Civil liberties groups have reacted with dismay to government proposals to initiate blanket monitoring of all calls, emails, texts and website visits made in Britain.
New legislation, to be unveiled soon, will require that internet firms supply such information to the government’s intelligence agency, GCHQ, in real time in order to tackle crime and terrorism.
GCHQ wouldn’t be allowed to open the data unless it had a warrant to do so however but it would allow the organisation to infer which individuals a person or group was in communication with – and for how long, alongside a list of the websites they’d visited.
The plans have already been castigated by some in the government with Tory MP David Davis saying it amounted to ”an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people.”
Davis said the plans would make it easier: “to eavesdrop on vast numbers of people", adding: "What this is talking about doing is not focusing on terrorists or criminals, it's absolutely everybody's emails, phone calls, web access," he told the BBC.
"All that's got to be recorded for two years and the government will be able to get at it with no by your leave from anybody."
Nick Pickles, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, was also less than supportive of the measure, dubbing it: "an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran".