Disentangling data can be difficult and costly, say net experts.
UK MPs are investigating what it will cost ISPs to meet government proposals to log where Britons go online.
The House of Commons Science and Technology committee is looking at whether gathering data on net-using citizens is even feasible. It also wants to look into the potential impact that logging browsing will have on how people use the web.
The consultation comes as questions mount over the money the government will set aside to support monitoring.
The draft Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill) was unveiled last week and it attempts to update the way the state, police and spies gather data to fight crime, terrorism and other threats.
One of the most contentious aspects of the IP Bill obliges ISPs to record information about the services, websites and data every UK citizen uses. These “Internet
The Science and Technology committee has said it wants to look more deeply into this and its potential cost.
In a notice announcing the inquiry, the Committee said it wanted to find out if it was possible for ISPs to meet the IP Bill’s requirements. The text of the Bill asks ISPs to log where people go but not what they do when on a site or using a service.
MPs also want to find out how easy it is for ISPs to separate data about a visit to a site from what happens once people log in, because more stringent rules govern who can discover what people do on a site as opposed to the sites they use.
The Committee will also look at how much it might cost the providers to do this.
The government has said it will provide £175m to ISPs over 10 years to pay for data to be gathered and stored.
ISPs watch the flows of data across their networks to help manage traffic, he said, but they typically only sample these streams because they deal with such massive quantities of information every day.