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Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.
"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," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level." ...
That sweeps in not just public Wi-Fi access points, but password-protected ones too, and applies to individuals, small businesses, large corporations, libraries, schools, universities, and even government agencies. Voice over IP services may be covered too.
The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates. ...
In the Bush administration, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had called for a very similar proposal, saying that subscriber information and network data should be logged for two years. ...
This tends to be a bipartisan sentiment: Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, said in 1999 that "certain data must be retained by ISPs for reasonable periods of time so that it can be accessible to law enforcement." Rep. John Conyers, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that FBI proposals for data retention legislation "would be most welcome."