Feeds

Home Office preps fudgetastic ISP data rules

Cash-strapped Whitehall gives small ISPs free pass

Boost IT visibility and business value

A Home Office official has baffled ISPs by telling them new laws will on paper require them all to retain data, but in practice some probably won't be forced to because it could cost the government too much money.

The confusing policy was detailed at the Government and Industry Forum on Technology and Law Enforcement in London on Wednesday. The annual event is closed to the media and public, but El Reg spoke to an attendee who described the presentation on the forthcoming implementation of the EU Data Retention Directive* (EUDRD) as "rambling" and "incoherent".

The government is obliged to transpose the EUDRD in UK by mid-March next year. It says that all ISPs must store data on who communicated with whom and when for up to two years. The government is committed to reimbursing ISPs for the cost of compliance with the directive, as it already does for similar data held by telecoms companies and some volunteer major ISPs to the tune of £8.3m.

The larger broadband providers typically already store the data covered by the EUDRD for billing purposes. Their extra costs will derive from servicing law enforcement requests for access. The problem, the Home Office official revealed last week, is that paying for small ISPs - who often have less sophisticated records systems by default or by design - to retain data and service law enforcement isn't seen in Whitehall as a worthwhile investment.

"But won't the law say we have to retain this data?", his audience asked. "Oh yes", our insider paraphrased the official, "but you won't have to really because we don't want to pay for it".

It's left some in the internet industry wondering if the Home Office knows what it's doing, and worrying about their potential legal exposure.

The Home Office told El Reg in a statement that there are several approaches to funding data retention under discussion as part of the ongoing consultation. "As the consultation paper and ALL subsequent discussions have made clear, it is not the government's intention to disadvantage financially any CSPs," it said.

And apparently, it is not the government's intention to have all ISPs comply with the directive either. Happily for those with too few customers to justify spending, according to the Home Office consultation paper, "the Directive makes no provisions for imposing sanctions on those public communications providers who do not comply with the requirements".

One potential way around the confusion is offered by the consultation paper: "A range of options are available which seek to capture the data required from different parts of the industry, attempting to minimise duplication whilst ensuring full coverage of communications data." So by having BT Wholesale collect the data rather than dozens of ADSL resellers, the government could save itself millions. But our source said clarity on such plans was completely absent last week.

The EUDRD consultation closes 31 October. ®

*The EUDRD had originally been scheduled for transposition as part of the forthcoming Communications Data Bill, but was spun out in order to meet the March deadline. The £12bn Interception Modernisation Programme forms part of the Communication Data Bill, which we wrote about here, here and here. It would pool all the data held by communications firms centrally.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.