At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Tuesday, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified that Internet service providers (ISP) should be required to retain the records of customers. The committee met to discuss the issue of Internet child pornography, and how to protect the innocence and lives of children.

The Attorney General's testimony attempted to walk the line between personal privacy and protection of children. Gonzales brought up in his statement a survey conducted by University of New Hampshire researchers for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children which revealed that "a full third of all kids aged 10 to 17 who used the Internet were exposed to unwanted sexual material." He also told the Senators that "the more information we can have, that respects the privacy rights and civil liberties of Americans, the more affective we can be in prosecuting these cases."

When asked about the issue of ISPs and data retention Gonzales said that more children can be saved from sexual predators if legislation is passed. "We need to figure out a way to have Internet service providers retain data for a sufficient period of time that allows us to go back and retrieve it, through legal process, in connection with the investigation of someone who is harming a child."

Gina M. Scott  |  Writer