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UPDATED Police Accuse UK ISPs of Charging Too Much for Data Requests

Posted: 23rd Jan, 2009 By: MarkJ
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), which is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children, has accused UK ISPs of charging too much for criminal information requests. Instead CEOP believes that requests for such data, which can include personal customer details, should be free.

It's understood that the CEOP spent £64,604 on 4,600 information requests during 2008, which we guesstimate as an average of £14 per request. It's also claimed that some ISPs even charged up to £65 a time for the data, while a few providers didn't charge at all:

CEOP Commented: "And let me put this in context: by the end of this financial year we’ll have paid more than £100,000 to ISPs to reconcile the information we need to identify and locate and rescue children, or to identify locate and hold to account those criminals who go online and threaten children and make the online environment less safe than it should be.

But child protection within the online environment is everybody’s business and we support business in the online community. What we need to make sure that they do is to recognise the benefit that we bring to them, and we shouldn’t be paying for the privilege.

The CEOP doesn't accept the argument that ISPs are commercial businesses and claims that such requests do not divert them from their core business of Internet provision. However the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) does allow providers to charge for data requests.

ISPs would of course hold that it’s money well spent and helps to make the system both fast and efficient, while also reimbursing the providers costs. Never the less we'd like to know which ISP charges £65 a pop and precisely how such a figure is arrived at.

UPDATE 1:36pm:

Entanet has offered a small response to the CEOP's findings, which highlights how they appear to be one of the ISPs that do not charge for the requests:

Entanet would like to point out that it fully supports the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s objectives and firmly believes the rights of children should be protected. Our policy has always been to co-operate with the authorities in such instances (i.e. not only CEOP) even though it incurs cost on our part in terms of time and effort. We do not charge for this.
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