Councils and public bodies are to be able to access all email, telephone and internet records, sparking new fears over the surveillance state.
Towns halls, along with police, security services and other public bodies will be able to view “communications” details of any one suspected of crime.
But critics fear the move will simply pave the way for authorities to spy on millions of citizens and taxpayers.
The power is contained in a new statutory order quietly laid before parliament yesterday.
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If approved, it will come into effect from next month and cost the public more than Â£46 million to set up and run over the next eight years.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Bodies will not be allowed to see the content of communications but will have access to data such as who was called or texted and when or which websites were visited.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, accused the Government or transforming “understandable policies” in to “erroneous invasions” of people’s lives.