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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Internet SAFETY Act: You and Your Router Work for the Police Now

Two bills in Congress—S.436 and H.R.1076—would turn all of us with wireless routers into Internet cops. The "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act" (Internet SAFETY Act) makes this requirement of Internet service providers:

A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user.

As Declan McCullagh at CNet News explains, that covers all the big companies as well as "operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users." Yes, DeLon, that means you, along with the 113 other wireless access points I discovered last week on a six-block walk up Harth Avenue. Even if you lock your router down with a password, the feds would still expect you to be able to turn over two years' worth of user access logs to the cops. Better break out the tech manuals, everybody!

It is worth noting that this bill will likely be bipartisan Big-Brotherhood. Texas Republicans Senator John Cornyn and Representative Lamar Smith are pushing the legislation, but Democrats proposed similar legislation in Congress three years ago. McCullagh also finds Attorney General Eric Holder expressed support for similar legislation in 1999, and Democratic chairman of House Judiciary John Conyers welcomes it.

Just curious: is this law anything like requiring DeLon to keep records of every person who walks into his Dairy Queen? Or requiring me to keep records of every person who visits my house?


  1. As a battle-scarred technophile, I have never, ever, ever considered wireless networking at my home installation. This pending legislation merely provides one more reason to stay away from the cotton pickin' things. A neighbor's kid could catch the signal and engage in all manner of nefarious exploits.

    I do have a hard-wired router, although at the present time, it's residing safely in the "junk box" along with various cables, connectors, and ham radio peripherals. I just don't use the Internet all that much. I'd rather read a good book, such as Listening Point by Sigurd F. Olson ... or operate the ham radio, which is the ultimate wireless!

    QRZ? DE W1GV K

  2. Should not have to worry about the neighbor's kid as long as you use the built in security of the wireless router. I use the MAC Address filter on mine, so unless your computers MAC Address is entered into my wireless router, you are not allowed access. Every computer has its own unique MAC Adress number.


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