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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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RE: Parents' responsibility
By Suntan on 2/23/2009 9:45:33 AM , Rating: -1
So if a child gets abducted at school and sodomized, it’s the parent’s fault?

Keeping pedophiles from destroying children’s’ lives is everybody’s job. It’s not the same as letting kids eat potato chips and watch TV all day long.

I suppose you get irate when you see an Amber Alert that takes precedence on the traffic information screens during your commute. “Too bad that kid didn’t have better parents I want to know how long this traffic will take to get to the junction of I35 and I494!”


RE: Parents' responsibility
By tastyratz on 2/23/2009 10:08:38 AM , Rating: 5

This is not to keep your kids from visiting sites they shouldn't, or keep them from getting abducted. Don't be so arrogant as to believe this cynical ruse. This is Orwellian, this is 1984... This is the government wanting records of everywhere you have been and everything you have done online for years at someone else's expense while hiding under the words "child porn". This is not about child porn. Child porn abuse (while statistically greater than it has been in the past) is a minority among internet criminal activity. Something tells me that this is more likely the result of lobbying from the RIAA.

RE: Parents' responsibility
By Pandamonium on 2/23/2009 10:22:50 AM , Rating: 3
If I raise my kid to trust strangers and run away/hide from their teachers at school, then yes, it's my fault.

I doubt that pedophiles kidnap the same way organized crime does. If pedophiles drove around wearing masks in black vans and snatched unsuspecting children off sidewalks, I'd be for state involvement. (or at least, making policemen protect & serve rather than issue parking/speeding tickets)

RE: Parents' responsibility
By Suntan on 2/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Parents' responsibility
By Old Man Dotes on 2/23/2009 12:00:08 PM , Rating: 3
Suntan, you are apparently deliberately twisting the other posters' intent.

The obvious intent is that "the government should not impose an unreasonable burden on citizens for the *stated* purpose of making it possible to track child molesters, because we informed citizens know that (1) the logs will not be especially useful in such investigations, and (2) the logs will be used for other purposes instead, to protect the monopoly power of certain copyright-controlling syndicates."

This is a bad law in so many ways that there simply isn't time to detail them all.

And for those who think "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide," let's not forget Joe McCarthy. It isn't necessary to do something illegal for a politician to twist "evidence" to make it *appear* that you've broken the law; all he cares about is more power, more headlines, and getting re-elected by the sheep.

RE: Parents' responsibility
By Suntan on 2/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Parents' responsibility
By mindless1 on 2/23/2009 6:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
... except a teacher might be a pedo, or a bus driver, or anyone else. Parents do not have 24/7 monitoring AND control over what someone else does. They can attempt to do something AFTER they find out, but not so much prevent an event of abuse.

Pedos do sometimes drive around in vans and snatch up kids, or in shopping malls, sidewalks near schools, anywhere there might be children. There has to be governmental involvement to some degree for law enforcement, but at the same time that should not impose on individual citizens to monitor everyone around them including not logging all data transmissions until there is a reason to suspect illegal activity is actually being transmitted at a specific place, time, etc.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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