While the transformation from IPv4 to IPv6 has been encouraged, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies have been warning that the switch may hinder investigations by making it difficult to trace who is using which electronic address, reports CNET. FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officials are reportedly telling industry experts the importance of IPv6 traceability to trace criminals. The FBI has even gone ahead to suggest a new law, in case the private sector isn’t co-operating.

IPv6 traceability needed....

IPv6 traceability needed….

Investigations that stem up from kidnappings, terrorist attacks, and likewise have involved tracing previous-generation IPv4 addresses back to an Internet provider's customer, revealed FBI. And they are looking for a same level of traceability for IPv6, too. FBI calls it the “Going Dark” problem, which means that their surveillance capabilities may diminish as the IPv6 technology advances. “We're looking at a problem that's about to occur,” John Curran, President of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), a nonprofit group that allocates blocks of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses in North America and the Caribbean. “It occurs as service providers start to roll out V6.

Law enforcement's difficulty with IPv6 traceability has little to do with the underlying technology and a lot to do with the foibles of human bookkeeping. During an investigation, police typically look up the originating IP address in the Whois database to glean a pointer to the organization sending the problematic traffic,” says the report. The Internet service providers need to keep the ‘Whois’ entries up-to-date which helps trace the user. Accurate IPv6 record-keeping not only helps law enforcement but also combat abuse and is useful for anti-spam measures.

According to FBI, “An issue may also arise around the amount of registration information that is maintained by providers and the amount of historical logging that exists. Today there are complete registries of what IPv4 addresses are “owned” by an operator. Depending on how the IPv6 system is rolled out, that registry may or may not be sufficient for law enforcement to identify what device is accessing the Internet.” While most of the Internet providers have declined to comment on it, some are said to be drafting IPv6 transition policies.

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