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Gonzales pushes data retention to help child pornography investigations

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] said Thursday that the failure of Internet service providers to retain user records has impeded US Justice Department investigations into child pornography and said that the department is looking into setting "reasonable" data retention standards. In a speech [text] at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Gonzales said:

The investigation and prosecution of child predators depends critically on the availability of evidence that is often in the hands of Internet service providers. This evidence will be available for us to use only if the providers retain the records for a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, the failure of some Internet service providers to keep records has hampered our ability to conduct investigations in this area.

As a result, I have asked the appropriate experts at the Department to examine this issue and provide me with proposed recommendations. And I am going to reach out personally to the CEOs of the leading service providers and to other industry leaders to solicit their input and assistance.

Record retention by Internet service providers consistent with the legitimate privacy rights of Americans, is an issue that must be addressed.
Under the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act [text], ISPs are only required to keep records for 90 days if requested by the government to do so. Members of Congress, including Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) [official website] have also said they would support legislation mandating data retention [CNET report].

Earlier this year, the European Union approved [JURIST report] a controversial directive [PDF text] which requires EU member states to adopt measures to provide for the retention of citizens' phone call and Internet service data for a period of between six to 24 months. The EU measure, though intended in part to crackdown on pedophiles, is largely designed to track down terrorists and criminal gangs. CNET News has more.

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