Valley ISPs not feeling pressure to disclose records
Local Internet service providers say they haven’t felt government pressure to hold customer records longer, and they won’t hand over records to law enforcement officials unless they have to.Two of the Roaring Fork Valley’s local Internet companies, the Roaring Fork Internet Users Group (Rofintug) and Sopris Surfers, also said they only currently keep records for about a month. “If [government agencies] want general fishing, we will try to protect customers as much as we can,” said Rofintug manager Chris Dobbins. “If they just want general information about customers, we won’t give it to them.”Sopris Surfers president Paul Huttenhower said he would be careful in divulging information if government officials asked. “If a situation like that would occur, what I would do is get with our attorney,” he said. “I’m not going to make that call. Our attorney would make that call.”Many Internet companies, such as Comcast and Google, have faced pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI and other agencies to hold records for as long as two years. The extended records are primarily sought to help with terrorism and child pornography investigations.The Associated Press reported that industry representatives were to meet with Justice Department officials Friday, and that officials may ask for Congress to require more record-keeping by law.Dobbins said he has heard about the pressure other companies are facing, but government agencies have not pressured his company directly at all.”We haven’t had any calls or letters or anything like that,” he said, but added that he is aware of what’s been happening to the larger companies in the industry.Rofintug has about 3,200 customers, and Sopris Surfers has about 5,000. If Congress were to pass legislation requiring records be held longer, both companies said the impact most likely would be minimal. Consumers also would not be likely to see rates increase at the two companies.”If it came down to the fact we’re required, we’d have to get bigger backup disks,” Huttenhower said. Neither company would have to really change operations – it would just require more computers to store the extra, older records.Dobbins also said the data stored is limited – finding out exactly who did what and when “would take kind of a project.””We don’t have at our fingertips a history of where people have visited on the Internet,” he said.Comcast and Qwest are also national companies with customers in the valley, but representatives did not return repeated phone calls.Dobbins and Huttenhower both said that to their knowledge, no government agencies had probed them for information on customers. Sopris Surfers once approached the FBI about a customer, but that was only after the company had proof of illegal activity.”That was more this individual was maliciously attacking our network,” Huttenhower said.Greg Schreier’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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