draws first and shoots if the victim attempts to put out their gun.

Maybe victim shoots back, maybe victim just gets shot so they have no chance to pull out a gun when they wouldn't have been shot otherwise because they posed minimal threat to a robber with a gun when they had none.

Now let's move beyond the hypothetical honest citizen who is sane, and consider the 10% of the population who are mentally ill, considering many are not diagnosed as such that it would prevent them from legally owning a gun if mental illness was part of the screening process for a gun license.

Now let's consider that this 10% figure might be WAY too low, plenty of questionable people seem pretty normal on the surface thanks to their ability to mimic those around them and on TV, but obviously some people make better choices in life than others.

By celticbrewer on 2/23/2009 3:33:20 PM , Rating: 2
I don't mind the intent, OR EVEN giving up the privacy. It's the fact that it won't work and I could be liable for someone else's actions. Spoofing an IP is easier than identity theft or anything like that.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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