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Re: ISPs' information on users

At 8:18 PM 9/24/96, Robert Hettinga wrote:
>--- begin forwarded text

>>  ------------------------------
>>  Brave Old World:
>>  Reflections on Europe in the Digital Age
>>  by Steven Carlson; 20 Sep 1996
>>  ------------------------------
>>  ** So Much Fuss About A Bottle Of Ketchup
>>  Hungarian police recently sent a fax around to the local Internet
>>  service providers (ISPs) asking them to provide lists of their users
>>  in Esztergom, a small town outside of Budapest. It seems somebody
>>  had planted a bomb in a bottle of ketchup. Since everyone knows you
>>  can download bomb-making instructions from the Internet, the police
>>  figured they should investigate the local users. No, I'm not making
>>  this up.

So, Hungary has GAK -- Government Access to Ketchup.

Good to know the 57 Varieties are now considered munitions.

On a more serious note, perhaps legal experts here could comment on
something I've been wondering about. Could ISPs in the UlS. be compelled to
report on the browsing and net surfing habits of their customer base?

To make this clear, I don't mean in a specific criminal case, where the
records are searchable under a warrant. I mean a blanket order that all
ISPs compile and forward records.

Were I an ISP, I would probably say, "Hell no! They're my records and the
Fourth Amendment says my records are to be secure unless a proper court
order is issued. Besides, my fee for generating each kilobyte of records is
$100,000, nonnegotiable."

(I think I've answered my own question, namely, ISPs would be under no
obligation to report on customer activities, absent a proper warrant, and
consistent with the ECPA.)

However, ISPs are _not_ accorded the same status as priests, lawyers, and
others with such privacy privileges (and obligations). Would it be legal
for an ISP to offer for sale such records? Or to voluntarily go to the

(There's a certain new ISP with tight links to a quasi-religious group much
in the news lately, and some have speculated that this ISP may be
monitoring certain users....)

--Tim May

We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."