Feeds

Home Office defends retaining comms data

But hasn't figured out how yet

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Home Office has said that ministers have not yet decided how to retain data on all communications - but defended the importance of doing so.

Several press reports have said that the government will build a single database to hold everyone's communications data, collected from all service providers – adding that this would cost £12bn. These added that GCHQ, the government's surveillance body, has been granted £1bn to build a pilot of this database under the Interception Modernisation Programme.

Communications data does not include the contents of a call, email or webpage, but can often be as revealing. For telephony, it includes numbers called, the name and address of the caller and the IMEI number and approximate location of a mobile phone, while for internet services it includes internet protocol addresses, service and, if appropriate, telephone line used.

The Home Office said the means are still under consideration, but that the aim of collecting all communications data is justified, calling it "a vital investigative and evidential tool" for law enforcement. It is also required of the UK under a European directive, and a bill is expected in the Queen's speech.

"At the moment, the police can get critical information from communications service providers such as telephone companies to help them solve crimes," said a spokesperson. "This information is used in order to prevent and detect crime on a day-to-day basis – including serious crimes and terrorism.

"However, developments in technology mean that this capacity needs to be updated. Ministers and officials are considering how best to do this and what legislation is needed to ensure adequate safeguards are put in place to protect the privacy of the public."

Privacy advocates argue that a single database would allow trawling and profiling of the entire population, while leavng the data with service providers would ensure it would only be retrieved for those who are under suspicion.

A Home Office consultation document on implementing the directive recommends minimising the duplicated storage of data – such as by excusing a reseller of services from holding data if it is kept by the actual provider – while ensuring that all kinds of this data are collected by insisting that internet communications data is retained.

It says such an approach would cost £30.4m in capital costs and £16.2m over eight years in running costs.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.