Internet providers would be forced to keep logs of their customers'
activities for one year under legislation that a U.S. House of
Representatives committee approved today.
Despite privacy concerns being voiced by both Democratic and
Republican leaders and digital rights activists, the House
Judiciary Committee voted 19 to 10 to recommend passage of H.R.
1981. That bill contains a mandatory data retention provision that
would require your Internet service providers to retain 12 months'
worth of personal information that could be used to identify what
web sites you visit and what content you post online.
A rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial
Internet providers are required to store to include customers'
names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account
numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses, some committee
The Electronic Frontier Foundation had previously joined with 29
other civil liberties and consumer privacy groups in signing a
letter to the Committee members that condemned the bill as a "direct
assault on the privacy of Internet users."
Commenting on the bill, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin
Bankstonprovided the following comment:
"The data retention mandate in this bill would treat every Internet
user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech
rights of every American, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle
have recognized. Requiring Internet companies to redesign and
reconfigure their systems to facilitate government surveillance of
Americans' expressive activities is simply un-American. Such a
scheme would be as objectionable to our Founders as the requiring of
licenses for printing presses or the banning of anonymous pamphlets.
Today's vote is therefore very disappointing, but we are especially
thankful to GOP Representatives Sensenbrenner, Issa and Chaffetz,
who chose principle over party-line in opposing this dangerous tech
mandate. We hope that bipartisan opposition will grow as the bill
makes its way to the House floor and more lawmakers are educated about this anti-privacy, anti-free speech, anti-innovation