UK Government Drops Plans For Web, Phone and Email Monitoring

Offering a bit of relief to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the UK government has announced that it has abandoned the proposed plan to create a centralised database comprising records of all UK telephone calls, emails and web traffic.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith eventually decided to drop the controversial plan amid widespread disagreement over it. Instead, telecom companies and ISPs will be directed to keep their users’ telephone and web activity records for government use.

However, building infrastructure to introduce the new proposed surveillance system would cost up to a whopping £2 billion.

The notion of centralised database was originally mooted as a part of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) intended to evaluate the measures to maintain data communications’ capability of the country, primarily in the wake of dynamic technological environment.

Introducing new system would require ISPs to employ new staff and purchase new equipments, and hence, ISPA noted that the government had to ensure that it would reimburse the costs of employing these changes.

Along the same line, ISPA said, “In updating the government's capabilities in the new communications environment, ISPA expects government to commit to reimbursing service providers for any extra costs of storing and retrieving data as is required under existing legislation”.

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Our Comments

The government is probably giving up on this mother of all databases almost certainly because of the price. £2 billion is a steep price to start up with and with most public IT projects, this one is likely to cost much more (probably around £5 billion) and take twice the amount of time budgeted to be completed. And in the current economic condition, this is certainly not something they need. Maybe they should buy Phorm.

Related Links

British government backs down over database plan

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Britain changes spy database plan

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ISPs eye role in Jacqui's mass surveillance system

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National database dropped but all our communications will still be monitored

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Government rules out national communications database

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Home Office rules out telephone surveillance database

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