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By Eduardo Ustaran

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued an official statement recognizing the value of communications data in the prevention and detection of crime and prosecution of offenders. However, the ICO said that this, in itself, is not a sufficient justification for mandating the collection of all possible communications data on all subscribers by all communication service providers (CSPs).

The ICO is concerned about the distinction being made between traffic data and content data and, therefore, it has highlighted potential gaps in the current regulatory regime that not only have the potential to affect the rights of individuals and their avenues of recourse, but also the clarity of roles and responsibility of CSPs.

Despite these concerns, the ICO is pleased that the government has rejected the idea of storing all of the proposed additional data in a single database held by government or a central agency.

Eduardo Ustaran is head of the Privacy and Information Law Group at Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, based in London. He is a member of the IAPP Education Advisory Board, co-chair of Knowledge-Net London, editor of Data Protection Law & Policy and co-author of E-Privacy and Online Data Protection. He may be reached at eduardo.ustaran@ffw.com.

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