|Big Brother WILL snoop on your calls and clicks: Ministers resurrect plan to log all communications
Mail | October 20, 2010
Hugely controversial ‘Big Brother’ plans to store details of every internet click, email and telephone call that we make are being revived by the Coalition, it emerged last night.
Police, security services and other public bodies would be able to find out which websites a person had visited, and when, where and to whom a text or call was made.
Security officials insist that monitoring communications data is vital in the fight against terrorism and serious organised crime.
But the plan – which was kicked into the long grass by Labour amid a public outcry – will put the Government on a collision course with civil liberties groups.
They argue it is a ‘snooper’s charter’ which will allow the state to spy on millions of innocent citizens.
So far ministers have insisted they want to provide a ‘correction in favour of liberty’ when it comes to the powers required to protect the public.
This is likely to include the scrapping or watering down of a raft of draconian laws introduced by the last government, such as so-called ‘Section 44’ stop and search without suspicion, and spying by Town Hall bureaucrats.
But ministers have been persuaded of the case to give the police and security officials enhanced rights to access the public’s communications.
Officials insist many terrorists no longer use traditional methods of communication, hatching plots in internet chatrooms or on social networking sites such as Facebook.
They can also speak over the internet, using Skype, and communicate through online computer games.
One official said communications data ‘provides evidence in court to secure convictions of those engaged in activities that cause serious harm’.
It has played a role in every major Security Service counter-terrorism operation and in 95 per cent of all serious organised crime investigations in recent years, sources said.
Firm plans will be published later this year on how the personal information – which does not include the contents of emails or text messages – should be stored.
Crucially, one option that has been ruled out is holding it all on a huge central government database.
The most likely scenario is that internet and telephone companies will be expected to store the details themselves. The authorities could then request access to the data as part of investigations.