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Plan to monitor all internet use

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Communications companies are being asked to record all internet contacts between people to modernise police surveillance tactics in the UK.

 

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith stepped back from a single database - but wants companies to hold and organise the information for the security services.

 

The new system would track all e-mails, phone calls and internet use, including visits to social network sites.

 

Ministers say police and the security services need new tools to fight crime.

 

Announcing a consultation on a new strategy for communications data and its use in law enforcement, Ms Smith said there would be no single government-run database.

 

But she also said that "doing nothing" in the face of a communications revolution was not an option.

 

The Home Office will instead ask communications companies - from internet service providers to mobile phone networks - to extend the range of information they currently hold on their subscribers and organise it so that it can be better used by the police, MI5 and other public bodies investigating crime and terrorism.

 

Ministers say they estimate the project will cost £2bn to set up, which includes some compensation to the communications industry for the work it may be asked to do.

 

"Communications data is an essential tool for law enforcement agencies to track murderers, paedophiles, save lives and tackle crime," Ms Smith said.

 

"Advances in communications mean that there are ever more sophisticated ways to communicate and we need to ensure that we keep up with the technology being used by those who seek to do us harm.

 

"It is essential that the police and other crime fighting agencies have the tools they need to do their job, However to be clear, there are absolutely no plans for a single central store."

 

'Contact not content'

 

Communication service providers (CSPs) will be asked to record internet contacts between people, but not the content, similar to the existing arrangements to log telephone contacts.

 

But, recognising that the internet has changed the way people talk, the CSPs will also be asked to record some third party data or information partly based overseas, such as visits to an online chatroom and social network sites like Facebook or Twitter.

 

Security services could then seek to examine this data along with information which links it to specific devices, such as a mobile phone, home computer or other device, as part of investigations into criminal suspects.

 

The plan expands a voluntary arrangement under which CSPs allow security services to access some data which they already hold.

 

the security services already deploy advanced techniques to monitor telephone conversations or intercept other communications, but this is not used in criminal trials.

 

Ms Smith said that while the new system could record a visit to a social network, it would not record personal and private information such as photos or messages posted to a page.

 

"What we are talking about is who is at one end [of a communication] and who is at the other - and how they are communicating," she said.

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Interestingly they've backed away from their original and much more insidious idea of a central Government controlled database.

 

Fop wins again! :aussie:

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