For some time now
, Uncle Sam has been pushing for a law that would require ISPs retain all of their user logs for several years, with only a few ISPs
thinking that's a particularly good idea given the added regulation and cost. While the push for log retention seemed to stumble since it began in earnest in 2006, CNET
notes that the effort is seeing renewed focus in Washington. The push to retain which websites users visit is a bit of a privacy minefield, and carriers like Verizon are no more interested in skipping through it than they were in 2006:
"We're not set up to keep URL information anywhere in the network," said Drew Arena, Verizon's vice president and associate general counsel for law enforcement compliance. And, Arena added, "if you were do to deep packet inspection to see all the URLs, you would arguably violate the Wiretap Act." Another industry representative with knowledge of how Internet service providers work was unaware of any company keeping logs of what Web sites its customers visit.
Many ISPs covertly sell clickstream data to companies like Compete
, though none of them admit it, and the logs aren't kept. The laws the FBI are proposing would require ISPs track and store user visits by IP address, domain name, host name, and/or URL.
That last one would require deep packet inspection. You'll recall that current privacy laws
have kept many ISPs from diving into profitable behavioral advertising technology. It seems likely that an ISP like Verizon might bend on their opposition to user tracking if -- say -- the laws were changed to allow them to engage in user-tracking ad technology?