The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would require Internet service providers (ISPs) to collect and retain records about Internet users’ activity.
CNET reported the bill would require ISPs to retain customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses for 12 months.
The bill passed by a vote of 19 to 10, and is aimed at helping law enforcement track down pedophiles.
“The bill is mislabeled,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a senior member of the panel told CNET. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”
The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (H.R. 1981) was sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
“When investigators develop leads that might result in saving a child or apprehending a pedophile, their efforts should not be frustrated because vital records were destroyed simply because there was no requirement to retain them,” Smith said Thursday.
“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.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and 29 other organizations sent a letter (PDF) to Rep. Smith on July 27, claiming that “any data retention mandate is a direct assault on bedrock privacy principles.”
“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,” Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said.
“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.”
The bill is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Sheriff’s Association, the Major County Sheriff’s Association, the International Union of Police Associations and the Fraternal Order of Police.