ISP Data-Retention Bill Rankles Privacy Advocates

A proposed law designed to fight child pornography has rankled privacy advocates because it would require Internet service providers to keep 12-month logs of customers' names, credit card information and other identifying information that are tied to temporarily assigned network addresses.

Opponents say the law wouldn't markedly help lock up child pornographers and pedophiles, but rather would treat all Americans as criminals so that if law enforcement feels it has a need to find out who visited a website or posted a particular bit of content online, it can.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that the same data could become available to civil litigants in private lawsuits -- whether it's the recording industry trying to identify downloaders, a company trying to uncover and retaliate against an anonymous critic, or a divorce lawyer looking for dirty laundry. The group, which is asking people to about the issue, also says that the database created would be a new and valuable target for hackers.

"Essentially what this bill is attempting to do is make it such that you can never post anything online without there being a record indicating that you posted it," said Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney with the .

H.R. 1981 passed through the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Bankston said it doesn't appear the bill would substantially aid in the enforcement of child exploitation laws, which is its stated purpose.