ISPreview - ISPs Raise Concerns Over Data Retention Proposals
ISPs Raise Concerns Over Data Retention
By: Mark Jackson - May 27th, 2008 : Page 1 -of- 3
"the government maintains that such logging is necessary for national security and to help combat online crime"

Several UK based Internet Service Providers have raised concerns about the government’s long-held plans for data retention, specifically the recently proposed 'Communications Data Bill' amendments. UK telecom operators are already required to keep phone call logs and this will soon be extended to cover Internet data too.

However, the changes, which have been expected since October last year (news) when the EU requested that they be extended from telecom operators to ISPs by 15th March 2009 (2006/24/EC), could see providers forced to log basic customer access, web and email activity on their networks for up to one year. In addition, ISPs may also be required to modify their methods for doing this so as to standardise the information:

Proposed Amendments:
  1. Modify the procedures for acquiring communications data and allow this data to be retained.
  2. Transpose EU Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of communications data into UK law.

What the ISPs say

Naturally the government maintains that such logging is necessary for national security and to help combat online crime, although many are concerned about the potential privacy infringing implications of monitoring everybody’s online activity. According to James Blessing, COO of Entanet International (www.Enta.net), ISPs are being asked to log the following:

  1. Access log for web servers (for the one we host).
  2. Access logs for dial and broadband.
  3. SMTP [outgoing email] logs.

We already store these for various reasons (billing, stats, troubleshooting) the problems come when we are expected to log all this for 12 months (we use different durations based on the size of the data) and then store it somewhere (the Hard Disk manufactures are going to love this).

The second (possibly more important) problem is that these are currently stored in a format that is suitable for our use rather than being built for the government. I would imagine all SP's record their data in their own format (which will be similar in most cases, but subtly different) and therefore IF they want it to be collated into their database its not too much of a leap to assume that they will expect the CP's to adjust their data format to their standard (which is a large amount of development work),” said James.

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