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Snooping laws unachievable

High costs of data retention put pressure on ISPs

An influential group of MPs today released its report into the government's controversial plans for data retention.

Apig (the All Party Internet Group) has branded the Regulation of Investigatory Powers and Anti-terrorism Crime and Security acts 'unworkable'. The two contain legislation that requires data to be retained for up to three years for use by legal and government bodies.

The sheer cost of adhering to these laws would put many ISPs out of business, according to the Ispa (Internet Service Providers Association), whose recommendations are included throughout the report.

"The government has set aside £20m over the next three years to cover the scheme, which is nowhere near the true cost," said a spokesman at the Ispa.

"There are so many laws relating to data retention that ISPs are lost. We need to know exactly what data they will be required to keep and for how long before we can put a true price on it," he added.

ISP AOL has estimated it would cost around £25m to implement the requirements, plus a further £9m to maintain the system. It would take over 360,000 CDs to store just one year's worth of customer data.

The problem, as far as Ispa sees it, is that some ISPs still aren't certain of their obligations under the legislation.

"Our members are aware of the legislation but many aren't, which is important as it looks as though it's going to cost them a lot of money," he added.

Apig's report recommends the government follows the US example of data preservation where data is only stored in exceptional circumstance such as on the day of terrorist attacks.

The second area of controversy, which caused a backlash when announced last summer, concerns government plans to allow other bodies, such a local councils, access to stored data.

Apig is pushing forward recommendations by Ispa that only trusted parties should be given access to such information.

The report has been submitted to the Home Office, which is expected to respond in due course.

A full copy of the report can be viewed here.

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