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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 Screwballl on 2/23/2009 11:54:18 AM , Rating: 0
If these Texas Republicans were so concerned about the innocent children, they would also look into tighter gun control.

Gun control is hitting your target the first time and not needing to reload. People kill people, we do not need tighter gun control, we need less gun control so more people can legally defend themselves if attacked. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns, and those outlaws will be terrorizing the population. Do we need to lop off peoples hands to keep them from hitting other people? Do we need to require everyone to have their teeth removed to keep them from biting other people? Do we need to outlaw keyboards because they can be used to hurt people?
How far do we need to go? A communist state that protect the people from themselves with the all knowing government in full control of everything?

The way to stop the child porn is to stop it at the source, any website, newsgroup, or email shown to contain this material should have the owner/sender be subject to minimum 20 years in prison plus castration. Just the very threat of capital punishment deters more crime than taking away people's freedoms.

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).

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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