A bipartisan bill
introduced on Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives will require Internet service providers to retain subscriber information for up to 18 months to assist federal law enforcement in investigations into online child pornography and child exploitation cases.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) today introduced legislation to help investigators track down dangerous pedophiles and protect children from sexual exploitation.
The "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011" (H.R. 1981) directs Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to retain subscriber information for up to 18 months in order to assist federal law enforcement in online child pornography and child exploitation investigations. H.R. 1981 also makes it a federal crime to financially facilitate the sale, distribution and purchase of child pornography. The bill increases the maximum penalty for certain child pornography offenses.
The new bill requires ISPs to retain subscriber records, similar to records retained by telephone companies. IP addresses are the online addresses used by computers on the Internet. Consumer PCs often get a new address each time they connect to the Internet, so keeping records of which account was assigned which address can be vital in tracking down suspects.
"Investigators need the assistance of Internet Service Providers to identify users and distributers of online child pornography, said Chairman Lamar Smith. "This bill requires ISPs to retain subscriber records, similar to records retained by telephone companies, to aid law enforcement officials in their fight against child sexual exploitation"
"Too many times, law enforcement hits a dead end when tracking a child pornographer because the digital fingerprints linking them to the crime have been erased, said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "When this happens, it all too often means that a child will continue to be violated by an adult. This bill will ensure that officers of the law have the information they need to identify and apprehend those who abuse and violate children."
Many ISPs already retain these records solely for law enforcement use in these cases.