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Bill Would Require ISPs, Wi-Fi Users To Keep Logs 857

suraj.sun notes CNet reporting on bills filed in the US House and Senate that would require all ISPs and operators of Wi-Fi hotspots — including home users — to maintain access logs for 2 years to aid in law enforcement. The bills were filed by Republicans, but the article notes that the idea of forcing data retention has been popular on both sides of the aisle over the years. "Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that... 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. ... Each [bill] contains the same language: 'A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user [i.e., DHCP].'"
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Bill Would Require ISPs, Wi-Fi Users To Keep Logs

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  • Good Joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic ( 814296 ) <spazztastic@TEAgmail.com minus caffeine> on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:46AM (#26928015)
    Logging for 2 years? Who is going to pay for the storage costs, backups, etc.? I'm not going to foot the bill for it or get fined because my cheap Linksys router dies after six months of use and I lose my logs.
    • Re:Good Joke (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:24AM (#26928569)

      Everybody here should write to both of their Senators and their Representative (regardless) and simply provide a link to this /. thread to educate them on all the technical reasons why this bill is very ill-conceived.

      In layman's terms most of the reasons boil down to:

      1. The required equipment will cost private citizens and small businesses a prohibitive amount of money. Many homes will find themselves spending more on their log archive than they spent on their computers, and small Internet cafe businesses simply be forced to close.

      2. It will require expertise which most people simply don't have, forcing everybody to hire IT professionals to manage their home networks. (Ask your congerssperson if they know how to set up such a log without enlisting the help of an expert. Then ask them how a working-class family could ever afford to hire such help simply to use the Internet on their home laptops.)

      3. It will utterly fail to achieve the objective of preventing anonymous Internet use. HDCP logs only record MAC addresses, which can easily be forged and sometimes are not even unique.

      This bill is about as useful and practical as asking people to keep a filing cabinet full of photographs of every shoe-footprint that ever shows up in their back garden. It richly deserves to be laughed off the floors of Congress, should it ever even get that far.

      • by Spazztastic ( 814296 ) <spazztastic@TEAgmail.com minus caffeine> on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:40AM (#26928853)
        I agree with you 100%, Golias, but whoever wrote this bill clearly doesn't understand the concept of a MAC address. If you tell them you can forge their MAC address, they will say "But I'm on windows!"
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bhtooefr ( 649901 )

          OK, then introduce the term as Media Access Control address, or even refrain from ever using the TLA.

          I would explain it like something like this:

          "In addition, the only information that can be logged is the Media Access Control address, an address that each computer network card is assigned. However, the Media Access Control address can very easily be forged, with no proof of such forgery ever taking place, making such logs useless for tracking down a criminal, or possibly even incriminating an innocent pers

      • by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:02PM (#26930231)
        Senators [senate.gov] and Representatives [house.gov]. There you go, it doesn't get much simpler than that.
        1. Follow the links
        2. Cut and paste the above post
        3. Slap your name on it
        4. ??
        5. Profit! We as a nation will profit from having one less retarded bill rammed through.
    • Re:Good Joke (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:36AM (#26928765) Homepage

      Did anybody point out that text files are easy to edit? Lines can be altered, removed or even added to them!

      • Re:Good Joke (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spazztastic ( 814296 ) <spazztastic@TEAgmail.com minus caffeine> on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:37AM (#26928807)

        Did anybody point out that text files are easy to edit? Lines can be altered, removed or even added to them!

        Not only that, unless if they are continually pushed to a secure location you could alter them the second that you receive a notice from law enforcement to provide them with logs. They wouldn't know any better if it's authentic or not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilkasper ( 1292798 )
      another question is how is Joe average who barely set up his home wireless network going to even begin to try and keep logs? Are the feds going to send him to school, or do they expect him to pay someone to do it for him?
  • Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaeson ( 563206 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:47AM (#26928023) Homepage

    Home users are really gonna do this. Oh and they will all patch their machines too.

