A proposed new law would require all Internet providers to keep user and traffic records for two years. This is huge, as it also includes home users, hotels, and your local coffee shop. The legal and political aspects of this legislation are explained well by CNET’s Declan McCullagh in this CNET News post. I will focus on the issues that network administrators and others in the IT community would have with this law should it come to fruition.
First of all, this may mean the end of many free access points. If an organization has to expend extra effort (and incur liability) to provide free Wi-Fi with your crumpets and tea, this service may be first on the chopping block. This requirement extended to the home user will surely be haphazard, lacking support, and without consistency. The burden, in my opinion, will fall heavily on Internet service providers (ISPs) to log this information for residential accounts.
Many corporate users will be well equipped for this requirement, however. Most site filtering mechanisms are capable of logging blocked as well as allowed traffic. The two-year requirement would likely be a storage management topic for large organizations. The issue with that is allowed traffic hits so many domains and files. This is due to browsers calling subdomains, advertisements, and every image that may be on a page. And this is only Web traffic, rich media and other Web content may have requirements for archival as well. Luckily the requirement is for logs -– not a cache!
Overall, I’m not too worried, because the corporate user should be fine, and for the small office or home user, there will be ways to fulfill this requirement. We’d likely see a service built into anti-virus or home computer protection packages that could manage this part of the computing environment for a fee.
What issues do you see with this requirement for the computing landscape as a whole? Share your comments below.