ISPs snub snooping powers

Plans by the Government to give police and intelligence agencies powers to access details of the public's Web and e-mail use have...

Plans by the Government to give police and intelligence agencies powers to access details of the public's Web and e-mail use have been thrown into disarray, after Internet service providers rejected Home Office proposals.

The Internet Service Providers Association has written to government officials to raise deep concerns about the cost of the proposals, which require service providers to keep historical records of Internet traffic, and their impact on privacy.

In the letter, Nick Lansman, secretary general of the organisation, cast doubt on the legality of the proposed measures and accused the Government of failing to make a compelling case for the need for data retention.

A paper produced by law enforcement agencies to support the proposals failed to say how many investigations are compromised through lack of available telephone and Internet data, and made no assessment of the impact on national security.

The move will leave home secretary David Blunkett with the difficult choice of either dropping the measures altogether or introducing legislation to force service providers to retain and disclose data.

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