Telcos in a flap over cybertap law


Telcos in a flap over cybertap law

Telcos' voluntary arrangements with police over cybertapping were thrown into disarray by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, a leaked police report reveals. The ACPO report to the Home Office requests a legal requirement on communications service providers (CSP) - ie telcos - to store all e-mail, phone call and Web data for seven years.

But the report, seen by Computer Weekly, reveals that telcos are already storing digital evidence for up to five years - a practice that ACPO admits will not now stand up to legal scrutiny. CSPs "until recently" were prepared to store data for longer than the recommended 12 months, says the report. "This is solely for the purpose of helping law enforcement."

The report reveals that some CSPs are already proposing to "delete data after very short periods". It warns that, without a legal requirement on all CSPs to retain data for the same period, "this will rapidly undermine agreements achieved so far which now appear to have an increasing fragility".

And the report contains evidence that police were using a blanket approach to digital evidence, which was reined in when telcos began charging for access to the stored data. The report reveals that, when CSPs began charging, there was a 36% reduction in the volume of police requests for data and a turn to a "more intelligence-led focus".

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