Feeds

Why will UK web supersnoop plan cost £1.8bn? That's a secret

Anyway this is gov IT, we've got no idea what it'll cost

Boost IT visibility and business value

The Home Office has refused to fully justify the £1.8bn price tag attached to its contentious draft Communications Data Bill, which if passed will massively increase online surveillance of UK citizens.

In response to a Freedom of Information request from Zoe O'Connell, who regularly blogs about the bill, the Home Office argued that it needed plenty of wiggle room with its figures: for example, the cost per megabyte to record Brits' online activities will decrease and internet traffic is soaring.

But the government department declined to produce documents used to calculate the estimated £1.8bn to build and run Home Secretary Theresa May's proposed web snooping system. Whitehall officials said showing their workings will "pose an unacceptable risk to the ability of the UK to safeguard national security" and "disclosure of this could be used to avoid detection".

However, the Home Office did reveal some more details about the business case used to "maintain capability to access communications data before and after the introduction of new legislation". More interestingly, it also made it clear that the estimated cost, which will be spread over 10 years, is highly likely to be revised:

The programme business case is currently undergoing a formal regular review which will produce revised costs and benefits.

The revised business case will inform a new Impact Assessment to be published before the Communications Data Bill is introduced formally in the House. Parliament will then have the opportunity to consider again the latest costs and benefits of the programme enabled by the Bill.

The technology delivery aspects of the programme have recently been reviewed by the Major Projects Authority in the Cabinet Office who have endorsed the Programme’s approach.

The Home Office has provided for the programme business case in its spending plans until March 2015, after which it will be subject to further scrutiny as part of the next spending review.

Many have questioned how the Home Office came up with its figures. Officials said the price tag represents "a highest cost scenario". Labour's similar shelved Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) was estimated to cost £2bn over the same period of a decade.

MPs and peers scrutinising the bill have been told Blighty's spy chiefs, who demanded new systems to snoop on internet communications in the UK, are out of touch with how quickly the tech needs to be updated.

The Home Office said in its FOI response that it was addressing this concern by saying that its planned system had "an incremental approach to developing capabilities, which takes account of changes in technology, the communications market and the investigative capabilities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies".

It also admitted on the £1.8bn price tag that it was "difficult to estimate costs with precision over the long term". ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.