Relegate Mandatory Data Retention to the Dustbin of History

Greg Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology reports on yesterday’s hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 1981, the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011. (I lamented the bill earlier this week, as did Julian Sanchez last week.)

Rep. Sensenbrenner [(R-Wis.)], Chair of the Crime Subcommittee, opened the hearing with an extraordinarily strong attack on the bill. Saying the Committee should relegate mandatory data retention to the dustbin of history, he attacked the data retention provision on economic and privacy grounds. “I believe this bill is bad policy and I will do my best to kill it.” He also said, “This bill runs roughshod over the privacy rights of people who use the Internet for thousands of lawful purposes … this bill should be defeated and put in the dustbin of history.” He also lashed out at the provision in the bill (Section 7) that would give the U.S. Marshals administrative subpoena authority to investigate unregistered sex offenders, reminding the Subcommittee that as Chairman of the full Committee during the debates about reauthorizing the Patriot Act in 2005 or 2006, he had examined the issues surrounding administrative subpoenas and determined that admin subpoena authority would be too much a risk to privacy to confer on the gov’t.

Kudos to Rep. Sensenbrenner for considering the privacy consequences of this bill and the risks in conferring too much power on the government. I’d be in favor of his keeping these concerns in mind with policies well beyond data retention.