It gets worse


Now comes word that the Justice Department has told Google, Microsoft and other major Net companies that it wants them to keep records of every Web page their users visit for two years, a polite request now, maybe a law later. Search sites, portals and ISPs are sweating, not wanting to side with the pedophiles and terrorists but not wanting to appear to bend over so readily that their customers scream. “Child pornography is disgusting and illegal,” said Steve Langdon, a spokesman for Google. But he said any proposals related to users’ data “require careful review and must balance the legitimate interests of individual users, law enforcement agencies and Internet companies.”

Current regulations require companies to preserve data that is the subject of specific criminal investigations for up to 180 days while law enforcement collects evidence that could support a warrant or subpoena. “This is a radical departure from current practices,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the Mercury News. “We’ve opposed it because we think it creates an unnecessary risk to privacy and security of Internet users.” And that risk is only one of the problems. Dave McClure, president of the U.S. Internet Industry Association, said requiring companies to keep such data could end up costing billions of dollars, raising the price of Net access. “The Department of Justice has yet to tell us what they want us to store.”‘ McClure said. “If they decide they want us to store everything, there isn’t a storage facility in the U.S. large enough to store that.”