[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] told members of the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Tuesday that Congress should mandate the preservation of customer records by Internet service providers in order to aid the prosecution of child pornography offenders. Testifying at a hearing [committee materials; recorded video], Gonzales maintained that lack of access to this data is the largest impediment in the prosecution of such offenders and said that "this is a problem that requires federal legislation." In a prepared statement [PDF text], Gonzales outlined several other DOJ proposals in this area:
The first would strengthen 42 U.S.C. § 13032, which requires Internet Service Providers to report violations of child pornography laws, by increasing the criminal penalties for knowing and willful failure to do so, and also establishing a new civil penalty for negligently failing to do so. The second would require warning labels to be placed on commercial websites containing sexually explicit material. The third would extend administrative subpoena power currently available under 18 U.S.C. § 3486 to obscenity investigations. And the fourth would add violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A and B as predicates for RICO and money laundering charges. I invite you to consider these proposals, which in our opinion will bolster our efforts in this area.Gonzales also reiterated praise for Congress for passing the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 [HR 4472 summary; PDF text; JURIST report].
Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile] met with major internet service providers in May and June urging them to retain records on customer internet activities [JURIST report] in order to help combat child pornography. The Justice Department [official website] wants to be able to view records that could help them identify which internet users visited specified websites and potentially which users conducted specified searches, as well as determine who exchanged e-mails with whom without disclosing the content of the e-mails. Gonzales has also urged states to standardize criminal statutes [JURIST report] dealing with sexual predators. AP has more.