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House Judiciary Retains Data-Retention Mandate in Kid Porn Bill - Broadcasting & Cable

House Judiciary Retains Data-Retention Mandate in Kid Porn Bill

Bill would require ISPs to retain IP addresses, account info to make availble to law inforcement
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The House Judiciary Committee defeated, by a vote of 15 to 8, an amendment that would have struck the data-retention mandate in HR 1981, the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act currently being marked up in the committee.

That vote came Thursday before the committee broke for lunch and floor votes. It is planning to resume the markup in the afternoon.

The bill, co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), would require ISPs to retain IP addresses and associated account information for one year and make it available to law inforcement under administrative subpoena rather than having to seek a court order.

A number of Democrats backed the bill while others called it an overreach that gives too much power to the Justice Department and tees up a database for hacking or that could be accessed by civil or criminal litigants.

Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) pointed out that groups as disparate as the ACLU and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform opposed the mandate. She argued that a targeted approach was better than a database of "every digital act by every American."

Smith countered that it was only the IP addresses. He pointed out that for almost a century phone companies had been required to keep phone records and make them available to law enforcement and that the bill was just applying that to the online world. Lofgren said such a database could violate the privacy rights of "every individual."

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), former chair of the committee, was with Lofgren. After Lofgren repeated her charge that the bill does not help in the fight against child pornography, Smith countered that the Justice Department, among others, disagreed.

Conyers said that DOJ's support held no water with him. He pointed out that Justice had been trying to get administrative subpoena authority for years, even though it had not offered evidence that would result in any more prosecutions or arrests. "I would rather stick with Grover Norquist "any day of the week."

Other arguments by the mandate's critics included that it would put an undue compliance burden on smaller ISPs and that it was unnecessary because law enforcement was already getting 80% of the info it needed from ISPs already and most of the rest from other places.

Adopted were amendments by bill supporter Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee that would require a study of ISP compliance with the bill and its privacy standards, and would "express the sense of Congress" encouraging "electronic communication service providers to give notice to customers in the event of a breach."

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