The UK Government will "water down" proposals made in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks for internet service providers (ISPs) to track customers' habits for 12 months, The Yankee Group has predicted.
The analyst also said it would be some considerable time before the measures could be introduced.
Campaigners are concerned at plans to introduce emergency measures which include forcing ISPs to keep records for a year on the websites their customers visit, the newsgroups they use and with whom they send and receive emails.
But Andy Greenman, internet strategies analyst with the Yankee Group, doesn't believe they will go through with the proposals because of the cost implications for ISPs and opposition from privacy campaigners.
In a research note, he said: "We expect the proposed changes to be watered down in light of the current weak state of the ISP market, and the UK Government's announced commitment to a wired Britain."
Greenman also pointed out that the measures may damage the relationship between ISPs and their customers. "It is essential that ISPs do not lose the trust of their subscribers as they try to encourage them to do more online shopping and use services such as e-banking and [online] bill payment," he said.
He added that it may be a considerable length of time before the anti-terrorist measures will have any impact on ISPs, as Europe is also considering the issue.
"The Anti-terrorism Act has compounded uncertainty surrounding the role of the responsibility of service providers in upholding data privacy and security standards," he explained. "However, this is one aspect of a far larger topic that is currently being debated in Europe as part of the draft telecom directive."
"We would counsel ISPs to pressure the Government to provide some concrete rationale for this move, but believe they will see a considerable wait before the Act, in whatever form, takes effect," he added.
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