UK companies face the prospect of all telephone, email and internet traffic being recorded and stored for seven years, under proposals contained in a confidential document from law enforcement agencies.
The document, seen by Computer Weekly, was submitted to the Home Office on 21 August, calls for all communications data passing through the network of communications service providers (mainly telcos) and ISPs to be stored for realtime access for one year and archived for a further six years. The Association of Chief Police Officers warned the Home Secretary to write to the managing directors of UK telcos advising them "of the need to retain data ann not to delet it in the meantime".
The document reveals that police chiefs initially asked for data to be retained for five years, but that the Criminal Cases Review Commission wants a longer period in order to facilitate reopening disputed court cases.
The ACPO report acknowledges that computers and mobile phones are changing the nature of evidence. "We now see records of events which were formerly the domain of eyewitness account (because someone wrote the record down) in the hands of machines."
The report rules out individual "freeze and store" orders as uneconomic.
The report considers two options for a national data storage facility: one run by the government, which raises concerns over civil liberties, or one run by contractors under a PFI scheme - which will raise the concern due to Whitehall's poor record of managing such contracts.