It really was just a few months ago that our federal government was desperately trying to convince everyone that ISPs should be forced to retain all sorts of data on usage, long past any reasonable period for business purposes. Despite the fact that data retention rules are usually ridiculously expensive (increasing the price for end users) while making the important data harder to find, the government pulled out the "terrorism" card as a reason it was needed. However, with the embarrassing leak of AOL user data, suddenly our politicians are up in arms... over the exact opposite thing. Yes, that's right, now there's talk that we should pass laws to ban the retention of data like this. It's not a complete flip flop, of course. It's something of a partisan issue. The bill in question was introduced months ago, with the hope of preventing data retention laws that weaken everyone's privacy. The AOL flap has simply given new life to the supporters of this bill. However, it will be interesting to see if the AOL leak and the publicity it's generated will actually get people to pay attention to some of the reasons why forced data retention is a very bad idea.
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