Six Months

Six months. That’s how long Comcast keeps its records that allow it to track the activity of a Comcast Internet subscriber. At least that’s what Comcast’s Cable Law Enforcement Manual, which somebody liberated and got into the hands of Secrecy News, says.

  • Because Comcast’s system of allocating IP addresses uses Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), its subscribers are not assigned a single, constant or static IP address. Instead, a dynamic IP address is assigned and has the potential to change several times throughout the course of a month. As a result, it is necessary to include in all requests for information the specific date and time of incident when an IP address was alleged to have been used.
  • Comcast currently maintains its IP log files for a period of 180 days. If asked to make an identification based upon an IP address that was used more than 180 days prior to receipt of the request, Comcast will not have information to provide.

I’m still waiting to see a copy of Amway’s complaint against 30 bloggers, but I wonder if they’ve missed their opportunity to find out their identities?

And if it’s phone call data the snoops want, they can get it up to two years after the phone call.

  1. William Ockham says:

    My first take on this is that they are totally ripping off the feds. There is no way that it costs them that much money to comply.

  2. scribe says:

    interesting the amounts they charge to set up the taps and pen registers – $1k to set up, $500-750 a month thereafter.

    Pages 16 and 24 of the manual.

    No wonder the NSA wanted to split in – individualized suspicion of as many people as they seemed to be looking at likely costs more than the cost of setting up a whole parallel network, with analytical facilities….

  3. emptywheel says:

    You’re both right–the widespread suspicion of American citizens may well be very profitable indeed for the telecoms.

  4. MarkH says:

    Is there any real reason to believe the manual? What says they don’t keep the information back much further?

  5. Anonymous says:

    MarkH – The information you refer to is likely spun off to either tape or cd/dvd using an automated backup program by Comcast’s IT organization.

    In the case of tape, unless there is some legal requirement for retention (i.e. Financial orgs have to keep stuff for IRS purposes for 5-7 years), then many times the tapes are re-used for more backups and they are overwritten with the new backups.

    In the case of cd/dvd, this style of backup easily lends itself to longer-term holdovers. Most orgs don’t use rewritable cd/dvd because of relative cost, so instead use write-once cd/dvd stuff.

    Since the cd/dvd likely used is write-once, they can’t be re-used for new backups.

    The reason that this technology may stay around much longer than 6 months is a simple housekeeping problem.

    Most folks have better things to do than to head out to the off-site storage facility and sort through thousands of cd/dvd and throw the â€old†ones out. Hence they tend to build up just like dust bunnys under the furniture.

    Once in every blue moon, mgmt gets wise to the ever-increasing cost of off-site storage bills and sends some gophers out to clean up.

    But most times, mgmt just signs off the invoice and voila, multiple years of tracking information are sitting around gathering dust.

    One should read the Comcast manual with a grain of salt, and assume it speaks to a â€minimum†retention period.

  6. freepatriot says:

    I’m channeling george here:

    the telecoms can only retain data for six months, so there is a clear need to implant memory chips into the heads of every patriotic amurikan

    if we don’t get the memory chip implants we need to make amurika safe, people will die and the turrerists win

    so be a patriotic amurican and get your memory chip implant today

    /brain fart

    doesn’t sound so far-fetched anymore, does it ???

  7. Anonymous says:

    freepatriot — you don’t understand. we’ll line up to get our chips with gusto because they’ll enable the feds to return our kidnapped children, make sure we can get onto airplanes and into terrorist-threatened sporting events we want to attend, and enable employers to be sure we’re not illegal immigrants. We’ll be happy to get our chips.