British police paid telecoms millions for customer data

Here's another interesting story related to the Snooper's Charter topic – the police paid UK's telecom companies millions to hand over their customer's data.

The Financial Times wrote in a recent report, based on the Freedom of Information request, that BT, EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media, among others, received a total of £6.7m from the UK police force last year alone, in order to give away certain data.

That data included when and where a call was held, how long it lasted and who communicated. The content of the calls remained undisclosed. The Telegraph also added that text messages were included, but its content remained secret.

The telecoms, together with some of the biggest companies in the IT industry (Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter) have opposed a draft bill nicknamed Snooper's Charter, which would give the Government more surveillance power.

Chairman of the Internet Service Providers Association, James Blessing, told the Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee the ISPs are “very concerned” about the bill.

“We are very concerned,” he said. “The whole idea of an internet connection record does not exist as far as internet service providers are concerned. We do not have an internet connection record.”

“We do not store information about what our customers do online in this particular way. It is not clear from the bill what constitutes a connection record.”

He added: “If you want to get at the URL someone is visiting, you need to open the packet, inspect it, take information out and then throw data away, which makes the whole processing of those records even more complicated and prone to mistakes.