People Noticing That New UK Email Retention Laws Might Violate Privacy Rights

from the you-think? dept

There’s been an ongoing push around the world by law enforcement to require ISPs retain certain types of data, in case it comes in handy later for criminal investigations. Of course, these demands come from the wishful thinking department. The cost associated with such data retention is tremendous, and all it does is create a huge mass of data — often making it more difficult to find the useful information. In the UK, they’ve put in place new data retention laws that will require ISPs to retain records on every email sent or received in the UK for a year. It’s not the contents of the email — but just the data on that email. That, alone, though, seems like a pretty big violation of privacy, and people are starting to point that out.

The problem is this fanciful wish by law enforcement types, that actually is quite similar to the ideas among some marketing/advertising folks, that if they could just access all this data, life would be so easy. They’re wrong, of course, but even if it were true, the reason we believe in privacy and rights of individuals is that it’s an important part of a free society. Law enforcement isn’t supposed to be easy in a free society. If the goal of society was to make law enforcement’s life easy, we’d get rid of all privacy rights entirely. The excuse that this is somehow “necessary” for law enforcement to do their job is a lie. It may mean they have to investigate crimes in different ways, but no blanket removal of privacy is ever “necessary.”

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Comments on “People Noticing That New UK Email Retention Laws Might Violate Privacy Rights”

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SpecialEd says:


The way email works, it is sent unencrypted. It is sent in the open, like a post card or shouting to someone in the park.

I can’t agree with forcing ISPs to retain all email, but I could see law enforcement putting in snoopers to copy unencrypted traffic for later use.

Don’t like it? Use encrypted email or web-based messaging systems.

Carl Barron (user link) says:

?Excessive Government Snooping?

A simple answer to this problem would be for the ISP companies to Bill the Government for additional work. That might well halt this infringement of privacy in its tracks.

Businesses will be in serious jeopardy as to leaks regarding intended contracts etc.

Carl Barron
Chairman of agpcuk
Action Group for the Protection of Communities UK

Rick (profile) says:

technical workaround

There is a technical workaround to this kind of government surveillance. Use encrypted links to an overseas mail server. I use such a system now. Sub Rosa is an subscription (cheap) based email service run on a server in Panama. Panama has strong privacy laws. The server supports GPG message encryption and adds another layer of encryption to messages stored on the server. It can be used either through a normal email client like Thunderbird or through a webmail interface. The site is at

Annony says:

Well in the USA govt can just get information from your ISP without too much trouble like warrents or showing there is good reason that a specific persons email should be looked at. Also the govt does not stop private companies from collecting data on all citizens/residents/non-residents because then they can get that info with no problems. There is no longer much of peoples lives that is private anymore.

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