FBI seeks law forcing ISPs to retain data

FBI seeks law forcing ISPs to retain data

Published: 2008-04-25


(Security Focus) – The United States’ top cop told a Congressional committee this week that law enforcement would benefit from a law forcing Internet service providers to hold onto customer data longer.

In comments before the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III told members that Internet service providers (ISPs) should be required to retain the records of what customers did online for longer periods of time. He suggested that records be kept for a minimum of two years, according to a CNET News.com report.

"From the perspective of an investigator, having that backlog of records would be tremendously important if someone comes up on your screen now," Mueller said, according to News.com. "If those records are only kept 15 days or 30 days, you may lose the information you may need to bring that person to justice."

The U.S. and European Union government have both pursued longer retention periods to give law-enforcement agents the ability to virtually go back in time and use past actions to build cases against suspected criminals. A year ago, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill with the stated purpose of combatting child pornography, but which would have required that Internet service providers monitor their users. Earlier this month, participants of the Council of Europe’s Octopus 2008 Conference on Cybercrime were asked to adopt a set of guidelines to speed response to cyberattacks and share more information, especially between Internet service providers and government agencies.

The FBI currently rates the policing of the Internet as their third most important priority, following counterterrorism and counterintelligence, according to Mueller’s statement. The FBI is a key agency in the Bush Administration’s Cyber Security Initiative announced earlier this year.

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