    • by aadvancedGIR ( 959466 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:59AM (#26928195)

      That's the very idea, they will never tell you do do it or how they expect your logs to be autenticated, so everyone will be on the wrong side of the law and the days some cops will be pissed that he didn't find any weapon, drug or libertarian literature while reading your house, that will be one more of the many reasons he could arrest you anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        How is this modded "+5 Funny"? It should be "+5 Insightful".

        People are already breaking one law or another. Let's see, the most common laws I see being broken without a thought:
        - Speeding
        - copyright infringement on the internet
        - jay walking
        - marijuana use
        - (NEW)average user with a wireless network, unsecured or secured.

        We're all criminals.

    • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bwcbwc ( 601780 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:33AM (#26928715)
      Exactly. So in effect this just becomes an excuse to hold just about anyone in jail while they search through your house for porn or whatever. As a home user, I would argue that I'm not providing a service, so I'm not subject to the requirement. If I were a small-business owner I'd be screaming at congress to get a life.
  • Stimulus Storage? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by certain death ( 947081 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:48AM (#26928033)
    Does that mean we will receive a stipend for storage in order to keep said logs for two years? If the government is going to require me to keep them, then they need to enable me with at least 3 terabytes of storage!
  • Yea... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:48AM (#26928045)

    Most people don't know how to turn on WEP or WPA encryption on their wireless routers let along find how to turn on logging and setting a backup routine to keep years of data. Heck most people/governments/companies cant keep years of data on their own PC.

    I wonder how many of these lawmakers are in compliance of this purposed law.

    • Re:Yea... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:05AM (#26928283)
      The first rule of a police state is that EVERYONE is breaking the law. You just pass laws that are impossible or unreasonable to follow and then when you want to come down on someone, you just hit them with a bunch of bullshit charges. So if federal law enforcement kicks down your door on some bogus child porn charge and doesn't find any child porn, they can save face, rather than just admit their mistake, by busting you on all the *other* stuff they found (your marijuana stash, your bootleg mp3's, and now the fact that you weren't keeping 2 years of archived data, and so on).
      • Re:Yea... (Score:5, Funny)

        by paganizer ( 566360 ) <{thegrove1} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:26AM (#26928599) Homepage Journal

        There are 3 sorts of responses to this post.
        the first type, which I expect to see shortly, is from the "tinfoil hat" contingent; the type that will tell you to take off your tinfoil hat when you post anything about the Echelon system, for example.
        The 2nd type is from the "jaded acknowledger's" contingent; usually it takes the form of "No Shit. But what you gonna do?".
        The 3rd type is from the "meta" group. Hi.

      • Re:Yea... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:27AM (#26928619) Homepage Journal

        The first rule of a police state is that EVERYONE is breaking the law.

        As tedious as it is, Atlas Shrugged has something to teach us. Don't bother to read the book though, all you need to know is in the following quote [wordpress.com]:

        "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against--then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted--and you create a nation of law-breakers--and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

        Sometimes I feel like a bot whose only real purpose is to paste this quote. But as it is a leading force in American society that people seem to have mostly forgotten, I believe it bears some heavy repetition.

        • Re:Yea... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:46AM (#26929963)

          The worst thing about this in the real world is that I just don't think that the bad intentions that your quote implies are actually there for the most part. Most of these legislators are just seeking solutions to the problems that exist in society at the command of their constituents (voters and special interests).

          These constituents are the people who get upset about having a national biometric database for identification purposes, but demand nationalized health care.

          Sure, we don't have a National Database(tm) in some government building, but they do have to have to have access to all of your medical records in order to deal with your claims. In the end, the result is the same: the government has your biometric data, but they can't even really be efficient about it, because of your rights. That situation won't stop the abuses, but it will impede the system it is there to support.

          To put it more briefly, many of the very things that we protest about in terms of individual freedoms being lost are things that we'll be more than happy to trade for the government running some service for us or protecting us from every possible threat.

          You know, people constantly point to corporations running the local store, the local police and various other services as a corrupt practice. But what about when the government runs everything... because we demanded that they do by demanding more and more laws and programs? They have a monopoly on force, and you get everything from them. That would be bad enough if the government was actually responsive to the citizenry, but we all know that the government is run by the people who can stick their faces in front of the legislators and executives enough.

