ISPA, the voice of the Internet industry, held its 20th Anniversary Conference in the BT Tower on the ‘Future Communications Landscape’. One hundred senior representatives from the breadth of the Internet industry, media, Government officials and experts exchanged views on the issues affecting the UK Internet sector, with discussions on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

The Bill was discussed in a panel consisting of Leigh Porter, Yaana Technologies, Joanna Cavan, Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IoCCO), Malcolm Hutty, LINX, Calum Jeffray, RUSI and chaired by Glyn Gaskarth from Policy Exchange.

Some key points from the panel are highlighted below:

  • Jo Cavan, Head of IoCCO, said that replacing several acts with one law would make obligations on ISPs simpler, while new oversight arrangements will generate more transparency. However, she also expressed some concerns and highlighted that 80% of the 550,000 communications made to CSPs were related to crime as opposed to terrorism.
  • Malcolm Hutty, Head of Public Affairs at LINX, said the ‘request filter’ could be used as a search engine and the Bill needs to clarify the level of intrusion of the technology. He further said that attempts to undermine encryption could hamper trust in online services. He also highlighted that compliance with the new rules would bring about opportunity costs that could not be recovered.
  • Calum Jeffray, Research Fellow at RUSI, said the cost of storing data is high, but welcomed the new single Investigatory Powers Commissioner.
  • Leigh Porter outlined how Yaana Technologies stressed that not all ISPs will be compelled to retain data, and Yaana have developed a compliance solution that helps ISPs reduce the costs and time in complying with data retention.

Specific industry concerns on the Bill were brought up from key representatives in the room, namely:

  • What exactly counts as an ‘Internet Connection Record’?
  • The unpredictability of whether a smaller ISP will be served a notice and how to understand what is expected from ISPs.
  • Despite provisions around ISPs’ costs potentially being covered by the Government, compliance procedures may hamper innovation and distract businesses from concentrating on their key services.
  • Attempts to undermine encryption could damage user trust in online services

At the conference, ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman said ”ISPs feel a new law is needed to replace the current framework, which is complex and out of date. However, as highlighted at the ISPA Conference, industry has some specific concerns about the new Bill, including definitions of communications data, what exactly an Internet Connection Record is and the status of encryption. Two weeks since publication, this was the first major opportunity for ISPA Members, academics and experts to give their thoughts on the Draft Bill.”

About the ISPA Conference

The 20th Anniversary ISPA Conference took place on Wednesday 18th November at the BT Tower in central London and featured five panels and two keynotes, looking at digital infrastructure, future technological innovations, cyber-security and business Internet.

ISPA would like to thanks the host Openreach and sponsors Arista, Corero, Venus, Xantaro and Yaana. To see coverage of the event, please  see the hashtag #ISPA15.