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House ISP-logging proposal would exempt wireless

A top House Republican is planning to propose that Internet service providers be required to store information about their customers to aid police in criminal investigations, CNET has learned. But a recent draft has one huge exception: wireless companies aren't included.

That appears to be the result of lobbying from wireless providers, which don't want to have to comply with any new governmental mandates. But the exemption has already drawn the ire of the U.S. Justice Department, which says it doesn't go far enough and is likely to attract strong opposition from cable and DSL providers that would be the ones singled out for regulation.

CTIA, the wireless trade association, declined to answer questions about its involvement in drafting the exception, saying through a spokesman only that "we are committed to working with the committee on the legislation."

The committee preparing the bill is the House Judiciary Committee, headed by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who has previously expressed support for mandatory requirements governing the retention of user data. The bill will be part of a larger measure dealing with strengthening criminal sanctions against child pornography.

A spokeswoman for Smith declined to answer questions about the legislation yesterday, saying his office would discuss it and distribute the final text only "when we are ready for introduction."

The mobile exemption represents a new twist in the debate over data retention requirements, which has been simmering since the Justice Department pushed the topic in 2005, a development that was first reported by CNET.

Proposals publicly surfaced in the U.S. Congress the following year, and President Bush's attorney general, Alberto Gonzales said it's an issue that "must be addressed." So, eventually, did FBI director Robert Mueller.

Mora @ C|Net