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Bill would require ISPs to track users
Published: 2007-02-19

A Republican congressman has introduced legislation that would require Internet service providers (ISPs) to keep information about their users' identities and, possibly, their actions online.

Earlier this month, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill (H.R. 837) with a stated purpose of combating child pornography but the legislation also includes a measure that would force ISPs to monitor their users, an item that has long been on law enforcement's wish list. The bill mandates that the U.S. Attorney General determine the exact regulations, but the rules should "at a minimum, require retention of records, such as the name and address of the subscriber or registered user to whom an Internet Protocol address, user identification or telephone number was assigned, in order to permit compliance with court orders."

Needless to say, privacy advocates and Internet industry groups are not pleased.

"The Smith proposal would give the attorney general carte blanche to require service providers to keep all information imaginable on every one of their users," Kate Dean, executive director of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association, told the Washington Post last week.

Other proposed legislation would require that registered sexual offenders give up their online e-mail and Web-site addresses, as they currently must do with their physical addresses. Personal privacy has taken center stage in 2007, following numerous data breaches, worries about government surveillance and the monitoring of employees by corporations.

The bill, H.R. 837, is known as the Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth (SAFETY) Act of 2007.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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