Alberto Gonzales, U.S. attorney general, on Tuesday stood before the Senate Banking Committee and said he believes Congress should enact legislation that would force ISPs to retain customer data for longer periods of time because the information is needed to battle the rampant issue of online kiddy porn, the Associated Press reports via the New York Post.
Gonzales said he understands the concerns of ISPs and activists regarding potential privacy violations, but added that online child pornography is spreading rapidly over the Internet and it needs to be stopped, according to the AP.
“This is a problem that requires federal legislation,” Gonzales said, the AP reports. “We need information. Information helps us make cases.”
The U.S. attorney general said the fact that the government cannot currently access ISP customer data when needed is hindering its investigations, according to the AP.
Both Gonzales and FBI chief Robert Mueller have conveyed the message to a number of major ISPs—including AOL, Comcast and Google—and they’ve been told to hold onto all customer records for at least two years, the AP reports. In an effort to stop new legislation from being passed, some ISPs are considering voluntarily extending the duration in which they store customer data, according to the AP.
In June, roughly 50 state attorneys general sent to Congress a letter requesting that some form of law be passed to require ISPs to keep customer information for a longer period, and Gonzales on Tuesday said he agreed with the sentiment, the AP reports.
“We respect civil liberties, but we have to harmonize so we can get more information,” Gonzales said, according to the AP.
The Department of Justice earlier this year brought Google to court when it refused to provide its customers’ search records for assistance in a child pornography case.
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