‘Snoopers’ Charter’ could hit police forces with £1 billion bill

Proposals to collect the internet connection records (ICRs) of every UK citizen could cost more than £1 billion. These costs, which would fall to the Home Office, could be the equivalent cost of employing 3,000 full-time police officers at a time of officer cuts.

This estimate of the UK bill is based on the cost of a new, parallel scheme for ICR retention in Denmark, which has now been dropped on costs grounds.

Campaigners from the Don’t Spy On Us coalition are calling for the UK government to come clean on the real costs and produce an independent figure for the new retention bill.

Denmark shelves ICRs
The Danish Government recently shelved similar proposals to monitor Danish citizens’ web browsing history, after it was confirmed that it would cost DKK 1bn (approx £105 million) to implement the scheme. This figure was for equipment investment alone and did not include annual operation costs to retain the records. [1]

Ernst & Young were commissioned by the Danish government to look into industry concerns over the costs of collecting ICRs. Their findings supported industry claims.

Based on these findings, the cost of implementing ICRs in the UK could be more than a billion pounds. The UK population (64.1 million) is more than eleven times’ Denmark’s (5.6 million).

ISPs’ concerns
The Home Office has budgeted £174 million over ten years’ to reimburse Internet Service Providers for collecting, retaining and storing ICRs. Many ISPs have disputed these costs. In December, the President of BT Security, Mark Hughes told the Joint Committee into the Investigatory Powers Bill that the allocated £174 million would cover BT's costs alone. In the same session, Director of Operations at Virgin Media, Hugh Woolford, said that he expected their costs to be tens of millions of pounds. [2]

Each ISP would have to implement their own system for collecting ICRs, which are currently not generated for business purposes.


Lord Paddick, Liberal Democrat spokesman on Home Affairs in the House of Lords and former Deputy Assistant Commissioner at New Scotland Yard:

“This highly controversial plan to record everything that all of us do on the Internet was already facing serious problems.

It is unclear that it is even possible, given the quantity of data involved or how much use it would really be to the police. Sensitive personal information that could reveal everything about our lives would be vulnerable to theft by hackers, thieves, blackmailers and hostile foreign governments.

Now that we have a professional estimate that it would cost well over £1 billion in set-up costs alone and could be easily circumvented by criminals for just a few pounds a week, apart from anything else, this represents appallingly bad value for money.

Speaking as a former senior police officer, we need a much more reasonable and proportionate response and then spend the remaining money on more community policing.”

Eric King, Director of Don’t Spy on Us:

"The Government is trying to force Internet Service Providers to collect all of our internet connection records but refuses to listen when they express concerns about the cost and feasibility of their proposals. As in Denmark, the Government should commission an independent cost analysis to clarify the true cost of collecting Internet Connection Records. There is no evidence that collecting ICRs makes us safer."

Jesper Lund, chairman of IT-Political Association of Denmark: "The initial investment in the ISP industry for the Danish ICR plans would be 1 billion Danish kroner. On top of that there will be a substantial annual operation costs. The second largest cable ISP in Denmark, SE, has estimated that their annual costs for maintenance and data collection will be 25 percent of the initial investment."

Notes to editors

Average police officer pay falls between £28,000 - £31,000 with onboard costs of around 20% including pension and national insurance. The figure of 3,000 police officer jobs is equivalent to cutting 3,000 police officers earning £29,000 per annum plus onboard costs over a ten year period.


[1] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmpublic/investigatorypowers/Memo/IPB20.htm
[2] Oral evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill bit.ly/1OxpESk


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