Feeds

ISPs eye role in Jacqui's mass surveillance system

As long as you're paying for it

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The trade body for ISPs has today cautiously welcomed news that the government does not plan to build a massive, centralised database of communications data, but voiced fears about the cost to its members.

ISPA was responding to the Home Office's consultation on the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), published this morning.

"In particular ISPA welcomes the decision by Government to explicitly exclude a central database as a means for storing communications data," it said in a statement.

The intelligence and security agencies had campaigned within government for a central store for communications data. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith ruled the idea out today, citing privacy concerns. Instead, the government plans to spend £2bn to have ISPs intercept and process the data, ready for investigators on demand.

Such a system will mean providers will need to hire new staff and buy new equipment. ISPA said the government had to ensure it covered the costs with public money.

"In updating the government's capabilities in the new communications environment, ISPA expects government to commit to reimbursing service providers for any extra costs of storing and retrieving data as is required under existing legislation," it said.

Arrangements already exist to reimburse ISPs for the costs of retaining communications data as ordered by the EU data retention directive, which came into force earlier this month. Under the government's IMP proposals, they would be ordered to collect, store and process much more data, including from third party services running over their networks, such as Skype and Facebook.

BT and Virgin Media, the two largest ISPs, both said they would be examining the consultation in detail before responding.

BT said: "This is a complex topic and we look forward to studying the detail of the Government's proposals and responding in due course. We will, of course, continue to adhere to whatever rules and regulations apply to us."

Virgin Media said: "As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media understands the needs of law enforcement groups, however any policy changes must not sacrifice customers' privacy."

A source said IMP has privately received a frosty reception from many in the industry, who would prefer less contact with government. In 2007 authorities made more than half a million requests for phone and internet records.

Dr Richard Clayton, a Cambridge University researcher who has followed the development of IMP closely, said despite the decision not to store communications data centrally the programme as envisaged will represent a major increase in surveillance. "The Government seems to have bottled out from proposing a central communications database, because it is easy for anyone to understand how disproportionate it would be."

"But they are still proposing to force the ISPs and phone companies to record all the details about every website visit, every instant message, every tweet and every glance at a Facebook page."

The Conservatives welcomed the decision not to build a central database. "The big problem is that the Government has built a culture of surveillance which goes far beyond counter terrorism and serious crime. Too many parts of Government have too many powers to snoop on innocent people and that's really got to change," shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said.

"It is good that the Home Secretary appears to have listened to Conservative warnings about big brother databases. Now that she has finally admitted that the public don't want their details held by the State in one place, perhaps she will look at other areas in which the government is trying to do precisely that."

The Liberal Democrats called for strong safeguards around access to the surveillance data ISPs will collect. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.