Email tracking

In March an new EU directive comes in to effect here in the UK. It will mean that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will have to keep a record of emails sent and received through their mail servers. This will apparently allow the police and other security agencies to track communications by criminals and terrorists. In theory anyway. There are a few flaws in this idea though:

There is some doubt as to whether it affects all ISPs or just the larger ones.

It only requires ISPs to track emails, not private individuals or companies running their own mail servers.

It only requires logging of the sender and recipient, it does record the content of the email.

So to circumvent this legislation, it is only necessary for both parties to either run their own mail server or use a small ISP. It wouldn’t take a terrorist long to work that out would it?

And as the content is not stored, all the authorities will know will be that Bob emailed Fred, but they will have no idea about what was said. Bob could just be asking what the weather was like!

And the information that is recorded will be made available to any public body. This could be the Police, Government Agency or your local council. It’s one thing to allow the Police to have access to this information (and that’s bad enough) but why do the local council need it? Or the local Health Authority?

Whilst I accept that the Police may need to keep track of what criminals and terrorists are doing in order to prevent crime, this is just using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. Instead of directing resources at specific targets, a system will be put in place that affects everyone and can easily be thwarted by those it’s supposed to be aimed at.

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