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UK ISP Entanet Tells GCHQ – “We are NOT the police or intelligence services”

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 (2:30 am) - Score 825
entanet uk

Networking and broadband provider Entanet has criticised the new boss of the Government’s Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Robert Hannigan, after he called for a new “deal” between the technology industry and intelligence organisations to help snoop on UK Internet and telephone communications

Hannigan recently suggested that the new deal would be about “protecting our citizens” against crime and terrorism, which he felt is an area that many such firms were still in “denial” about (i.e. their services being used for illegal activity). On the other hand cars and homes can also be used for illegal activity, but we don’t stick a Government run CCTV camera inside all of those either.

Naturally ISPs and Internet content firms from across the industry have already rejected the idea. “Any obligations placed upon technology companies must be based upon a clear and transparent legal framework and effective oversight rather than, as suggested, a deal between the industry and government,” said Julian David, CEO of TechUK and representing 860 technology companies.

The ISPA also echoed Julian’s position and said that the “Government have to be more open and transparent about existing capabilities” and that the case for greater powers would need to be made “thorough consultation and legislative proposals“, which would have to be put before Parliament.

Paul Heritage-Redpath, Entanet’s Product Manager, said:

We understand and appreciate that criminals and terrorists are communicating and conducting more and more of their ‘business’ online and the Police and intelligence organisations need to work with the industry to investigate this. However, ISPs and technology firms are NOT the police and DO NOT and SHOULD NOT have the power to ‘police’ the Internet and their customer’s private communications. That is why we have the RIPA process which provides ISPs et al with a court order requesting the information required for such investigations.

We completely agree that ISPs and technology companies should (and most do) fully comply with all legal investigations but when did WE acquire the power to decide what should and should not be ‘investigated’- I repeat… We are NOT the police or intelligence services! To suggest a ‘deal’ seems underhand and naive to say the least- especially after the Snowden revelations. Customers are more concerned over their privacy than ever before and the industry quite rightly has argued to protect that privacy and place the role of ‘investigator’ firmly in the hands of the courts who are equipped to make such important decisions.”

The Government was recently forced to hurriedly resuscitate the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA) act after a decision by the by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) invalidated some of the underlying laws, due largely to a clash with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights (here). In response the Government redrafted a temporary law, with a few controversial additions, and called it the Data Retention and Investigation Powers Act (DRIP).

The emergency legislation is eventually expected to be replaced by an entirely new act (around the end of 2016), which many fear will result in a third attempt to revives the controversial Internet snooping bill that could give the security services and some senior politicians (Home Secretary) access to much more of your everyday Internet access and telephone traffic/logs (this would not include the content of your communication).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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3 Responses
  1. dragoneast

    This slanging match between Government agents and the industry is getting very tiresome. Data harvesting is an epidemic, and they’re all at it. The law might nibble at the edges from time to time; but we all play the game when it suits us and know the internet is, effectively, unregulated. That’s the point.

    • Bob2002

      In some sense they might be “all” at it but I don’t recall a company spying on 1.8 private Yahoo webcam sessions – with no prior evidence of wrongdoing. That kind of behaviour deserves a prison sentence.

      The difference between the intelligence services and the rest of us is they operate in the shadows and deliberately commit actions that are either on the edge of illegality or are actually illegal. That is why special attention needs to be paid to them to stop the lunatics running the asylum.

  2. Bob2002

    *
    > spying on 1.8 private Yahoo

    1.8 million over a single 6 month period.

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