Law enforcement supports new U.S. data retention bill

A new proposal for a U.S. federal law that would compel ISPs to retain logs regarding their customers for 18 months is currently being discussed in the House of Representatives.

Named “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011”, the legislation is sponsored by Representatives Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and would require ISPs to “”retain for a period of at least 18 months the temporarily assigned network addresses the service assigns to each account, unless that address is transmitted by radio communication.”

The proposal has been phrased is such a manner as to exempt wireless providers since they assign IP addresses to multiple users or accounts, but DSL and cable providers have already vented their dissatisfaction.

On the other had, the National Sheriffs’ Association supports the bill. According to Cnet, Bedford County sheriff Michael Brown has made the Association’s feelings known during yesterday’s hearing on the matter: “The limited data retention time and lack of uniformity among retention from company to company significantly hinders law enforcement’s ability to identify predators when they come across child pornography.”

This is not the first time that a similar bill is being pushed by U.S. legislators, but previous attempts have always been blocked by privacy concerns. At the moment, ISPs are required by law to store logs up to 90 days only if asked to do so by government agencies.