US approves ISP data retention bill


US approves ISP data retention bill

Warwick Ashford

The US House of Representatives has approved a new piece of legislation that will force internet service providers (ISPs) to save logs of all their customers' activities for 12 months.

The House Judiciary Committee says the data could help future police investigations concerning child pornography, according to US reports.

Supporters of the bill say the legislation will help lift law enforcement out of the "dark ages" by enabling agents to subpoena IP information instead of needing a court-ordered warrant.

Investigators will also have a further advantage when identifying child porn distributors and users as the bill ensures that the digital footprints of offenders will not be erased.

But opponents of the bill say it will create a database of every US internet user that could be used for purposes other than protecting children from pornographers.

In its current form, the bill requires ISPs to store customers' names, bank account numbers, IP addresses, credit card numbers and home addresses.

The role of ISPs in clamping down down on criminals is increasing. Australia is pushing for similar ISP control and in a landmark ruling in the UK, an ISP has been ordered to block a specific website as part of government efforts to crack down on piracy.

The High Court ordered BT, as one of the UK's most prominent ISPs, to block access to the Newzbin2 site that acts as an aggregator of pirated media content.

Ahead of the ruling, one of the site's administrators, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the BBC that the site would attempt to "ensure continuity of service to our UK users".

He warned that keeping the site up may involve breaking BT's Cleanfeed filter, which the ISP uses to block access to sites featuring child pornography.

BT has responded to the threat by saying the company "would be appalled" if any group were to try to sabotage this technology as it helps to protect the innocent from highly offensive and illegal content.

The suit against Newzbin2 was brought by the Motion Picture Association, which accused the members-only site of giving access to pirated copies of films.

The High Court ruling, widely regarded as a victory for Hollywood, sets a precedent that will open the way for further lawsuits to be brought against sites suspected of illegal file sharing activity.

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