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[FYI] (Fwd) FT 25/4/2000: "Whitehall 'should pay to set up e-mail in
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Subject: FT 25/4/2000: "Whitehall 'should pay to set up e-mail intercept'"
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7C&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=IXLZHNNP94C Whitehall 'should pay to
set up e-mail intercept' By Jean Eaglesham and Carlos Grande
Published: April 25 2000 02:06GMT | Last Updated: April 25 2000
The UK government should bear the initial cost of controversial
measures requiring internet service providers to be able to intercept
e-mails, an official report has decided.
But industry experts have reacted angrily to the report's conclusion
that the running cost of interception - a minimum £9,400 a year for a
small ISP - will not impose an "onerous burden" on business.
The row adds to mounting criticism that the regulation of
investigatory powers bill - which is going through Parliament - will
undermine the government's policy of promoting Britain as an
e-commerce centre by imposing extra costs on local internet
The report, commissioned by the Home Office from e-business
consultants The Smith Group, provides the first hard data about who
should pay the bill for new powers allowing officials to bug and tap
e-mails and mobile phones.
The bill states that ISPs must have an interception capability. How
that is done and who pays for it will be decided by secondary
The report calculates that the annual costs for a medium to large ISP
range from £23,200 to £236,000 a year. For small ISPs, the range is
£9,400 to £11,800. The upfront costs of setting up the systems -
£210,000 to £500,000 - should be met by government, rather than
industry, the report states.
This conclusion will be welcomed by ISPs, who have argued the new
requirements are policing costs that should be paid for by the
taxpayer. But they will differ sharply with the report's conclusion
that the ongoing costs will not hit industry. "Another £10,000 a year
could make life very difficult for some small ISPs," said one industry
Critics claim the costs compare unfavourably with France, the US and
Irish Republic, where ISPs will not have to bear compulsory
Ecentre UK, an industry body that promotes electronic trading
standards, said the bill could, via secondary legislation, re-impose
measures and costs dropped from previous bills after much lobbying.
Alan Boxer, managing director of Ecentre UK, said that additional
costs for ISPs would lead them to conclude that the UK was not the
best place to do e-business.
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