Industry anger at super-snoop plan

Bill Goodwin

NCISLeak: Security agencies want seven-year data storage rights

Proposals to give the intelligence and law...

Bill Goodwin

NCISLeak: Security agencies want seven-year data storage rights


Proposals to give the intelligence and law enforcement agencies access to records of all telephone calls, Internet traffic and e-mails, will undermine confidence in the UK as a centre of e-commerce, the communications industry claimed this week.

The proposals are contained in a confidential document from the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) and have the backing of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Customs & Excise, the intelligence services and GCHQ.

They call for communications companies to record and store details of all telephone, e-mail and Internet traffic for seven years in a national database for intelligence and crime detection.

The plan, written by Roger Gaspar, deputy director of NCIS, comes hot on the heels of the Government's controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. It calls for new laws to force telecommunications and Internet companies to store seven years' worth of records in-house or hand them over to a Government-run data warehouse, or trusted third party.

"Legislation should require every CSP (communication service provider) to retain all communications data originating or terminating in the UK, or routed through UK networks, including any such data that is stored offshore," Gaspar said.

NCIS's demands have prompted an angry reaction from the communications companies who claim that they not only fly in the face of human rights and data protection laws, but that they will seriously damage the UK's potential for e-commerce.

Vodafone said, "The proposals significantly under-estimate the true costs and resources needed in retaining such data. It would be extremely difficult for companies to comply with such legislation. If successful, the proposed measures would undermine confidence in the UK as a centre of e-commerce."

David Harrington, director general of the Communica-tions Managers Association, described the plan as totally "outrageous".

"It rather sounds as if someone is flying a flag to see what sort of response it will generate. I think the response is going to be a mass uproar of protest," he said.

"Apart from the practical difficulties and the costs associated with this rather silly proposal, it really raises issues of civil liberties and Big Brother. It is something which every business user of telecommunications services is going to be very upset about."

The proposals have also sparked concerns among Internet service providers, who fear the technical implications have not been properly thought through, and that they would mean significant re-engineering of their systems.

"Clearly the ISPs are very concerned about the costs and whether they will be compensated,"said Roland Perry, acting chief executive of the London Internet Exchange.


NCIS proposals - main points


  • New laws are needed to require communication service providers (CSPs) to keep records of communications data originating or passing through the UK for one year online and six years in an archive


  • CSPs given option of keeping the data in-house, outsourcing to a trusted third party, or a government-run data warehouse


  • A UK National Communications Data Warehouse would be set up for between £3m and £9m to run


  • The Home Office and the Department of Trade &Industry should begin work on a statutory framework to prevent the early destruction of data


  • The proposals are endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, Customs & Excise, Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ.



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