US official, FBI urge ISPs to save user data

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the US Congress should require Internet providers to preserve customer records, asserting that prosecutors needed them to fight child pornography, according to an Associated Press report.

The report said Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller had met with several Internet providers, including Time Warner's AOL, Comcast, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon Communications.

The law enforcement officials indicated to the companies that they must retain customer records, possibly for two years. The companies discussed strengthening their retention periods, which currently ran the gamut from a few days to about a year, to help avoid legislation, the report said.

During those meetings, which took place earlier this summer, US Justice Department officials asserted that customer records would help them investigate child pornography cases, the report said.

But the FBI also said during the meetings that such records would help their terrorism investigations, according to one person who attended the meetings but spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were intended to be private.

Testifying to a Senate panel, Gonzales acknowledged the concerns of some company executives who said legislation might be overly intrusive and encroach on customers' privacy rights.

But he said the growing threat of child pornography over the Internet was too great, according to the report.