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InvisibleOJK
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Why do our ISPs keep records of out IPs?
    #4319945 - 06/21/05 10:45 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

As far as I understand it, if person "A" signs up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), he is assigned an Internet Protocol Address (IP) which he then uses when browsing the web, filesharing or using any other Internet protocol.

Often, these IPs are dynamic (i.e. can change without notice).

If an ISP is subpoenaed or otherwise required or requested to surrender information about who was using a particular IP at a particular time, they simply check their records.

My question is this: could an ISP provide its users with a rapidly-changing dynamic IP address without records being kept of who used a particular address at a particular time? Firstly, would this be legal, and secondly, would this mean that the ISP itself was held accountable for the actions of its customers?

I ask because I am curious as to whether it could be legally possible to create an ISP whose customers enjoy genuine anonymity, without resorting to cruder methods of masking their IPs.

I posted this question in PAL because it is a primarily legal question. If any moderator feels that it would be better suited to another forum because of its technical nature, please feel free to move it.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: Why do our ISPs keep records of out IPs? [Re: OJK]
    #4320132 - 06/21/05 12:04 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

> could an ISP provide its users with a rapidly-changing dynamic IP address without records being kept of who used a particular address at a particular time?

Yes.

> Firstly, would this be legal

I assume you mean in the US. If so, as far as I know, there is no law that requires ISPs to maintain any sort of records or logs.

> would this mean that the ISP itself was held accountable for the actions of its customers?

No. However, if the ISP did not keep logs for the intent of allowing their customers to perform illegal activities, then the ISP might/would be liable or seen as part of a conspiracy by the courts.

If Ford makes a car that is used by a bank robber to get away quickly, is Ford responsible for the bank robbers actions? No. BUT, if Ford makes a "Bank Robber Get-away-car" expressly for the use by bank robbers, then yes, Ford is responsible for the bank robbers actions.


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InvisibleOJK
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Re: Why do our ISPs keep records of out IPs? [Re: Seuss]
    #4320165 - 06/21/05 12:11 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

How would the intent of the ISP not keeping logs be determined? Assuming the ISP advertised the service stressing simply it's anonymity and privacy, didn't make explicit reference to filesharing or anything else illegal, and included in its customer contract explicit forbadence of using the connection for illegal purposes, would the service therefor be legal?

I believe that, in an age of increasingly huge fines for filesharers, and increasing monitoring of one's behavior online, such a service would be extremely popular.


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Invisiblepsilomonkey
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Re: Why do our ISPs keep records of out IPs? [Re: OJK]
    #4320228 - 06/21/05 12:22 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Odiumjunkie said:
Firstly, would this be legal, and secondly, would this mean that the ISP itself was held accountable for the actions of its customers?

I ask because I am curious as to whether it could be legally possible to create an ISP whose customers enjoy genuine anonymity, without resorting to cruder methods of masking their IPs.





Yes it is technically possible, and it probably legal in most countries. As for the ISP being held accountable they most certainly would be, by other providers at least.

Even in legal action was not taken, they would find themselves sanctioned in other ways.

For example, they would find that other providers would stop accepting email if spammers used the service, and since the provider would not be able to trace and stop abuse, they would find their entire address ranges blacklisted.

Providers work with each other to deal will abuse of the Internet (not the same as abuse on the Internet). If providers don't play the game then find themselves out in the cold with noone wanting to peer* with them and their traffic black-holed.

*Peering is the process by which Internet providers connect and exchange routing information and traffic, which builds the Internet out of a collection of autonomous system.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: Why do our ISPs keep records of out IPs? [Re: OJK]
    #4323777 - 06/22/05 06:53 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

> How would the intent of the ISP not keeping logs be determined?

By the courts and a jury, most likely.

Quote:

For example, they would find that other providers would stop accepting email if spammers used the service, and since the provider would not be able to trace and stop abuse, they would find their entire address ranges blacklisted.




Bad example, but a decent point.  As an ISP, I can allow my users secure access to email with minimal logging.  A simple count on outgoing SMTP from each authenticated account name over time is all that is needed.  (If the count gets too large, lock the thing as a spammer.)  As long as I do not record/log an account name to an actual user, the anonymous nature is still maintained.

Of course, I am assuming that these are pay accounts, not free.  Your example is very valid if we are offering free anonymous access... as a spammer, I simply set up a new free account when my old one gets locked and continue to happily mail anonymously.

Even then, there are steps we can take.  Only so many accounts per day per IP can be created... only so many emails per account per day can be sent... we add five seconds to every email delivery... we do not allow bulk email to be sent... etc...

Hmmm... this would make a good research paper for a masters student.  Show what orginazational steps would be required for an ISP to allow anonymous service while maintaining accountability to prevent abuse.

Ok... so may be it wasn't such a bad example... :grin:


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