Internet service providers have attacked the Government over its assumption that they will go along with interception proposals in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill.
In a strongly worded letter to e-envoy Alex Allan, Nicholas Lansmann of the Internet Serviced Providers Association (ISPA) and Keith Mitchell of the London Internet Exchange (Linx) warned that the Government was jeopardising the UK's e-commerce effort.
The ISPs were responding to a letter from Allan to the UKcrypto newsgroup in which the envoy suggested that most ISPs were "reasonably confident that their businesses will not be adversely affected by the proposals in the Bill".
In their letter to Allan, the ISPs hit back. "Informal discussions with the Home Office have led us to believe that it might be under the misconception that ISPs are content with RIP. This is not the case," it said.
Lansmann and Mitchell added, "When we consulted the ISPA and Linx members, their statements have been uniformly negative, and nearly all Internet traffic in the UK is carried by Linx and ISPA members."
The letter, which was copied to Home Office minister Charles Clarke, continued, "During our discussions with the Home Office, no government representative, nor the text of the Bill, has given any commitments to ISPs that they will not have to bear the entire cost of interception."
ISPs believe that they will be incurring costs not only in operating interceptions from day to day, but also in maintaining interception equipment, purchasing capital equipment and, worst of all, having to provide human resources to build and deploy the equipment.
The ISPs also said there would be an "opportunity cost" in having to use skilled staff - of which there is a significant shortfall - to provide interception capability rather than furthering their core business.
Lansmann and Mitchell warned that the fears voiced by ISPs "would not be fully assuaged until a great deal more detail emerges about what the requirements for interception will be".