          So, I have very little patience with people who get upset with the government for getting in their faces about stuff like this, but at the same time demand their safety nets and stimulus packages. The consistent message that we are sending the government these days is "fix our problems for us".

          The only solution to the issue is not more laws, but fewer and clearer laws. Fewer programs and less expecting of people like Congress and the President to "create jobs" or "protect our children". The government should not become an omnipresent service organization.

      • Re:Yea... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bwcbwc ( 601780 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:38AM (#26928811)

        that's what happened to the MIT girl at Logan airport. Instead of admitting they had f-ed up, they charged her with bringing a hoax bomb into the airport. A lot of home routers don't have the capacity to hold 2 years worth of data and don't have the capabillity to offload old log files to another machine, unless you violate the DMCA to hack into the file system.

        That brings up another aspect: is this really an anti-terrorism/hacking law or is it really just an RIAA/MPAA tool to give them the info they need to sue the pants off of people?

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:51AM (#26928071) Homepage Journal

    The unintended consequence of this is that every user on a system is going to get a fixed ipv6 ip and ipv4 traffic would be gradually phased out. Why bother with the administrative burden of issuing an IP address via dhcp and tracking it, when, you could have an ipv6 theoretically assigned to a customer for the life of a device.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CRCulver ( 715279 )
      For things such as LAN routers where the amount of clients who will connect will be relatively small, don't they typically give the same IPv4 address out again and again to the same MAC address?
  • naturally... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:52AM (#26928077)

    they just *had* to get the children involved in this somehow.. the full title of the legislation is:

    Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act

    • Re:naturally... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:56AM (#26928143)

      Yea having the parents in jailed/heavily fined because they didn't keep backup logs will really help the children grow up to be useful and productive systems. Because we all know if your parents are in jail and/or living in poverty helps kids grow up to be good citizens.

    • Re:naturally... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by VShael ( 62735 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:58AM (#26928179) Journal

      Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act

      Internet SAFETY Act...

      Well, you can't really blame them. They have a pathological need to make their bills acronym friendly.
      No doubt some dickwad came up with the "Internet SAFETY Act" and gave it to some peon to work out what SAFETY should stand for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by thesolo ( 131008 ) *
        Can we pass a law that prevents lawmakers from coming up with bills that have contrived acronyms in them? The USA PATRIOT Act was bad enough.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by VShael ( 62735 )

          Can we pass a law that prevents lawmakers from coming up with bills that have contrived acronyms in them?

          Sure! We'll call it "The No Acronym Memes in Bipartisan Legislation Act"

          Or Nambla.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by meist3r ( 1061628 )
      Same happens in Germany just now, they're introducing an Internet censorship archtitecture by proxy of vetting it "against child pornography" even though the majority of researchers and experts tell them it's useless.

      The people have grown tired of that invisible threat of terrorism and since no one is scared enough by that anymore they need something new ... unfortunately most people are uninformed hysterical douchebags that cry "think of the children" and then burn down the house next door because alleg
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Huntr ( 951770 )
      Because what kind of asshole would vote against something that keeps kids safe from the Internet? At least, that's their thinking behind it.
    • Re:naturally... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:31AM (#26928689) Journal

      Today's children are tomorrow's adults. If we create a police state where everyone is a criminal, then we have ruined our children's lives and done a poor job as parents.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:52AM (#26928081)

    I discovered that if I log my wifi router to /dev/null, it works really fast and never seems to fill up, how excellent!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Piranhaa ( 672441 )

      If they ever request logs from you, just give them a printout of /dev/urandom and call it a day!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:52AM (#26928093)

    Rorschach's log, Feb 20th, 1985

    8:50 AM:
    Internet connection activated by the scum of this city. Repugnant person scouring 4chan. May be a furry. Must investigate.

    9:27 AM:
    Wifi user connected to Google Docs. Probably writing communist pamphlet. His web document is shouting to Google's server "save me." I pull internet connection and icmp back "no".

    9:45 AM:
    Somebody killed one of my servers tonight. Server logs say "slashdot". Might be planning something big.


