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Lords Question Governments Internet Data Retention Plans

Posted: 02nd Jul, 2008 By: MarkJ
The House of Lords has questioned how the government intends to make it law for UK ISPs to track and store their customers online activity for up to two years (data retention), which is an important part of the 'Communications Data Bill'.

Legal, technical and cost issues have dogged the government’s plans for some years now, yet the lengthy passage of time has so far failed to yield clarity on a number of issues. Richard Clayton, a Cambridge University security expert, explains it best:

"Let's be clear; the directive is extremely vague," said Clayton. "It's an interesting question about how expensive it might be. It completely depends what is proposed. For example, 80% of email is spam. If that is rejected by the server, do you still need to record the source and destination?"

Clayton said that the retention equipment would need "to be resilient to survive individual disc failures, the equipment has to last, and it would be nice if it didn't consume too much power." He added that storage would also have to be state-of-the-art. "Don't get carried away by cheap storage," said Clayton. "If the disc fails, you could get prosecuted."

ZDNet reports that the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA) is still awaiting further information on the subject, while the Home Office declined to comment. We recently did an article on the subject too, which included feedback from several UK ISPs:

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/articles/08privacy/
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