There are new proposals to create a giant database of all Internet traffic and mobile phone calls in the UK, although Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has insisted it would be only dates and times, not actual content. She claimed it was necessary to help police and security services, according to the BBC.
"Our ability to intercept communications and obtain communications data is vital to fighting terrorism and combating serious crime, including child sex abuse, murder and drugs trafficking.
"But the communications revolution has been rapid in this country and the way in which we intercept communications and collect communications data needs to change too.
"If it does not we will lose this vital capability that we currently have and that, to a certain extent, we all take for granted.”
The government will control the database, and only police and security services will be able to access it on request, with information kept for two years by law. Telecoms companies already keep similar data for a year under a voluntary agreement.
The plan will likely hit Parliament next month in the Communication Data Bill, but it’s already drawing criticism. The Liberal Democrats called it “Orwellian,” while Lord Carlile, the government’s own reviewer of anti-terror laws said:
"The raw idea of simply handing over all this information to any government, however benign, and sticking it in an electronic warehouse is an awful idea if there are not very strict controls about it."