GOP Outlines Data Retention Law for You and Us

The bills (one in the Senate, one in the House) have nice names, but they would require you and us, assuming we have routers in our houses, as well as ISPs and hotspots, to maintain records on users for two years. Yes, you read that right, you and us, as well.

The bills, Senate Bill S-436 and House Bill HR1076 are both named the "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet SAFETY Act. While purporting to be aimed at child pornography on the Internet it also, quite obviously, could be used by say, the record and movie industries to pursue those they feel are sharing files illegally.

At a press conference on Thursday, the bills were introduced by two Republicans, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Neither of the bills has co-sponsors. Cornyn said:
"While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children. Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."
The thing is, both bills contain the exact same phrase:
A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user.
Temporarily assigned network address? Translation: dynamic IP addresses, which could be assigned via an ISP, a hotspot, or even your own home router.

Yes, as written, the bill would require home users to keep logs for two years. While over-the-top, it's not just our opinion. Paul Levy, an attorney at Public Citizen who has litigated Internet anonymity cases, told C|Net: "I have a Wi-Fi network at home, and i would have no idea how to retain IP information."

And what good does any info from a hotspot do? So you know the MAC address of someone who stopped in for a cup of coffee and some free wi-fi, but how do you know who they were?

We have to wonder if this is just another example of politicians who don't understand technology writing something without really knowing what they are doing. Perhaps they wrote it the way they did not realizing they would be including home users as well. Even with that possible "excuse" for the pols, that doesn't mean we're for this bill, however.

Speaking of politicians who don't know much about technology, let's take another look at Ted Stevens' tubes, shall we?