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Broadband ISPs Warn UK Internet Snooping Law to Push Up Prices

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 (2:17 pm) - Score 763
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The Government has budgeted around £175 million+ over 10 years to cover the cost of storing everyone’s Internet records as part of their controversial new Investigatory Powers Bill (details), but MPs have been warned by ISPs that this might not even come close to covering the actual costs.

At this point it’s perhaps worth remembering that the cost of implementing the previous attempt at a similar law (Comms Data Bill) was placed at a little under the £2 billion mark and much of that related to the relevant data retention aspect, thus quite where the figure of £175m+ has been plucked from we do not know (*looks for pies in the sky*).

Furthermore most consumer broadband ISPs exist in an aggressively competitive industry where low prices and thus profit margins are the order of the day, which is only sustainable provided those providers are able to keep their administrative, legal and other overheads to a minimum.

Obviously this might prove rather difficult with the new bill, which is exactly what the UK Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has just been telling MPs at a related Commons Select Committee event. The level of price sensitivity means that any noticeable changes will undoubtedly impact consumers and that can also have social consequences, particularly for those on low incomes.

James Blessing, Chair of the UK ISPA, said (Guardian):

The indiscriminate collection of mass data is going to have a massive cost. The bill appears to be limiting the amount of funds available to a figure that we don’t recognise would be suitable for the entire industry to do it. The ongoing costs of looking after the data … will have to come out of price-rises.”

Blessing was also asked by Labour’s Jim Dowd MP whether the proposals were feasible, to which he responded: “very feasible – with an infinite budget.” Indeed cost is likely to be a major factor in all this and is often a key stumbling block, not least because Government politicians frequently fail to understand how such networks work in the first place.

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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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