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Ministerial no-show at IMP hearing

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No minister will show tomorrow to face legal, ethical and technical questions from MPs and peers on government plans to massively increase surveillance of the internet.

The new All Party Parliamentary Group on Privacy will hold its first hearing on Wednesday on the Interception Modernisation Programme, a multi-billion-pound plan to store details of every VoIP call, email, web browsing session and more.

Lord West, the security minister, holds responsibility for IMP, but will not attend the hearing.

Instead the Home Office plans to dispatch civil servant Tim Hayward, a former Vodafone executive-turned-director of IMP, and Jim Gamble, the combative chief of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

Gamble's intervention is likely to raise eyebrows among ISPs and mobile operators, who are known to have serious concerns about the financial strain IMP could place on them. He has been a strong critic of the current communications data regime, which allows providers to recover costs.

Under the government's estimates for IMP, taxpayers will pay providers £2bn over ten years to store and process details of who contacts whom online, when where and how. ISPs have already questioned the lack of detail in the cost proposals.

As well as the government view, the All Party Group will hear presentations from academics Dr Richard Clayton and Professor Peter Sommer, and get an industry perspective from T-Mobile data protection executive Martin Hoskins.

Details of the hearing are here. ®

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