Torrent Freak just posted an article where they polled ISPs on how long they keep public IP address assignment logs – i.e. IP address 126.96.36.199 equals John Steele, 234 Belowme Ave., Miami, FL.
Currently there is no laws requiring ISP to maintain these logs for any time frame. Most ISPs do keep logs for at least a few months. Having these logs on hand gives the ISP some “reach-back” potential for troubleshooting and court/U.S Government requests for information. In my opinion, the ISPs try to keep the U.S. Government happy and avoid having them meddle in their business affairs. This is simply the cost of doing business for them.
Some of the ISPs were upfront about the time frame, while others decided not to reply. Here is what TF found.
Time Warner Cable (TWC)
Up to 6 months back. TWC posts its data retention policy on its website.
Comcast did not respond to our inquiries but has mentioned a 6 months policy for IP-addresses in BitTorrent-related court documents. The 180 day policy is also mentioned in the Comcast Law Enforcement Handbook that leaked in 2007.
Approximately 1 year.
6 months. Cox didn’t reply, but previously it has mentioned a 6 month retention policy for IP-address assignments in the press. In Cox’s “Lawful Intercept Worksheet” the company also mentions that logs are kept for “up to 6 months.”
AT&T’s IP-address logging practices are not public.
1 year. Their IP-address retention policy can be found here - Charter’s website .
Sonic was not listed in the TF article, but recently they changed their policy to only keep these logs for 14 days. Sonic believes that this amount of logs allows them to keep relevant data for Law Enforcement (LE) or other “real” legal proceedings. By keeping smaller logs, the ISP is still able to help customers, LE, U.S. Government agencies, and Plaintiffs who are truly serious about their situations/cases/investigations, etc. Sonic was very clear to comment that this limited logging was in no way meant as a marketing tool to attract customers who wish to hide their activities from disclosure.
It will be interesting to see how the ISP adapt to public IP address assignment logging when ”Six Strikes” starts. Will the time frame for all of the six-strikes be the default ISP retention period or does it get extended? Also I’m sure we will see other attempts to mandate longer log retention into law.