The government’s draft data communication bill has been eviscerated by civil liberties campaigners over concerns that it amounts to a snoopers charter.
Ministers wish to extend the type of information that internet service providers must retain, in order to track the conversations of criminals, paedophiles and terrorists.
Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group, complained: “This is all about giving the police unsupervised access to data. It is shocking for a government that opposed Labour's plans on this to propose virtually the same thing.
"It will cost billions of pounds and will end up only catching the stupid or the innocent. Terrorists will circumvent it."
Home Secretary Theresa May launched the bill promising that message contents wouldn’t be recorded, only the records of who communicated with who.
May added: "If we stand by as technology changes, we will leave police officers fighting crime with one hand tied behind their backs.”