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By: MarkJ - 21 July, 2011 (8:52 AM)
isp entanet broadband ukCommunications and networking provider Entanet has today "raised concerns over the feasibility", security and cost of the UK governments plan to expand its existing internet snooping data retention laws to potentially cover more than just your basic email and website access logs.

At present a voluntary code already requires Internet Service Providers (ISP) to maintain a basic log of their customers email and website accesses, but not the content of your communications, for a period of between 6 and 12 months.

The UK is still working to introduce this and may now even expand such powers under its controversial £2 Billion Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP), which use to be called the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) before it was renamed as part of a new counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST).

Entanet’s Head of Marketing, Darren Farnden, said:

"The idea of the IMP/CCDP is to collect and store all electronic communications including emails, social networking sites, website browsing histories and phone calls to help the police and, more likely, GCHQ fight cybercrime and terrorism. The problem with the IMP/CCDP is not only the huge privacy issues that it throws up but also the immense technical challenges.

[We are concerned about] the feasibility of communications providers such as Entanet being required to collect and store this immense amount of data. We also raised concerns over the security of this data and how the government expects to protect it from potential hackers. Let’s face it, the Government doesn’t have the best track record in this area. We have had everything from lost laptops to website hacks in the past. Our views haven’t changed."

The move appears to run contrary to the coalition governments own May 2010 commitment to "end the storage of internet and email records without good reason". The European Commission (EC) has also begun to question related rules and at least one report has suggested that such measures could even be "illegal". None of this seems to concern the current UK government.

Home Office Position on Communications Data

The UK communications market is one of the most highly competitive and technologically driven in the world. This means we now have access to many new forms of internet based communications, such as social networking sites, online role-playing games and instant messaging.

Criminals use new technology to communicate with each other and to target their victims. The police need to keep up with modern communication methods to be able to investigate serious crime. This is essential in protecting public safety.

Much of our current capability is based on an era of fixed and mobile telephones and was not designed to deal with the growth in the use of the internet. With internet service providers often based abroad, and fewer communications being itemised for billing purposes, investigative capability is declining.

The Communications Capabilities Development programme was set up to look at how we can preserve communications capabilities to protect the public in the future, as internet-based communications technology becomes increasingly popular. We will legislate to ensure this is compatible with the government's approach to civil liberties and use of communications capabilities.

Crucially the government claims that this new approach is "not about developing new, more intrusive powers", although few appear to see it that way. It's also important to stress that the government has yet to outline precisely what CCDP will mean for ISPs. The current documents contain no firm details, although new legislation is expected to be announced "in due course".
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