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Experts question sheer scale of data storage required by Snooper's Charter

Who will foot bill for physical infrastructure to house UK's browsing histories?

Data industry

Requirements in the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill, unveiled yesterday, for ISPs to store the history of every website visited by every individual on every device in the UK have been called into question at a technical level.

Under the proposed law, ISPs and mobile networks would have to retain what the government has termed "Internet Connection Records", or "ICRs" for up to 12 months.

ICRs comprise details, including IP addresses, of the websites that individuals visit, although not necessarily what content they access there, nor what actions they perform.

While this has caused concerns among privacy and security professionals and campaigners, the practicality of this requirement is also now being called into question.

"Unfortunately, this legislation unlocks more questions than it answers," said Bharat Mistry, a cybersecurity consultant with Trend Micro.

"If a Communications Service Provider (CSP) is required to capture this data and store it, there is a question around who is going to fund the infrastructure costs? This isn't just about the physical infrastructure assets but environmental sucha as power, cooling and physical security costs have to be considered," Mistry said.

"CSPs are already saying that data storage repositories are growing at an unmanageable rate - so how can this quantity of data be managed and securely transferred and stored?" he added.

Tarkan Maner, CEO of software-defined storage firm Nexenta, struck a similar note.

"While politicians and privacy campaigners are likely to continue to debate the ethical implications of the findings, and subsequently the terms of the bill, the big question that the IT industry is asking is how will this add to the already unsolved challenge of Big Data collection," said Maner.

"From a business perspective, we already find ourselves in a position where data collection is overwhelming the technology being used to collect and store is - and storage is emerging as a bottleneck to address. The industry, and bodies affected by the draft charter must move now and prepare their infrastructure to cope with this explosion of data," he added.

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