ISPs slam CEOP bid to rewrite RIPA
'Money well spent'
ISPs have hit back after the boss of the UK's online child exploitation police branded the costs of accessing data on their subscribers "ridiculous".
Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, said yesterday that ISPs should waive the costs of assisting investigations when children are involved.
"Their [ISPs'] core business is the online environment, bringing customers to that environment, and where customers coming to that area commit a crime, it's ridiculous that we would have to pay to successfully investigate that," he said.
Gamble's complaint was followed up with sympathetic coverage from The Sun ("internet firms which charge for help hunting pervs") and given a mindless churn by The Telegraph.
Today, Malcolm Hutty, policy chief at Linx, an ISP cooperative defended the system, argued it has helped foster a good relationship between ISPs and police. He told The Register: "The Home Office, and indeed Mr Gamble in his role as chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers' Data Communications Group both frequently state that law enforcement gets a better and more efficient service from ISPs and telcos as a direct consequence of cost recovery. It's money well spent.
"Regular police forces investigate extremely serious crimes using communications data, including murder, rape and kidnapping, and they believe they are better served by cost recovery. We don't believe that the situation becomes different for child abuse cases merely because they are investigated by a specialist national unit."
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) entitles ISPs to charge police reasonable costs for data retrieval. The government meanwhile has paid ISPs and telcos £19m in the last four years to pay for its agencies' growing demands for access to communications data.
Gamble made his comments on the back of a BBC freedom of information request that revealed since its foundation in 2006, CEOP has paid more than £170,000 for 9,400 requests for information from ISPs. The BBC reported some ISPs "demand as much as £65 a time" for the service, without noting that the figures it obtained show the average cost is closer to £18.
According to CEOP's figures, those 9,400 requests have helped in 297 arrests (there's no figure on how many convictions). According to Register sources, CEOP is the largest source of law enforcement information requests received by ISPs, beating anti-fraud and anti-terror agencies.
CEOP however also issued a press release about the freedom of information request, to back its chief executive's lobbying. It shows child protection officers' demands for ISP data rising rapidly.
Hutty said RIPA's provision allowing ISPs to recover costs had been vital in ensuring they are able to work with police effectively. He said: "We strongly reject any suggestion that ISPs are causing the problem of child abuse. On the contrary, ISPs actively support law enforcement action to protect children, which is made possible by the cost recovery scheme."
ISPA, the internet providers' trade association, also criticised Gamble's position today. Its chief executive Nicholas Lansman said: "ISPs are a business, and reimbursement for the costs incurred in assisting law enforcement is fair and necessary."
ISPA said law enforcement agencies agreed to the system of reimbursement when RIPA was drafted. ®
@Just over 3%
Well, now, if they had put in a request for info and the subject had later been arrested they would have listed this in the 297 to make themselves seem effective. It only says 'helped in' not resulted in and as Columbo likes to remind people, it's a process of elimination, a negative response is still helping.
The correct figure is probably less than 1% but then people would get downsized in a recession.
It is very rich......
of Gamble, a member of the Police ,a body most renowned for wasting millions of taxpayers money using American Express cards that Ian Bliar gave them ,who are paid massive wages and pensions ,to say that the ISP's should work for free because children are involved. In that case Gamble you are a HYPROCRITE because you run your car on the backs of abused children, you EAT off the back of abused children , you play golf all day off the backs of abused children, so why Mr Gamble do you now instead work for FREE as well ?. The reason is because you ,like the
rest of your organisation, and all of Labour Govt think you are better than everyone else and more deserving. Sorry Gamble but you are NOT.
Just Jim Rattling The Tin (again)...
Of course, if Mr Gamble and his cohorts felt they actually had a suspect (or, in Mr Gamble's parlance a 'predator' - a word he seems very, very fond of using at every available opportunity) worth pursuing one would imagine, given that CEOP are part of - and very much empowered as - the Police Force, he could just apply for a warrant and do things the usual way. Why on earth are they 'investigating' these things with requests for infomation from ISPs? Surely he and his friends aren't engaging in speculative 'fishing trips'..?
Gamble and Co are looking for their next round of funding about now. CEOP is a public-private concern (Mr Gamble being it's CEO) and whilst it gets very generous public handouts from a wholly uncritical government on behalf of taxpayers who have no say whatsoever, it also relies on private funding. I think last year's annual budget ran to around £5million+. I'm not sure what proportion of that was private industry money (oh yes, Microsoft are very close to Mr Gamble - ever wonder what all those automatic updates do?), but one can safely assume that this is nothing more than Mr Gamble banging the drum, rattling the tin and getting himself some precious air time from those ever-hospitable jobsworths over at the Beeb.