An article by Mark Rasch at SecurityFocus.com entitled, Retain or restrain access logs? takes a good hard look at:

A recent proposal by the U.S. Department of Justice that would mandate Internet Service Providers to retain certain records represents a dangerous trend of turning private companies into proxies for law enforcement or intelligence agencies against the interests of their clients or customers.

Mark brings up some great thoughts about this and the inherent danger of such things:

“ All of this is dangerous enough. But recent actions of the United States Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week raise an even larger threat to privacy and security. In the interests of prosecuting child abuse cases, the AG and the FBI Director have asked that the ISP’s retain all of their records just in case someday, somehow, for some reason, the government may want them in some future case. ”

The FBI and DoJ are asking ISPs to retain records of ALL Internet traffic for two years … terabytes worth of data!

Mark says that currently, “Currently, with a few basic limitations, ISPs are not required to keep any records. If they want, they can delete all their records, including subscriber records.”

All that will change big time!

Further, he says:

It has always been the case that if a record exists, it is subject to subpoena. There are several laws protecting the privacy of Internet related records. For example, the Cable TV Privacy Act 47 USC 551 provides that:

“A cable operator shall destroy personally identifiable information if the information is no longer necessary for the purpose for which it was collected and there are no pending requests or orders for access to such information under subsection (d) of this section [which allows the subscriber to have access to his or her own records] or pursuant to a court order.”

Thus, for a cable modem at least, Congress mandates that without a court order, the Cable ISP must destroy the records. The Attorney General and FBI director appear to be asking the cable ISP’s to ignore or violate that law.

And it is not at all surprising that he closes the article with the following, “Now whenever government seeks to increase the powers of law enforcement at the expense of freedom or civil liberties, it always hauls out the troika of organized crime, terrorism and the protection of children. After all, who is opposed to preventing terrorism? Who is in favor of organized crime? And who can be opposed to protecting kids, after all?”

Catch22 yet again … *sigh*

EDIT: And more great news: U.S. Supreme Court OKs no-knock searches

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