“Snooper’s charter” will force up broadband bills, providers warn

Providers have told MPs that should to the government’s Investigatory Powers Bill - dubbed the “snooper’s charter” in the media - be passed, customers may have to pay more for broadband to cover the cost of collecting loads of extra data.

The proposed bill would force broadband providers like BT, Sky,TalkTalk and Virgin Media to keep a record of every website thatusers visit, and hold it for 12 months. If law enforcementauthorities make a request to look at a user's activities, thecompanies are expected to comply.

According to providers, the cost of implementing these plans arelikely to be far beyond the £175 million that the government'searmarked for the project. Speaking to a Commons select committee,they warned that the planned legislation doesn't account for thevast amount of data created by a normal user.

Matthew Hare, the chief executive of ultrafast providerGigaclear, said: "On a typical 1Gb connection we see over 15TB ofdata per year passing over that connection… If you say that aproportion of that is going to be the communications data, it'sgoing to be the most massive amount of data that you'd be expectedto keep in the future. The indiscriminate collection of mass datais going to have a massive cost."

James Blessing, the chair of the Internet Service Providers'Association (ISPA) warned the committee that even if the governmentpaid for the equipment, they'd still be major ongoing costs likepower and cooling. He warned that: "the ongoing costs of lookingafter the data … will have to come out of price-rises".

The other big problem, according to the providers, is that thelaw lets the authorities look at metadata, rather than content. Forexample, on a phone call, the number dialled and length of call ismetadata, while the conversation itself is content. A lot of thetime, however, it's not that easy.

Hare explained an example: "A teenager is currently playing agame using Steam, that's not a web application … and then they'rebroadcasting the game they're playing using something calledTwitch. They may well also be doing a voice call where they'reshouting at their friends, and those are all runningsimultaneously. At any one time any of those services could dropin, drop out, be replaced."

Cases like that make it very hard to separate content andmetadata, resulting in a major technical headache for the companiesthat have to comply with the new legislation.

Source: Guardian

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