The mobile calls, emails and website visits of every person in Britain will be stored for a year under sweeping new powers which come into force on Monday. Privacy campaigners warned last night that the information would be used by the Government to create a giant “Big Brother” super-database containing a map of everyone’s private life.
The new powers will, for the first time, place a legal duty on internet companies to store private information, including email traffic and website browsing histories.
Although the new retention powers will not permit the storage of the content of emails or phone calls it will show details such as IP addresses, date, time and user telephone numbers. Under the terms of the EU directive, the Home Office has written to leading internet service providers and phone companies offering to compensate them for the costs incurred in retaining the data for a year.
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A spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association confirmed that the leading ISPs had received written orders from the Home Office setting out their obligations under the new rules.
Phil Booth of the civil rights campaign group, NOID, said: “Inch by inch, the Government’s plans to map and monitor everyone’s communications are creeping into place. Today it’s retention of data, soon it’ll be a giant database to suck it all up. And unless we speak out and stop this, what used to be private – details of your relationships and personal interests – will end up in the ever-widening control of the stalker state.”