Web intercept group has spent £14m since January

The Communications Capabilities Directorate has spent nearly quarter of a million pounds a day since the beginning of 2010

A government web interception group has spent £14m since it was established in January.

The Communications Capabilities Directorate (CCD), which the government announced in January, has spent the money on set-up costs.

The figure was revealed by policing and security minister David Hanson in a written parliamentary answer on Wednesday.

"The Directorate has incurred expenditure of £14m since it was established," said Hanson. "This includes resources, facilities and capital expenditure."

A Home Office spokesperson said on Friday that the CCD was set up on the 1 January, but gave no further details about how the money had been spent.

The CCD was established to bring together two teams of Home Office civil servants working on electronic interception, one of which looked at new technologies such as internet telephony and instant messaging under the government's Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) while the other worked on old technologies such as phone-tapping and email.

According to a source close to the work of CCD, the merger of the two groups was mooted in the summer of 2009. The combined group got its title and office in January 2010.

David Hanson said in his parliamentary answer that CCD "brings together work to ensure that... communications data and interception of communications can continue to protect the public and save lives." Hanson added that CCD is working with public authorities to improve training around the use of intercepted data.

Several security experts who did not wish to be named told ZDNet UK on Thursday that spending a large amount of money could indicate that the Home Office was testing IT equipment to gauge the efficacy of the interception of new technologies.

Information forensics expert Peter Sommer said on Thursday said that he hoped MPs such as David Davies, who posed the parliamentary question answered by Hanson, would continue to question the government to find out how the money had been spent.

"I hope that politicians continue to question MPs hard about this area," said Sommer. "Has the £14m been spent on consultants at a huge daily rate, or on experiments, and if so, experiments on what?"

Sommer said that this was "an awful lot of money to spend in a short space of time."

The Interception Modernisation Programme has been given a budget of £2bn over ten years.