UK government goes on with its plan for data retention
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UK government intends to oblige ISPs and telephone companies to keep
Internet personal data traffic for at least 12 months and local, health
authorities and lots of other public bodies are to be given access to
details of everyone’s personal Internet information.
On 15 August 2008, the Home Office published a consultation paper which
makes clear that the personal data will now be available for crime and
public order investigations and may even be used to prevent people
self-harming. Furthermore, as the measure is the result of an EU directive,
the data will be made available to public investigators across Europe.
The measure will cover VOIP as well and access to personal Internet and text
data will be available to all public bodies licensed under the 2000
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), meaning that hundreds of
public bodies including local councils, health authorities, the Health and
Safety Commission, the Food Standards Agency or Ofsted (the education
standards watchdog), may require telecom companies to hand them over the
UK government intends to go further by introducing a draft communications
bill this autumn which would require all the telecommunications companies to
hand over this data to one central “super” database. The police and other
public authorities will be able to access this database directly without
having to make a request to the company which keeps the records.
The database had been planned to be bundled with the EU Data Retention
Directive that is to be legally implemented in UK by March 2009. The
consultation paper published by the Home Office is meant to transpose the
Directive as a standalone statutory instrument. Laws made by statutory
instruments do not need a Parliament vote.
Home Office civil servants are working on plans for the central database
within the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP). The IMP budget was
part of the intelligence agencies’ undisclosed funding bid to the
Comprehensive Spending Review last year. Sources disclosed that secret
briefings gave a cost for the database that could reach nine figures.
The proposition faces opposition as many fear that a single database under
Government’s control would be vulnerable to attacks or errors that may lead
to information leaks.
Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, said the
government could not be trusted with sensitive data. “We will be told it is
for use in combating terrorism and organised crime but if Ripa powers are
anything to go by, it will soon be used to spy on ordinary people’s kids,
pets and bins” he said.
In the consultation paper, the Home Office also gave an estimation of a cost
of over 60 million euro that the storage of such an amount of Internet data
may be imposed on the Internet industry. Besides, the Home Office admitted
that the companies might have to store “a billion incidents of data exchange
a day”. The Government has already paid about 23 million euro over five
years to telecom companies for access to data about citizens’ use of phones
and the Internet.
‘Snooper’s charter’ to check texts and emails (13.08.2008)
Home Office – A consultation paper – Final phase of the transposition of
Directive 2006/24/EC (08.2008)
Government pays telcos £18.5 million for records retention (7.08.2008)
UK.gov to spend hundreds of millions on snooping silo (19.08.2008)
EDRIgram: UK Government will store all phone, Internet traffic data
EDRIgram: ICO worried about a UK Government-owned traffic data database