The government wants ISPs to keep a record all user IP addresses

In another case of middle-aged-officials-who-don’t-quite-get-technology, the government has announced a new measure that would require ISPs to log the IP addresses of all machines and mobile devices that access the internet. Because everyone knows it’s impossible to hide your IP address.

According to the BBC, Home Secretary Theresa May will announce the new requirement on Wednesday as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. Supposedly the new measure will allow authorities to identify criminals, hackers, cyber bullies, terrorists, and vulnerable children who may be at risk of taking their own life.

In theory it sounds like a fantastic idea, the only problem is that (as anybody with any basic networking knowledge will tell you) IP addresses are not an absolute method of identifying devices since they can be changed or spoofed. In fact, doing so is how people in this country can access foreign video streaming content. It’s as easy as downloading a browser extension and clicking a button.

James Massey of the Internet Service Providers association isn’t exactly a fan either, telling the BBC:

“It looks like it could catch people who post annoying things on Twitter or not very nice things on social media — but not those who know how to hide their online activities. It’s not a sensible thing to have decided to do without consulting us first.”

Of course there have been vocal critics pointing out that this could lead to stricter cyber surveillance laws. Whether that will be the case has yet to be seen, in the mean time I think we should focus on the fact that the people coming up with these ideas don’t really know what they’re talking about. Let’s not forget, this is the same general group of people who decided that banning VPNs was a good idea.

Tom Pritchard

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