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  • Ty Adams
    http://apnews1.iwon.com//article/20060602/D8HVUS481.html?PG=home&SEC=news Firms Wary About Holding Customer Records Jun 2, 3:50 AM (ET) WASHINGTON (AP) - The
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2006

      Firms Wary About Holding Customer Records
      Jun 2, 3:50 AM (ET)

      WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the FBI says Internet companies should
      retain customer records for two years to help the federal government
      investigate not only porn but also terrorism.

      Law enforcers and industry representatives were expected to meet
      Friday, a week after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director
      Robert Mueller first raised the issue with executives from several
      Internet service providers, including AOL, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA),
      Google Inc. (GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Verizon Communications
      Inc. (VZ)

      Top U.S. law enforcement officials have told Internet companies they
      must retain customer records longer to help in child pornography and
      terrorism investigations, and they are considering asking Congress to
      require preservation of records.

      "We are looking at whether requiring longer data retention or asking
      ISPs to do it informally is something we want to pursue," Assistant
      Attorney General Rachel Brand said Thursday.

      The subject has prompted alarm from some executives and privacy
      advocates, especially after Gonzales' Justice Department took Google to
      court earlier this year to force it to turn over information on
      customer searches. Civil liberties groups also have sued Verizon and
      other telephone companies, alleging they are working with the
      government to provide information without search warrants on subscriber
      calling records.

      Brand said some executives have raised privacy concerns. But she said
      Gonzales has not made any decisions about how to proceed and that the
      department would be mindful of privacy.

      Mueller suggested a period of two years and said terrorism
      investigations also would be helped by such a rule, several people who
      attended the earlier meeting said. Gonzales was focused on child
      pornography cases, they said.

      Any proposal would not call for the content of communications to be
      preserved, would keep the information in the companies' hands and could
      be obtained by the government through a subpoena or other lawful
      process, Brand said.

      Several companies said they work hard to protect children online and
      often cooperate with law enforcement.

      "But data retention is a complicated issue with implications not only
      for efforts to combat child pornography but also for security, privacy,
      safety, and availability of low-cost or free Internet services,"
      Microsoft said in a statement.

      In a statement, Google said, "Any proposals related to data require
      careful review and must balance the legitimate interests of individual
      users, law enforcement agencies and Internet companies."

      The meetings are an outgrowth of Gonzales' interest in beefing up child
      porn investigations, some of which he said have been hampered by
      Internet companies' failure to retain records long enough.
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