UK ISPs appear set to ignore a Home Office voluntary code of practice addressing retention of internet data unless big changes are made to the wording.
The code of practice lays out the obligations of ISPs under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which was rushed through parliament in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks.
It obliges ISPs to retain communications data for law enforcement purposes, but, a year since the first draft was released, the Home Office has failed to explain how ISPs will be reimbursed for retaining the data, or how they can comply with the code without breaking numerous other laws. The proposals have already been knocked back by European data protection commissioners.
In a letter to the ISP Association's members, ISPA general secretary Nicholas Lansman said he could not "recommend to members that they voluntarily comply with the proposed code of practice."
According to the letter, which was seen and first reported by The Guardian, the industry has not been convinced that extending the length of time companies hold on to customer logs was necessary for the fight against terrorism and serious crime.
ISPs say they also have many concerns about the code of practice, not least of which is the worry that by complying with it, ISPs may be forced to break other laws.
A, ISPA spokesman said: "The ACTS law and code of practice has to reconciled with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act, and the Police and Criminal Intelligence Act. ISPs need to know their legal position." ISPA is not alone is voicing such concerns. Shortly after the first draft was published last year a joint parliamentary committee warned it was likely to break European human rights legislation.
The House of Lords and House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights said the code appeared to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and said safeguards are needed to prevent the government from compiling a stockpile of communications data on innocent citizens.