UK parliamentary inquiry rejects data retention

By EDRi · February 12, 2003

In the UK, a parliamentary inquiry resulted in a firm rejection of governmental plans for general data retention. In one piece of proposed legislation Government expected phone companies, mobile operators and Internet service providers to voluntarily keep logging data for a period of up to 12 months. These data would reveal who has been calling and e-mailing whom, which websites they had visited, and even where people have been with their mobile phones. In their report, the All Party Internet Group (APIG) concludes that the Government had underestimated the costs of the scheme, that billing databases would migrate abroad to escape regulation and that there were few incentives for industry to help the government track technical change. To cap all this, the scheme appeared to be in breach of Human Rights legislation and despite a year of effort by the Home Office, no solution was in sight.

The evidence heard by the parliamentary inquiry made it clear that the proposed voluntary retention scheme had no hope of acceptance by industry. The report also concludes that it would be impractical to proceed with the fallback of mandatory data retention and strongly recommends that the Home Office scrap their plans altogether and start negotiations on a lower impact scheme of targeted “data preservation” instead.

The group also examined existing pieces of legislation including the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and recommended that definition of communications data be improved.

The APIG report (28.01.2003)