ISPs fly to continent to escape RIP

Suncream optional

Two more ISPs have threatened to up sticks and move their email systems overseas if the government goes ahead with its planned Web snooping plans.

London-based ClaraNet is having internal discussions to shift its server infrastructure to its Paris office. It is concerned about government access to keys, and it says if this part of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill does not change it will take legal advice on the move to France. If it transpires that its customers will not be covered by RIP if its servers are on the continent, it will re-locate.

GreenNet says it is also considering a move, but it is thinking about shifting its servers to Ireland. It says the government is destroying trust in the Net with its plans. It is able to put its servers in another country through its involvement with the Association for Progressive Communications network.

"Ireland is something that's been mentioned, it doesn't have the same restrictive laws," said Phil Carr, GreenNet user support manager. He is shocked by the Home Office's proposals regarding interception capabilities. "It's quite unprecedented that a government would want to do this kind of thing in peacetime."

Steve Rawlinson, ClaraNet systems manager, said: "We are concerned that it will affect our customers' confidence. The business customers, who have customers of their own, may move to an ISP that is not based in the UK."

The move is not a problem for ClaraNet, it has offices in France and Germany. But it could prove a costly decision for other ISPs without this offshore advantage.

"If we're thinking of moving, I'm sure a lot of other people are thinking of it too," he warned.

The comments came as the Home Office today unveiled a batch of lengthy draft codes on RIP. They say the government will only service orders to disclose decryption keys on company directors, and not on other staff as was originally planned. They also say that companies will be able to provide a text alternative.

But critics said the codes still failed to spell out the exact circumstances which would force a company to hand over keys, and that police at superintendent level would still be able to apply for communications data gathered during interception.

RIP goes to the Report Stage in the House of Lords tomorrow - where there will be 102 amendments to plough through on still unresolved legal and tehnical issues.

Last week British not-for-profit ISP Poptel also threatened to move some of its services overseas unless more changes were made to RIP. It was concerned about the practical implications of the Bill for its customers, many of which are trade unions and non-governmental organisations. ®

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