FBI Wants ISPs to Log, Maintain URL Information

Lora Bentley

The NSA is not the only government agency interested in what's happening on U.S. networks. CNET News reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking Internet service providers to log the sites their customers visit and then hang onto those records for at least two years. Access to users' "origin and destination information" could aid the government's efforts to find and stop purveyors of child pornography, for instance.


The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, as well as investigatory agencies in several states, agree that such data retention requirements would prove valuable, the story says. But like the retention of user data by search engines and the reported partnership between Google and the NSA, the request will undoubtedly bring privacy advocates to the forefront again.


Of more concern to the ISPs, however, are the practical problems such a requirement would present. Verizon VP and associate general counsel for law enforcement compliance, Drew Arena, told Computerworld, "We're not set up to keep URL information anywhere in the network." And John Seiver, a Davis Wright Tremaine attorney whose cable company client law enforcement once asked to keep track of visits from its network to two URLs said, "Eighteen million hits an hour would have to have been logged."


It's unclear at this point how much, if any, of the FBI's requirement would require deep packet inspection. If it were to be required, however, writer Declan McCullough notes Congress would certainly not be happy.

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