As I write this HB 2288, which requires anyone providing internet connectivity to keep detailed records of users' browsing history, is being heard in front of the Committee on Economic Revitalization. This is arguably the most aggressive privacy invading internet data retention measure introduced by any state.The ill conceived HB 2288 was introduced by Rep. John Mizuno and championed by Rep. Kymberly Pine. Companion bill SB 2530 was introduced in the senate by Sen. Jill Tokuda. These bills, which are vaguely worded, could easily impose onerous requirements on not only ISPs but also every coffee shop and internet cafe in the state. They provide no privacy protections or rules with regard to how the data is handled. HB 2288 and SB 2530 open up every resident of the state to the possibility of their browsing history being subpoenaed not only in criminal cases, but also in civil matters. This is no different than the state requiring telephone companies to retain all your conversations.
I submitted the following testimony to the committee:
"I write in strong opposition. I wish to provide testimony with regard to HB 2288, which requires ISPs to capture and store all customers' internet traffic for a period of two years. In these times, the record of a person's browsing history is as close as you can get to a record of their thoughts. Even forcing telephone companies to record everyone's conversations, which is unthinkable, would be less of an intrusion. This bill represents a radical violation of privacy and opens the door to rampant Fourth Amendment violations. As with a phone tap, the state should be required to seek a warrant to record a person's browsing activities. Internet traffic can be far more personal than a phone call. Why should the protection of access be held to a lower standard?"
Although techies can obviously get around this by, for example, using a proxy server to hide destinations and SSL to make data opaque, this is a clear assault on the privacy of the average users' browsing history. The assault is also happening at the federal level thanks to SOPA author Rep. Lamar Smith, who introduced a similar (although less aggresive) bill which he calls the "Protect Children from Pornographers Act". The name is, of course, ludicrous given that it has absolutely nothing to do with protecting children from pornography.
The bill currently has support from both sides of the isle (Pine is a Republican, Mizuno a Democrat), so it will take a concerted effort to defeat it. Lets fight the good fight to protect our privacy. We are already getting national attention.
Many thanks to Aryn Nakaoka for bringing this bill to our attention, Yuka Nagashima for providing in-person testimony on behalf of our industry, Neenz Faleafine for helping spread the word and Declan McCullagh for giving it national attention.
Update: HB 2288 has been tabled and we've heard from multiple sources that it is effectively dead. SB 2530 is likely DOA, but it could be revived with modifications based on testimony. See the comments below for discussion regarding the numerous other bills that have been introduced relating to internet regulation and interference with business activities including the odious HB 2762.