UK to push for law to retain all communications data

ISPs would be required to retains data for online services they don't directly provide

The U.K. government said Monday it plans to push for a law requiring service providers such as ISPs to retain data about instant messages, e-mail and other electronic communications.

The government argues that knowing the participants, timing and method of a communication -- but not its contents -- is vital in protecting the public from serious crime and terrorism.

"It is a highly technical area and one which demands a fine balance between privacy and maintaining the capabilities of the police and security services," according to a statement attributed to David Hanson, minister of state for security, counter-terrorism, crime and policing.

“We will now work with communications service providers and others to develop these proposals and aim to introduce necessary legislation as soon as possible.”

The government formulated its position after it asked public authorities, private companies and the public for their views on how communications data should be collected, under what authority and how it should be stored.

Showing the deep concerns about privacy among the British public, some 90 respondents out of 221 did not answer the questions on the basis that they were opposed to any kind of surveillance imposed by the government.

Under the plan, the government would require service providers to retain all communications data, even that related to third-party services which are accessed using their networks.

The government says that existing European Union legislation -- the E.U. Data Retention Directive -- does not go far enough and only covers the services provided by the network provider. Under that directive, data must be retained for 12 months.

"This is a 'third-party' relationship, and the company providing the broadband access has no responsibility under the DRD to retain third-party data," according to the government's response to the consultation.

The data collected would be stored by the service providers and not in a central database. It hasn't been determined how long service providers would be required to hold the data.

Government authorities would be able to request data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, which mandates rules for accessing communications data.

It is expected service providers would have to spend as much as £2 billion (US$3.34 billion) to implement technology to comply with a new law requiring data to be retained.

"The government will work with communications service providers to develop solutions which minimize the potential disruption to their business," the government statement said.

The Labour government's data retention plan, however, could potentially be disrupted by an election. There isn't a fixed date for the next general election but it must take place before June 3, 2010, according to the Electoral Commission.

The Conservative Party is expected to pose a strong challenge to Labour, which has been in power for 13 years.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentprivacyISPwiretappingUK

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

Secure and Save before time runs out with Bitdefender Exclusive Clearance Offer! Get Bitdefender Total Security 2018 Now!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?