UK phone records to be kept for a year

But internet activity let off the hook


UK telecoms companies will have to keep phone call logs for a year under a new law, which comes into force in October.

The law does not apply to records of internet activity, such as web surfing, email, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls.

The Data Retention (EC) Regulations (draft; the final Regulations were unavailable at time of writing) were approved by the House of Lords on Tuesday and signed into law by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on Wednesday. The regulations transpose into UK law most of the European Union's Data Retention Directive.

The new law is intended to ensure that security services have a reliable log of mobile and fixed-line phone calls to be used in investigations, and relates not to the content of calls but only to records of their occurrence.

Though all telecoms firms keep data for a period, the regulations are designed to ensure a uniform approach across the industry.

"Communications data, such as mobile phone billing data, have a proven track record in supporting law enforcement and intelligence agency investigations and are a vital investigative tool," said Lord Bassam of Brighton, who proposed the adoption of the Regulations this week in the House of Lords.

"They provide evidence of associations between individuals and can place them in a particular location. They also provide evidence of innocence."

"Without this data, the ability of the police and the Security Service painstakingly to investigate the associations between those involved in terrorist attacks and those who may have directed or financed their activity would be limited," said Bassam.

"The police and the Security Service's ability to investigate terrorist plots and serious crime must not be allowed to depend on the business practice that happens to be employed by the public communications provider that a particular suspect, victim or witness used. These draft regulations will ensure that, regardless of which public communication provider supplies the service, the communications data will be available."

The regulations will come into force on 1 October, two weeks after the deadline set by the EU, but they will not apply to internet traffic data.

The Home Office conducted a consultation on the regulations with the public and industry and said the telecoms industry told it that the collection of internet data was too complicated to be include in the current rules.

In fact, the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) told the Home Office it believed the current regulations could never be used for ordering the retention of internet data.

"Many respondents felt that the complexity surrounding the internet make the draft regulations an inappropriate framework for implementation of the internet aspects as this would present particular technical and resourcing issues," said a Government response to the public consultation. "The Internet Service Provider Association (ISPA) commented that 'the draft regulations as they stand would not enable implementation of the internet aspects of the Directive'."

"The respondents cited specific examples such as the increased difficulties in replicating the 'end to end' picture of communications data, the difference in the cost profile for storage and retrieval of Internet communications and the need for a strong business case, if the retention period for IP data is set at 12 months."

The directive allows member states to extend the rules to internet data at a later date, provided these rules are in force by 15 March 2009.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.


Keep Reading

Poor, poor mobile networks. UK's comms watchdog plans to stop 'em selling locked-down handsets

First OTT apps nick their SMS revenue, now this...

UK regulator Ofcom to ban carriers from selling locked handsets to make dumping clingy networks even easier

First you could break up by text – next year you can take the phone with you

Better late than never... Google Chrome to kill off 'tiny' number of mobile web ads that gobble battery, CPU power

Could have done with this years ago to stave off rise of advert blockers but fine, OK, whatever, now it's coming

Microsoft buys Affirmed Networks to provide cloudy services for 5G network operators

Vodafone, Orange, AT&T, and Softbank are already users, will soon have Azure option

UK smacks Huawei with banhammer: Buying firm's 5G gear illegal from year's end, mobile networks ordered to rip out all next-gen kit by 2027

Country to be hit with £2bn cost, massive tech delay after firm 'materially compromised' by latest US sanctions

Google emits Network Intelligence Center to help untangle misconfigured cloud networks

Connectivity tests check config but do *not* actually test connectivity

Readers of a certain age will remember GPRS: Old insecure tech from turn of millennium still haunts 5G networks

Positive Technologies analysts less than positive about GTP

USA decides to cleanse local networks of anything Chinese under new five-point national data security plan

‘Clean Network’ initiative bans use of Chinese clouds, names Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent as compromised

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020