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UK ISP Entanet Calls Governments Revived Internet Snooping Law Pointless

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 (7:54 am) - Score 490

Communications and networking provider Entanet has described the UK governments move to resuscitate and expand controversial internet snooping laws (data retention), which threaten to log a much bigger slice of your online activity (e.g. Skype and Facebook access etc.), as “pointless” and warned that the “true criminals will simply circumnavigate such surveillance“.

The £2bn project, which was confirmed during the Queens Speech (State Opening of Parliament) last week (full details) and is part of the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP), threatens to expand upon the existing Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). This requires broadband ISPs to maintain a log of your basic internet website and email accesses (times, dates and IP addresses [sender / recipient]) for 12 months.

Under the new Bill ISPs would need to provide real-time access to this data and expand the remit to controversially include website addresses (URLs), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), online video games (e.g. World of Warcraft chat logs), instant messaging (e.g. MSN) and internet phone services (e.g. Skype).

Neil Watson, Entanets Head of Service Operations, said:

Without the use of warrants to view this sensitive information, it’s going to be wide open to abuse. People need to be suspected before they are put under surveillance. Simply spying on everyone without a warrant or court order is not acceptable and should be a breach of people’s privacy rights.

As yet, the Government has not revealed any technical details about the plans. All that is known is that ISPs will be responsible for maintaining a local log of online activities. It has however been reported the use of black boxes or large data centres could be used to store such information, especially from third party services such as websites. What we would like to know is who will be footing the bill? In our view it should not be funded by ISPs in any way.

There is some small hope from the European Commission, who could veto the Bill because it conflicts with the existing European Law. However this is only if there are no ‘safeguards’ put in place to protect the data, although these were promised in the Queen’s speech.

It is our belief this whole Bill is pointless. The true criminals will simply circumnavigate such surveillance by using VPNs and proxy servers. Why would they incriminate themselves when they know they’re being monitored? Instead it will be the innocent general public that will take the brunt. All we can hope for is that someone will see sense before a totalitarian state such as in the classic novel by George Orwell “1984” takes hold.”

Several leading politicians, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, have already said that the new law would still require a warrant and plans for a central government database appear to have been scrapped but many remain sceptical. The proposals already look set to face stiff opposition, not least from several MP’s within the government itself, with some even pledging to kill it.

Unfortunately the government has so far only provided for a very vague outline (green paper) of the changes, which form part of the wider Draft Communications Bill. A White Paper and the Draft Bill itself are expected to appear within the next 12 months and the government hopes that the new act will ultimately be put in place by 2015 and “support the sector for the next 10 years and beyond” (Jeremy Hunt MP).

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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