London, April 25 (Inditop) The British government plans to give its police and security forces sweeping powers to snoop on every call, e-mail or website visit by the public, media reports said.
The proposed powers will allow security services to monitor communication traffic, – “who calls, texts, e-mails – when and where – but not what is said”, reported The Telegraph Friday.
According to the paper, the plans for the exercise are to be unveiled next week.
Similarly, the security agencies will be able to see which websites someone visits, when and from where but not the content of those visits.
This means that the precise content of calls and other communications will not be accessible but the text messages and visits to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be tracked.
However, if the data sets alarm bells ringing, officials can request a ministerial warrant to intercept exactly what is being sent, including the content.
Britain’s Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is to argue next week that the powers are needed to target terrorists and serious criminals who are taking advantage of the increasing complex nature of communications to plot atrocities.
A consultation document on the plan, known in government circles as the Interception Modernisation Programme, is likely to put great emphasis on the threat facing Britain and warn that the alternative would be a massive expansion of surveillance.
The move has alarmed civil liberty campaigners. Britain’s data protection watchdog Thursday night warned that the proposals would be “unacceptable”.
Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, the country’s data watchdog, said: “I have no problem with the targeted surveillance of terrorist suspects. But a government database of the records of everyone’s communications, if that is to be proposed, is not likely to be acceptable to the British public. Remember that records – who, when, and where – can be highly intrusive even if no content is collected.”