Britain’s domestic security agency MI5 is responsible for intercepting a ‘staggering’ volume of telecommunications data and "anonymised" financial records, according to documents released to campaign group Privacy International.
Authorised by successive home secretaries since 2005 the paper trail has been seized on by privacy campaigners who say it illustrates the ‘staggering’ reach of UK government surveillance.
Defending the activities,the Home Office said such data sweeps were ‘essential’ and had thrown up a variety of "vital and unique intelligence",
"The security and intelligence agencies use the same techniques that modern businesses increasingly rely on to analyse data in order to overcome the most significant national security challenges."
The government files show that authorities are capable of requesting a variety of personal data including medical records, financial details, telephone and internet histories.