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UK e-mail law ‘attack on rights’
By Angus Crawford
Service providers will have to store information for 12 months
Rules forcing internet companies to keep details of every e-mail sent in the UK are a waste of money and an attack on civil liberties, critics say.
From March all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will by law have to keep information about every e-mail sent or received in the UK for a year.
The government will pay the ISPs more than £25m to ensure work runs smoothly.
The Earl of Northesk, a Conservative peer on the House of Lords science and technology committee, said it meant anyone’s movements could be traced 24 hours a day.
“This degree of storage is equivalent to having access to every second, every minute, every hour of your life,” he said.
Implementing the EC directive will enable UK law enforcement to benefit fully from historical communications data
“People have to worry about the scale, the virtuality of your life being exposed to round about 500 public authorities.
“Under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, privacy is a fundamental right… it is important to protect the principle of privacy because once you’ve lost it it’s very difficult to recover.”
The Home Office said the data was a vital tool for investigation and intelligence gathering.
“It will allow investigators to identify suspects, examine their contacts, establish relationships between conspirators and place them in a specific location at a certain time.
“Implementing the EC directive will enable UK law enforcement to benefit fully from historical communications data in increasingly complex investigations and will enhance our national security.”
Reports have suggested the government has even bigger plans for data retention.
They could involve one central database, gathering details on every text sent, e-mail sent, phone call made and website visited.
Consultation on the plans is due to open later this year.
Full story BBC