October 16, 2008

Officials: Internet Calls Thwarting Police

The huge growth in Internet phone calls is hurting the ability of police to investigate almost every type of crime, British security officials say.

As more and more people route calls over the Web, using software such as Skype, police are losing their ability to track who has called whom, from where and for how long, the security officials told The Times of London.

A key difficulty investigators face is that Internet phone companies do not keep call records, unlike mobile phone companies, which retain call data for billing purposes, the Times said.

British Home Secretary Jacqueline Smith outlined plans Wednesday for a huge expansion of the government's ability to access data held by Web services, including social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo, and gaming networks.

The move follows growing concern among police, Britain's MI5 security service, customs and other government agencies that serious criminals and terrorists are using Web sites as a way of concealing their communications, the Times said.