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Governments UK Broadband ISP Snooping Plans Branded Unworkable

Posted: 18th Jun, 2009 By: MarkJ
The governments Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), which is part of the wider Communications Data Bill and will see all YOUR email accesses and website visits (not content) stored for a period of one year, has been criticised by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The LSE warned that the governments plan contained "serious flaws" and couldn't "work in [ITS] present form".

The LSE, which examined a consultation document released by the government in April, warns that the proposals can only work if entirely new laws are passed by Parliament and if the public can be persuaded that the threats from terrorism and crime are so extensive as to justify more personal intrusion and cost. Recent estimates put the cost at a staggering £2bn over a 10-year period (original news).

Professor Peter Sommer of the Information Systems and Innovation Group at LSE says:
"The Home Office are right to be concerned about the impact on investigations of the ways in which criminals and others may use the internet. However they are wrong to think that this can be done by light tinkering with existing legislation.

But with internet technology you have to collect everything and then throw away what the law does not allow you to have or use. We think that at a practical level the communications data/intercept distinction will be impossible to intercept both for ISPs and the courts. Moreover the existing balance of protections against abuse will also be lost.

We are also concerned that the Home Office is characterising its aims as maintaining an interception capability when police powers and capabilities to watch the public have increased significantly over the last 15 years. We need a full debate about the balance between threats to public safety, police powers, the effectiveness of safeguards and cost."

The LSE also echo’s concerns at how the touted £2bn price tag was reached; to date the government has provided no indication for this. There are also fears that the added burden on ISPs, many of which are busy straining to keep up with next generation broadband demands and new infrastructure, could damage the market.
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