Feeds

Home Office defends retaining comms data

But hasn't figured out how yet

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.