UK government forces ISPs to keep email records

With what is being considered yet another attack on the right to privacy, all ISPs in the UK will be obliged to store information about emails, including spam, that people in the country receive and send.

The UK government already makes telephone companies maintain databases of all fixed and mobile calls, and now the information stored will include a timestamp and to/from details of each email. We reported on the UKs "spy database" in August last year, ISPs will be obliged to store the information from March onwards.

The reason? The Home Office believes such measures will help combat terrorism.

The monetary cost? In order to ensure compliance, ISPs will have to be paid, and the cost to taxpayers will top £25 million--money that University of Cambridge security expert Dr Richard Clayton believes could be better spent.

The cost in terms of liberty? Many argue that this will mean that people will be made to yield their right to privacy in one more area of their lives. David Carnegie, The Earl of Northesk and a Conservative peer, explains, "This degree of storage is equivalent to having access to every second, every minute, every hour of your life. 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."

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