It is almost impossible to not draw comparisons with the card index systems, and survelliance society that was a reality in East Germany, and new plans to monitor who we communicate with in the online world. What is surprising is the £1.8 billion estimated cost for carrying out this new level of monitoring which is likely to involve the 12 largest providers. The Government appears concerned so much with criminal activity online, that it is willing to spend four times as much as will be invested via the BDUK/local authority projects. The cost is justified apparently as the benefits are likely to be estimated at £5bn to £6.2bn, though exactly how one estimates the benefit financially of protecting children online is difficult, reading the draft bill itself gives a good clue, taxation is mentioned an awful lot, as in chasing those who evade it.
The new plan is an extension of RIPA, but the new data sources, which are likely to cover areas such as websites visited (but not full URL's), who we talk to on social networks, play online games with and send emails to. The aim it seems to allow the intelligence services, police, HM Revenue and Customs and SOCA will have access to the contact logs which will have to be retained for twelve months, with greater detail available via a warrant.
It is the need to delve deeper into the packet data to go beyond source and destination IP address, to create the logs that authorised authorities will be able to apply for via the courts for access that will represent most of the effort in the technical implemenation. The reason being that it may require social network operators such as twitter to reveal information about their communication protocols and encryption that helps to keep users personal data secure.
"Whilst we appreciate that technological developments mean that Government is looking again at its communications data capabilities, it is important that powers are clear and contain sufficient safeguards.
We welcome the additional scrutiny the Bill will face in parliament and we will be seeking to address our key points during this process. ISPA will be working closely with its members over the coming months to ensure that the full breadth and range of industry is heard. We want to ensure that the proposals are clear, proportionate and fit for purpose."Statement from Internet Services Providers' Association
For those who pay all their taxes on time, don't talk to terrorists and are not engaged in other serious crime, then there will be little to worry about, and while those questioning the proposed bill are being labelled conspiracy theorists, given other nations past experience with survelliance reliant policy suggest a strong degree of concern is healthy.
While the full-time criminal will simply learn how to evade capture, just as over the years burglars have largely learnt to wear gloves, there is a danger that some totally legal businesses may decide to not use the UK as their operational base, costing the UK money and jobs.