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MPs are to hold a public inquiry covering data retention and the Internet and its effects on ISPs.

The All Party Internet Group (APIG) will primarily focus on the enforcement of the powers contained in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and the Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act.

APIG is looking for those involved in the industry to submit written evidence to the inquiry before December 6.

Public hearings will be held in the House of Commons on the 11th and 18th December when MPs will hold oral evidence sessions with industry, Government and other interested bodies.

The group will publish a report on their findings early next year and reckon it is likely to contain a number of recommendations to Government.

Joint Chair of the All Party Internet Group, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan, said: "The raft of legislation and associated issues which communication service providers now face are daunting.

"What data should be retained, how it is accessed and retained, the cost of retention and conforming with multiple legal commitments are just some of the serious issues facing law enforcement agencies, industry and legislators alike.

In particular, the inquiry will examine:

  • The powers incorporated in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act 2000, Part I Chapter II;
  • The voluntary and compulsory data retention regimes found in Part 11 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001;
  • Other relevant legislation and European Directives such as:
    - The Data Protection Act 1998,
    - The Telecommunications Privacy Directive EU 97/66/EC,
    - The Data Retention provisions of the EU 2002/58/EC, the recently adopted "Electronic Privacy" Directive;
  • The Data Retention, Preservation and Partial Disclosure regimes in the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime;
  • The extent to which communications data is held outside the direct control of Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and how this should be addressed;
  • The value of communication data access to Law Enforcement Agencies, the types of data that are of importance and the periods for which it should be
    retained;
  • The value of access to retained data by further authorities beyond those currently authorized by the RIP Act;
  • The difficulties faced by Law Enforcement Agencies in conforming with existing legislation;
  • The mechanisms that should be put in place to allow expedited data preservation and partial disclosure of traffic data to Law Enforcement Agencies in foreign countries;
  • The costs to the CSPs of retaining communications data and in providing access to retained data;
  • Competition issues for CSPs;
  • Privacy Issues.

Written evidence should be submitted to inquiry@apig.org.uk by 6th December 2002. ®

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