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June 22, 2006
McKenna, AGs Urge Congress and ISPs to Aid Online Predator Fight with New Data Retention Standards

OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today joined 48 other attorneys general nationwide in urging Congress to work with Internet Service Providers to adopt a meaningful data retention standard to protect data critical to online child pornography and sex crime investigations.

“Data captured by Internet Service Providers can be crucial to determining the location of abused children and building cases against their molesters,” McKenna said. “The state attorneys general are calling on Congress to work with the online industry and law enforcement to implement a meaningful data retention standard that respects the legitimate privacy rights of citizens and does not impose an unfair financial burden on service providers.”

Attorneys general addressed their letter to leaders of the following committees: House Energy and Commerce, House Judiciary, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation and Senate Judiciary.

“While law enforcement is doing more to catch online predators, their investigations are often tragically halted by ISP data retention policies that result in the destruction of information critical to determining a suspect’s name and physical location,” McKenna said.

As an example of the importance of data retention, the attorneys general referenced a case earlier this year involving an online video showing the horrific rape of a 2-year-old girl. After four months of work, an investigator traced the video to an ISP account in Colorado. However, the ISP had purged information relating the user after 30 days as parts of its standard data retention policy. As a result, the case was dropped and the suspect remains at large.

The letter also includes staggering statistics related to the risk children face online:

  • 1 in 5 children is solicited for sex online;
  • 1 in 33 receives a solicitation that involves off-line contact, such as a meeting or phone call;
  • 80 percent of individuals found with child porn possess images or videos of kids under the age of 12. Of those images, 40 percent are of children under the age of 6 and 20 percent are infants younger than 3.

Technical issues surrounding data retention are complex and the issue is national, if not global, in nature. Therefore, the attorneys general believe data retention requirements are better suited for federal legislation than state legislation, a position supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In their letter, attorneys general also commended efforts by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In a recent speech to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Gonzales asked experts in the Department of Justice to examine the data retention problem and offer recommendation for a solution. He later met with industry executives to urge them to retain records longer.

To view a copy of the letter signed by the attorneys general, click here.

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Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725


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