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U.S. Attorney General pushes for new ISP laws
Published: 2006-09-20

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pushing for new laws requiring ISPs to retain access logs for longer periods, claiming the need to fight child pornography.

Gonzales had admitted, while testifying in front of a U.S. Senate panel, that new legislation might be intrusive and could have significant privacy implications for U.S. Internet users - but he believes this is dwarfed by the need to fight child porn. A recent report by AP quotes Gonzales as saying, "[w]e have to find a way for Internet service providers to retain information for a period of time so we can go back with a legal process to get them." He was further quoted as saying, "[w]e respect civil liberties but we have to harmonize this so we can get more information."

The U.S. Justice Department made a similar appeal in April 2006, before the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

However, it has been shown time and again that forcing organizations to retain access logs can result in major abuses of privacy. The information is available by subpoena for many purposes beyond what the government's legislation originally intended. In June 2006, renowned legal expert Mark Rasch analyzed the proposal and suggested that it represents a dangerous trend of turning private companies into proxies for law enforcement or intelligence agencies against the interests of their clients or customers.

Child pornography is a real threat on the Internet that jeopardizes the safety of helpless children. But privacy concerns about the U.S. government and law enforement watching innocent Americans, along with an erosion of civil liberties since September 11, 2001, continues to be a major issue in the United States.

Posted by: Kelly Martin
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