The FBI is putting the pressure on ISPs to keep logs of what user do online, and then to keep these records for at least two years. FBI Director Robert Mueller is calling for the retention of user “origin and destination information.”
CNET has a great article up tracing out the history of the FBI’s call for data logs. From the article:
As far back as a 2006 speech, Mueller had called for data retention on the part of Internet providers, and emphasized the point two years later when explicitly asking Congress to enact a law making it mandatory. But it had not been clear before that the FBI was asking companies to begin to keep logs of what Web sites are visited, which few if any currently do.
One has to wonder how all of that information is going to be useful. If you’re trying to parse everything that an ISP’s customer has done over the course of two years, you’re going to end up in the territory of Excel spreadsheets that bring even the mightiest CPUs to a crawl.
Another concern is whether or not such a law for logging data explicitly for the purpose of federal investigation in some way violates the Constitution. For example, American citizens are entitled to an expectation of privacy. In my opinion, this if you’re just visiting a website in your home that doesn’t have any social features, this activity should be considered private. If, on the other hand, you’re on a site interacting with users, then you’re being less private.
Personally, any proposals for data logging set off my internal Orwellian sensors. The FBI argument will be that more data will allow for better policing of criminal activity, but that’s also the problem: all of the user data collected would be more or less for the purpose of prosecuting people. And the last thing we need in the US is more ways to put people in jail.