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U.K. Government Could Monitor Social Networks

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The British government is already proposing monitoring all e-mails, phone calls, and Internet surfing by its citizens. Now it wants to add contacts on social networks to that mix, according to the BBC.

The Home Office claims that it won’t keep conversation content, but does need the information in order to help fight crime and terrorism. It says the proposals aren’t a move to snoop into private lives.

A spokesman said the measure were necessary "to ensure that we keep up with technological advances."

"The government has no interest in the content of people’s social network sites and this is not going to be part of our upcoming consultation."

"We have been clear that the communications revolution has been rapid in this country and the way in which we collect communications data needs to change, so that law enforcement agencies can maintain their ability to tackle terrorism and gather evidence."

However, there’s plenty of opposition to the recent moves, even if the government says it won’t keep conversation content. In the Independent, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said:

"It is deeply worrying that they now intend to monitor social networking sites which contain very sensitive data like sexual orientation, religious beliefs and political views."

Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Chris Kelly, has called the move “overkill” and is reportedly considering lobbying ministers over the move. He told ZDNet:

"One of the reasons that Facebook has been so successful is that it provides greater privacy controls than any other [social-networking service] on the internet," Kelly said. "The privacy controls allow people to share information in a comfortable, safe and trusted environment."