Mandatory Data Retention In United States

Last updated: April 21, 2024 Reading time: 3 minutes
Data stored on passengers devices

Mandatory Data Retention Law in the United States is not implemented. But according to the law  Stored Communications Act (SCA) enforced as a part of the Communications Privacy Act in 1986, the government could access the retained data if a telecom provider or remote computing services collect a user’s communication data.

The SCA law supports Mandatory Data Retention by directing internet providers to retain a user’s data for about 180 days if the government asks to do so.

The type of internet service a company provides to its customers, the kind of data, the retained communication information, and the time duration for which the data has been kept are the variables that determine the possibility of gaining data access by government officials from internet providers.

SCA also says that the providers could reveal the data to the government at a time of necessity, i.e., if a crisis occurs and a delay in data revelation can cause danger to the life of a pern. However, a court order is required for the forced access to communication d ta. Yet, an administrative writ is necessary for the compelled access to the data such as user/subscriber name, address, telephone number, and phone calls and communications records, which the Court does not issue.

Ordering all Internet Providers to retain records of their users for at least two years, two bills were passed in 2009 by Congress to assist the police in investigating. But none of those bills could become an aw. Therefore, the oppositions and arguments continue from some legislators and law enforcement officials. However, mandatory data retention is still applicable for internet crimes, including online child pornography, which is essential to investigate.

A hearing under the supervision of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in January 2011 discussed the issue of whether Congress should have proposed legislation allowing ISPs to store users’ data. However, in May 2011, the “Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011” (H.R. 1981) was presented in the House of parliament, which requires the storage of such data.

H.R. 1981 law was implemented on the pretend grounds to stop child pornography. Through this, the ISPs were compelled to spy and retain all the citizens’ data, including the innocent ones, so that it could be used by law enforcement at a particular time.

ISPs are also ordered by H.R. 1981 law to keep ‘a temporary assigned network address to identify a user. Therefore, it refers to the IP addresses and the mobile phone internet services of the subscribers. Yet, this could also include mobile phone identifications such as mobile numbers and three mobile phone identifiers: IMEI, IMSI, TMSI, and others. Mobile phone companies use these IDs to identify a particular handset and its customer.

US states that could face extreme consequences of mandatory Data Retention are also unsafe from it. Also, the Hawaiian lawmakers held a hearing regarding the directives of state bill HB2288. It compels internet provider organizations in Hawaii to store anonymous user data for two years, including the user’s IP address and browsing history record; that data would include the user’s IP address, domain name, or hostname. Yet, ISPs are required to surveil a user’s activity on every website and should keep that record with the link to that particular user’s IP address.

However, including the US, many other nations pass laws supporting Mandatory Data Retention. To avoid such problems and make your data secure from prying eyes, you could follow our guide, ‘How To Protect Yourself From Metadata Retention‘.

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About the Author

Zehra Ali is a Tech Reporter and Journalist. She has done her Masters in Mass Communication. Topics related to cybersecurity, IoT, AI, Big Data and other privacy matters are extensively covered by her on various platforms. You can follow her on twitter.

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