For years, Europe has been trying to push data retention
rules, that require ISPs to hang onto data much longer than it's needed for any business purpose. Such data retention has plenty of problems, from the likelihood of abuse
to the chance of inadvertent disclosure
to the simple fact that sifting through more data often makes it more difficult
to find the data you actually need. However, the biggest problem is the cost involved with data retention. It's rather costly to retain all that data for many ISPs, and for years ISPs (especially smaller ones) fought to make sure that any data retention laws also included provisions that would make the government pay for retaining the data. While some politicians in the UK have tried to shrug off the cost issue
as not a big deal, it looks like it may leave a loophole that makes data retention in the UK basically meaningless.
The Register is reporting on a meeting the UK government held with various ISPs that left many of the ISPs baffled. Basically, they were told that they needed to start retaining data to stay in compliance with the law, but that since the UK government couldn't pay for it, many of the ISPs could get away without actually retaining the data
. In other words, it sounded as if they said that, yes, you need to retain the data, but since we don't want to pay for it, maybe you shouldn't actually retain the data (wink, wink, nod, nod). So they end up giving lip service to the public about telling ISPs to retain data, but then since they won't fund it, it won't actually happen.