July 28, 2011 | By Adi Kamdar

EFF Warns Congress: Data Retention Would Endanger Privacy, Gain Little

EFF has joined civil liberties and consumer organizations in publicly opposing H.R. 1981, a bill that would threaten online privacy and anonymous speech by requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to retain logs of customer-identifying information that can be tied to the web sites that you read and the content that you post online.

The House Judiciary Committee will likely be voting this afternoon on whether to send the bill to the House floor, so there's still time to oppose this bill: contact your Representative now.

A coalition letter sent yesterday to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on behalf of 30 civil liberties and consumer advocacy organizations criticized Section 4 of the proposed bill, which requires ISPs to keep hold of temporarily assigned network addresses, or IP addresses, in case law enforcement officials demand them for any reason. These addresses can be used to identify you personally online and, when the right information is stored, may be used to track what websites you visit and what content you post. When access to such valuable information is made readily available, the data becomes ripe for abuse by law enforcement officials. It is particularly troublesome because the laws designed to protect the private data of consumers from government access are insufficient and out-of-date — creating a perfect storm for government abuse.

EFF and 29 other advocacy groups wrote:

We live in an age where our devices and the way we use the Internet are constantly generating records – what we read, where we go, who our friends are. If those records must always be saved for future use, they become a persistent and pervasive assault on our privacy and an irresistible temptation to law enforcement. That is why best practices in privacy demand the deletion of records as soon as they are no longer necessary – exactly the opposite of the mandate of H. R. 1981.

Please join EFF in opposing this bill. Contact your Representative to oppose mandatory data retention, and urge them to reject this assault on consumer privacy.

Read the coalition letter.


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