The U.K. Home Office has proposed a bill that would allow authorities to log the activity of nearly everything roughly 60 million people do on the Internet, according to the Associated Press.
“Communications data saves lives,” Home Secretary Theresa May said. “It is a vital tool for the police to catch criminals and to protect children. If we stand by as technology changes we will leave police officers fighting crime with one hand tied behind their backs.”
The bill would force Internet service providers to archive all major forms of online communication, such as emails, tweets and Skype calls. They would also be required to archive their users’ IP addresses, electronic hardware, and Internet history. The data would be stored for one year.
But the government insisted it would not collect the actual content of emails or other communications. They denied bill would allow police to intercept and read citizens’ emails or phone calls. Instead, the bill would only collect information such as who sent the email, when the email was sent and who received the email.
“Checking communication records, not content, is a crucial part of day-to-day policing and the fingerprinting of the modern age – we are determined to ensure its continued availability in cracking down on crime,” May said.
But that is still too much blanket data collection for many civil liberties advocates and privacy rights groups.
“This policy goes against the Coalition Agreement, against Conservative pre-election policy and is fundamentally an illiberal, intrusive boondoggle that will do little to improve national security and do everything to turn us into a nation of suspects,” the group Big Brother Watch said.
“This initiative poses a grave threat to the privacy and freedoms of every person living in or visiting the UK, it should be opposed and if there is a problem with evidence gathering a more balanced approach sought,” Loz Kaye of Pirate Party UK added.
[Digital surveillance image via Shutterstock]