  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:54AM (#26928117) Journal

    is too clueless to secure his wireless router, how the heck is he/she/it going to know how to maintain a 2 year log file of every access?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Piranhaa ( 672441 )

      Next thing the gov't could do is to set up a centralized syslog server. Then they'd announce something like, "Well, if you can't keep logs for 2 years, just enter 'syslog.gov' into the syslog portion on your routers. Sure, we might see a few 'extra' unnecessary pieces of log files, but we PROMISE to ignore them." OR better yet, REQUIRE (by default), that router manufacturers include it by default in their firmwares.

      Sounds like the US is already turning into more and more of a police state every time I hear

  • by Chaoscrypt ( 1476283 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:54AM (#26928125) Assigned to 01:23:45:67:89:01 20090220135000

    Going to be when the 1st bit is a setting made by me and the MAC address is easily Spoofable.

    What next - everyone must register the MAC addresses of all their network kit and sanctions if you change it ?

    More idiocy from people that dont understand how stuff works.

  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:58AM (#26928177)

    The Republicans want this "in the interest of national security" so they can stop the terr-rists.

    The Democrats want this so they can save the children from all of that evil kiddie porn, and also so the **AA can better control the media you consume, kill P2P and net neutrality, and bill you for it appropriately.

    They both want stuff like this so they can control the citizens better.

    Where's the party who doesn't want any of this shit and thinks the government has much, much more important stuff on its plate right now?

    • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:00AM (#26928209) Journal

      Where's the party who doesn't want any of this shit and thinks the government has much, much more important stuff on its plate right now?


  • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:08AM (#26928315)

    Wish I had one of those handy forms, but it boils down to this:

    Even if I kept logs, if they can hack my network, they can hack my logs. In fact, it would probably be easier than the initial hack.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:25AM (#26928575)
    I have written a number of articles explaining why data retention policies are terrible [codemonkeyramblings.com] in words that the average user can understand. The biggest one, IMO, for the average person, is the amount of personal information that their ISP would have to keep on them, and how that would make their ISP an identity theft goldmine for criminals.
  • Tit for Tat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GrantRobertson ( 973370 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:41AM (#26928875) Homepage Journal
    I'll support this as soon as they pass legislation requiring all legislators to record and video all conversations they have - 24 hours a day - in order to make sure they don't do any backroom dealing not in the public's best interest.
  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:53AM (#26929089)
    If most normal users can't be even bothered to setup WiFi WPA correctly what's the hope of logging 2 years worth or data? And where exactly are you going to log the 2 years worth of data?? What happens if a power surge blows up your device? If it's logged over the Internet then there's going to be bottleneck somewhere which will flood your supposedly stressed out network. Personally I think this requirement is a joke and I hope the folks who vote on this will realize this won't work. Protect the children? You know if you're going to be this anal how about just banning the Internet for kids until they're old enough? Myself I didn't use the Internet until University simply because it didn't exist yet. Maybe it'll teach kids that there's other more reliable sources than the Internet. (Like books?)
  • by Selivanow ( 82869 ) <selivanow@gmail.com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:28AM (#26929711)

    Ok, so everyone thinks that this is going to be a big deal. How many of you have actually read Title 18 section 2703 (you should also read chapters 119 and 121 in their entirety as the include definitions)?

    from Title 18, Chapter 121, Section 2711:

    (2) the term "remote computing service" means the provision to the public of computer storage or processing services by means of an electronic communications system;

    now, I don't know about you, but my WiFi router is not for the PUBLIC. Of course IANAL, but it appears that I do not operate a "remote computing service" nor am I a provider of an "electronic communication service". I provide no service to anyone outside of my family.

    So, I fail to see the trouble here. They want ISPs, and WiFi hotspots (ie: Restaurants, Coffee Shops, etc.) to retain records. Note how it does not say you must OBTAIN information from your customers, just retain what information you have.

    One other thing that I have not seen mentioned yet. MAC addresses are not guaranteed to be unique, only unique on a particular LAN. There is no guarantee that no two wireless devices that ever connect to your WiFi will not have the same MAC address. This coupled with the fact that there is no way to track a MAC address to a particular person....

    Really, why do we even bother.

I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan