Big Brother on the Internet? (week in review)

Justice Department pushes data retention, while the Internet goes down in Egypt. Also: Netflix strong-arming ISPs?

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
4 min read

There is a move afoot in the U.S. government to require Internet service providers to keep tabs on their customers.

Criminal investigations "are being frustrated" because no law currently exists to force Internet providers to keep track of what their customers are doing, the U.S. Department of Justice told Congress. The department's position on mandatory data retention says Congress should strike a "more appropriate balance" between privacy and police concerns.

Justice Department's Jason Weinstein wanted data retention legislation but offered few details.
The Justice Department's Jason Weinstein wants data retention legislation but offers few details.

"Data retention is fundamental to the department's work in investigating and prosecuting almost every type of crime," said Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division. "The problem of investigations being stymied by a lack of data retention is growing worse."

However, members of Congress chided the U.S. Department of Justice for suggesting a new law requiring Internet companies to keep records of user activity, but not disclosing details on how it should be crafted to aid criminal investigations.

"When are you going to get a specific proposal?" said Rep. John Conyers, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary committee, apparently recalling that mandatory data retention proposals have been circulating since 2005. "How many years is this going to take?"
•  GOP pushing for ISPs to record user data
•  Senator proposes mobile-privacy legislation

More headlines

Egypt's Internet goes dark during political unrest

In a stunning development unprecedented in the modern history of the Internet, a country of more than 80 million people finds itself almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the world.
•  There's no such thing as 'social media revolution'
•  Why Twitter is mum on Egypt block
•  Facebook: Egypt hasn't blocked us yet

Is Netflix trying to embarrass certain ISPs?

Netflix says ISPs don't want to share the costs of delivering streaming video, so the company will publish a list of ISPs best at delivering Netflix content. Which ISPs will be at the bottom?
•  How well does your ISP stream Netflix?
•  Netflix: Why Time Warner slams us
•  Netflix reports big profits, subscriber gains

Sony's NGP (Next Generation Portable): The PSP2 (photos)

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Sony unveils 'Next Generation Portable,' the new PSP

In Tokyo, Sony rolls out the first complete revamp of its PlayStation Portable. With a 5-inch OLED screen, dual analog sticks, 3G, Wi-Fi, and more, it's an exciting reboot for the PSP line.
•  Your guide to the Sony Next Generation Portable
•  Sony NGP a 'serious threat' to Nintendo 3DS?
•  Tale of two portables: Sony NGP vs. Nintendo 3DS

Amazon: Kindle books outselling paperbacks

For the first time, Amazon.com reports that it is selling more Kindle e-books than paperbacks. Since January 1, for every 100 paperback books Amazon sold, the company sold 115 Kindle books.
•  Another sharing service piggybacks on Kindle lending
•  Amazon officially launches Kindle Singles
•  Amazon has its first $10 billion quarter

Facebook lets users turn on crypto

Facebook helps people protect against account compromises by offering the ability to use full-session encryption across the site.
•  Facebook blames bug for Zuckerberg page hack
•  Facebook selling user content to advertisers

AT&T sees slowdown in new wireless subscriptions

As AT&T girds for the day when the iPhone is no longer exclusive to its network, it ekes out healthy revenue and profit for its fourth quarter.
•  iPhone service pricing: Verizon vs. AT&T (FAQ)

Verizon keeps unlimited data plan for iPhone--for now

Verizon Wireless will temporarily offer an unlimited data plan for $30. The carrier also provided more detailed guidance on how many iPhones it expects to sell in 2011.
•  Verizon's iPhone hot spot to cost $20 a month
•  Verizon offers trade-in credit for AT&T iPhones

Windows Phone 7 sales top 2 million

Microsoft says it has sold more than 2 million Windows Phone 7 devices to carriers and through retail channels.

Google plans biggest hiring year in its history

After hiring 4,500 people in 2010, Google wants to hire well over 6,000 people across the board as it gears up for 2011.

A new (old) way to protect privacy: disclose less

Microsoft and IBM pilot project uses encryption to deliver a high-tech twist on a common sense observation: allowing you to divulge less information about yourself protects your privacy.
•  Microsoft offers up tips, stats on location privacy

News Corp.'s iPad magazine launching Feb. 2

It'll be launching in New York, not San Francisco, and there's no promise that Steve Jobs will be there.
•  State of the Union on the state of iPad video

Study: By 2030, world can run on renewables

Global energy creation and use computations show existing wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen, wave, and tidal power could run the world.

Also of note
•  LinkedIn files for IPO
•  'The Social Network' nominated for eight Oscars
•  Wear your earbuds in the street, get fined?