First the UK government proposed a giant database that recorded all contacts on the Internet and by phone. Now they’ve abandoned that, and instead the Home Office plans to ask communications companies to keep records on their subscribers and all their activity, whether it’s online or on mobile phones, according to the BBC.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"Communications data is an essential tool for law enforcement agencies to track murderers, pedophiles, save lives and tackle crime."
"Advances in communications mean that there are ever more sophisticated ways to communicate and we need to ensure that we keep up with the technology being used by those who seek to do us harm.”
"It is essential that the police and other crime fighting agencies have the tools they need to do their job, However to be clear, there are absolutely no plans for a single central store."
Comms companies would also be responsible for organizing the data they hold so it could be better used by police and government agencies. The project is likely to cost in the region of £2 billion (around $3 billion) to set up, which would include compensation for the communications industry.
Companies would have to keep records of the Internet contacts people make, but not of the content of conversations. They’d also have to record some third party data or information partly based overseas, which will include visits to online chatrooms and social network sites. Security services could then have access to the data (as they do now, under a voluntary arrangement). However, current legal safeguards under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act would continue to apply to data access.