I testified earlier this week about “data retention” before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. (For a more in-depth look at CDT's position, please refer to the written testimony we submitted to the committee, it digs into the issue in some depth and sets out the very serious problems that we see with data retention proposals.) In short, the idea of data retention is that the government would require ISPs, and possibly even online service providers such as Facebook and Hotmail, to record and retain information about users’ communications online, so that law enforcement could later access the information. The potential scope of the data retention is undefined, but some proposals have been pretty breathtaking, and if the concept were applied to online services it would cover pretty much any Web 2.0 site, including any site that allows users to post comments or other content (including blog sites, newspaper sites, and, I suppose, CDT’s own site).
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