Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/09/10/govt_net_snoopers_charter_slammed/

Govt Net Snoopers Charter slammed

Quite right, too

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Business, 10th September 1999 16:47 GMT

The IT industry has responded to Government proposals for increased Internet surveillance with a mixture of worry and irritation. The plans would mean a considerable extension of police powers in the UK, and as many as five times the current number of tapping warrants being issued. The plans, outlined in the government document 'Interception of Communications In the UK', would require ISPs to be able to intercept one telephone line in every 500 that they operate, in essence providing a back door for the government to monitor private transmissions. Malcolm Hutty, director of civil liberty group Liberty describes the proposals as 'Hideously expensive, technically unworkable, and a threat to civil liberties." Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, says in the introduction to the document that interception "..plays a crucial role in helping law enforcement agencies to combat criminal activity.." Most intercepted messages will be encrypted - at least it will be if the criminal has any sense. Decryption takes time, maybe weeks, rendering most intercepted information past its use by date. Demon Internet estimates that the infrastructure needed to fulfil the governments wishes would cost them more than one million pounds initially, and upgrades every year could be as much as 15 per cent of that again. Richard Clayton, an adviser at Demon, said: "If the government wants this information, it should pay for it." ®