THREE CIVIL LIBERTIES GROUPS have published an open letter to the UK's big ISPs that asks them to "stand up for their customers" in the face of the snoopers' charter.
The snoopers' charter, or Communications Data Bill, concerns the organisations because of its likely impact on the civil rights and privacy of UK citizens.
In the letter, Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch and Sam Smith, technologist at Privacy International ask internet service providers (ISPs) Virgin Media, Sky, Talktalk, BT, Royal Mail, O2 and Zen Internet to take a stand against a law that crosses a line.
"It has become clear that a critical component of the Communications Data Bill is that UK communication service providers will be required by law to create data they currently do not have any business purpose for, and store it for a period of 12 months," says the letter.
"Plainly, this crosses a line no democratic country has yet crossed - paying private companies to record what their customers are doing solely for the purposes of the state."
The letter warns the bosses at the ISPs that they are at risk of alienating their customers by apparently supporting a bad and secretive piece of legislation.
"These proposals are not fit for purpose, which possibly explains why the Home Office is so keen to ensure they are not aired publicly. There has been no public consultation, while on none of your websites is there any reference to these discussions. Meetings have been held behind closed doors as policy has been developed in secret, seemingly the same policy formulated several years ago despite widespread warnings from technical experts," it adds.
"That your businesses appear willing to be co-opted as an arm of the state to monitor every single one of your customers is a dangerous step, exacerbated by your silence. Sadly, your customers have not had the opportunity to comment on these proposals. Indeed, were it not for civil society groups and the media, they would have no idea such a policy was being considered."
The letter adds that any support is a "betrayal of your customers' interests", and urges the ISPs to withdraw from any part that they are playing in the process.
Talktalk told us in a statement that it was "incorrect" to accuse ISPs of being part of a government conspiracy, adding that it has "emphasised" the need for consultation.
"Any issues with the Government process for comment or consultation is a matter for Government and should be taken up with them. Frankly it is wholly incorrect to suggest that ISPs are in a conspiracy with the Home Office," said a Talktalk spokesperson.
"We have engaged with Government in the process so they can understand the practical implications of their proposals. We have always emphasised the need for consultation, the importance of protecting customer's privacy and that we would only ever act in response to legislation."
According to a statement from the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA UK), a group acting as a spokesperson for the UK industry, the preferred solution is for a bill that is fair and workable.
"ISPs have been open in their approach, with a number of ISPs and ISPA giving evidence publicly to the Joint Committee that criticised the draft bill. It is for the government to publish its proposals, and when it does, we will examine the new draft bill closely alongside our members, parliamentarians and other stakeholders as part of the open parliamentary scrutiny the bill will receive," it said.
"ISPA members recognise the needs of law enforcement, however want to see a bill that is workable and proportionate and takes into account the recommendations of the joint committee." µ
So that's why she's smiling…
How many Zuckbucks to the pound?
Alexa, is this exploitation?