Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

1/26/2011
03:21 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Justice Department Wants ISPs To Store More Data

Government investigators are finding that ISPs don't record enough about what their customers are doing.

The Department of Justice on Tuesday expressed concern that Internet service providers are not keeping enough data about customers, a worry also raised by Bush administration officials.

At a hearing held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security titled "Data Retention as a Tool for Investigating Internet Child Pornography and Other Internet Crimes," Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, outlined the utility of ISP data in criminal investigations and testified that Internet companies increasingly are failing to store that data for possible use by authorities.

"One mid-size cell phone company does not retain any records, and others are moving in that direction," Weinstein said in prepared remarks. "A cable Internet provider does not keep track of the Internet protocol addresses it assigns to customers, at all. Another keeps them for only seven days -- often, citizens don’t even bring an Internet crime to law enforcement’s attention that quickly. These practices thwart law enforcement’s ability to protect the public."

It's not that companies don't want to help law enforcement, Weinstein said. Rather, they limit their data retention to cut costs, and sometimes to protect customer privacy.

Regardless of motivation, the effect has been to frustrate investigators. Weinstein cited a child pornography investigation in which child sexual abuse images were uploaded hundreds of times to various groups of offenders. When investigators sought information about those distributing and accessing the images within a six month period, 33 of 172 requests for data (19%) could not be answered because the ISPs had no data to provide.

It's hard to find anyone who wouldn't bend or break the law to imprison pedophiles. Even a civil liberties group opposed to the government's desire to require greater data retention, the Center for Democracy & Technology, is at pains to state that it supports greater resources for prosecuting this "horrific crime."

But the government's reliance on this emotionally charged issue to win backing for regulations requiring Internet businesses to keep better track of their customers clouds issues of cost and constitutionality that arise from impressment -- forcing the private sector into the service of law enforcement.

As John B. Morris, general counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, pointed out in his testimony, mandatory data retention would affect everyone, not just child pornographers, raising free speech and privacy issues, and would adversely burden businesses with regulations and expanded security obligations.

"Few foreign corporations would trust American providers if they were required by the U.S. government to monitor and record data about every communication made over the cloud computing service," he said in a statement. "Indeed, it is possible that laws in foreign countries would prohibit their companies from using U.S.-based services subject to a data retention mandate."

Weinstein cited the Electronic Frontier Foundation's recommendations to ISPs -- that they retain as little data as is necessary to protect themselves from costs and liability -- as a reason greater data retention should be required.

The EFF unsurprisingly disagrees, citing past unlawful demands for information by the Justice Department as an example of the problem posed by data retention.

"Advocates for data retention typically focus narrowly on the benefits afforded to law enforcement without accounting for the massive costs and extreme security risks that come with storing significant quantities of data about every Internet user -- databanks that will prove to be irresistible not only to government investigators but also civil litigants (read: ex-spouses, insurance companies, disgruntled neighbors) and malicious hackers of every stripe," the EFF argues.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-3493
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
The overlayfs implementation in the linux kernel did not properly validate with respect to user namespaces the setting of file capabilities on files in an underlying file system. Due to the combination of unprivileged user namespaces along with a patch carried in the Ubuntu kernel to allow unprivile...
CVE-2021-3492
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
Shiftfs, an out-of-tree stacking file system included in Ubuntu Linux kernels, did not properly handle faults occurring during copy_from_user() correctly. These could lead to either a double-free situation or memory not being freed at all. An attacker could use this to cause a denial of service (ker...
CVE-2020-2509
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
A command injection vulnerability has been reported to affect QTS and QuTS hero. If exploited, this vulnerability allows attackers to execute arbitrary commands in a compromised application. We have already fixed this vulnerability in the following versions: QTS 4.5.2.1566 Build 20210202 and later Q...
CVE-2020-36195
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
An SQL injection vulnerability has been reported to affect QNAP NAS running Multimedia Console or the Media Streaming add-on. If exploited, the vulnerability allows remote attackers to obtain application information. QNAP has already fixed this vulnerability in the following versions of Multimedia C...
CVE-2021-29445
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-16
jose-node-esm-runtime is an npm package which provides a number of cryptographic functions. In versions prior to 3.11.4 the AES_CBC_HMAC_SHA2 Algorithm (A128CBC-HS256, A192CBC-HS384, A256CBC-HS512) decryption would always execute both HMAC tag verification and CBC decryption, if either failed `JWEDe...