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Whenever I go online and read about data retention periods specifically for IP address information like IP assignments and session history, I see data retention periods ranging from 180 days to 12 months and up to 24 months. However, I've always been confused about one specific aspect regarding this. My question is - does this data retention period occur once you've unsubscribed from their service or is it continuously being deleted while you're a subscriber? I'll lay out two scenarios for this, and for the record, I'm only referring to IP assignment and session history logs.For the jurisdiction I'm specifically referring to within the United States.

  1. While you're subscribed to a service, and lets say this service says they have a data retention period of 12 months, said service deletes your IP information from any point in time 12 months into the past, and is rolling, in that each new day information is being automatically deleted

  2. The service keeps your IP information indefinitely and only deletes these logs once you've unsubscribed from their service, which takes 12 months after the date you unsubscribed from them.

I found a great article from TorrentFreak that explains the data retention periods for most big ISPs, but I was confused a bit when I looked into some companies' privacy policies on their websites about how their data retention works.

Torrentfreak article:

https://torrentfreak.com/how-long-does-your-isp-store-ip-address-logs-120629/#:~:text=Verizon,who%20responded%20to%20our%20request.

Verizon's privacy notice:

https://www.verizon.com/about/privacy/verizon-end-user-privacy-notice

Here it mentions that they retain subscriber information for as long as they have a relationship with you after which they retain it for a certain period of time. Does this apply to all the information they collect? Does it apply to IP assignments?

I was just curious about this because I found some other ISPs other than Verizon that stated that they maintain information for as long as they do business with you, which supports scenario 2. What data are they referring to? IDK. They weren't specific and it could just be non-business related information like IP assignments that are being continuously deleted like scenario 1 while information such as regular subscriber information and billing is retained indefinitely until you unsubscribe from them like in scenario 2. If this refers to all data, then the data retention period that these companies state is pretty much useless in a privacy sense unless you unsubscribe from them.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  • ISPs have to follow the laws of the countries they operate in. If you want to know the retention period of these data, start with the laws then check if the ISP has a longer period (this is seldom true as preserving logs costs). The retention period is for the log, so it starts when the log entry is created. Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:36
  • So basically the United States doesn't have a mandatory data retention period for its ISPs. However, most ISPs have one in their privacy policy. So what you're saying is if a company says they have a date retention period, it'd be safe to say a log that was entered let's say today 4/20/2023 in the US, then that log would be deleted one year from that date? Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:45
  • You've asked a legal question (which we can't answer) and you hope that the actual deletion of the logs happens at the cusp of the legal requirement (which isn't necessary). ISPs can keep logs longer then the legal requirement to hold them ... that means that they need to keep the data for a period of time, but they could keep it much longer... No ISP is going to commit to saying "we hold X data for Y days and no longer".
    – schroeder
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:45
  • These are all questions for each ISP. There is no general answer.
    – schroeder
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:46
  • Hi, Schroeder, I guess I should make my question more specific. It was more of does the deletion process only occurs once you've unsubscribed from their service or not. I really appreciate the comments. Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:55

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