Warrantless access to UK ISP customer activity records imminent
Outlaw.com, the legal guidance and news site of international law firm Pinsent Masons notes that the UK Communications Data Bill is shortly expected to pass into law. Much has been made of the requirement it imposes on ISPs to retain customer communications data – access logs but not content – for 12 months, but this merely brings ISPs into line with extant requirements already imposed on telephony providers. Indeed it is not open to UK legislators to challenge these provisions, as they are contained in the European Union Data Retention Directive.
The Home Office has not so far disclosed details of the bill's content and it is relegated to just page 52 of the government's 2008 draft legislation programme document "Preparing Britain for the Future" (PDF), but it is expected to contain a provision for warrantless access to ISP records by law enforcement. The definition of law enforcement will quite probably extend beyond police forces to encompass other regulatory bodies including enforcement departments of local authorities. Such authorisation creep has already happened in the case of RIPA. However, the government asserts that if these measures are not put in place "the ability of authorities to carry out their counter-terror, crime prevention and public safety duties and to counter these threats will be undermined".