Technical and legal experts are claiming that laws soon to be made active in the UK which concern data retention are seriously flawed. The legislation, which is European in origin, makes it a requirement for telecommunications companies and ISPs to save information about customers' phone calls and electronic communications for up to two years.

The directive has been criticised for not putting the question of who pays the cost of retaining data into law, instead relying on informal negotiations between individual ISPs, telcos and the Home Office.

"No mention is made of costs. The directive says 'Article 10 Costs. Deleted'," said Internet expert Clive Feather, speaking at the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) Annual Parliamentary Advisory Forum in Westminster.

These views are shared by the Police, who are expected to foot some of the bill. The directive is also shaky on a number of other grounds, even in defining exactly what an Internet service provider is.