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January 30, 2011


The House Republicans’ first major technology initiative is about to be unveiled: a push to force Internet companies to keep track of what their users are doing.

A House panel chaired by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow morning to discuss forcing Internet providers, and perhaps Web companies as well, to store records of their users’ activities for later review by police.

One focus will be on reviving a dormant proposal for data retention that would require companies to store Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for two years, CNET has learned.

Tomorrow’s data retention hearing is juxtaposed against the recent trend to protect Internet users’ privacy by storing less data. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission called for “limited retention” of user data on privacy grounds, and in the last 24 hours, both Mozilla and Google have announced do-not-track technology.

Good grief. Bad move. Don’t do it.

UPDATE: On Facebook, Calvin Gordon Dodge comments: “I have an idea. Given that politicians are far more dangerous than the average person (since politicians wield far more power), let’s require that they keep track off all THEIR activity, and make it accessible to their employers (us) for 2 years.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reade Roy Horton emails: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water. They are the stupid party.”

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