Big Brother: Social networking visits will be logged under the massive expansion of state spying
An astonishing £380 a minute will be spent on surveillance in a massive expansion of the Big Brother state.
The £200million-a-year sum will give officials access to details of every internet click made by every citizen – on top of the email and telephone records already available.
It is a 1,700 per cent increase on the cost of the current surveillance regime.
Last night LibDem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne described the sum as ‘eye-watering’.
‘There is already enough concern at the level of Government snooping,’ he said.
‘In an era of tough spending choices, it cannot be a justified response to the problems we face as a country to lavish millions of pounds a year on state spying.
‘The increase in money spent on tapping phones and emails is all the more baffling when Britain is still one of the few countries not to allow intercept evidence in court, even in terrorist cases.’
State bodies including councils are already making one request every minute to spy on the phone records and email accounts of members of the public.
The number of snooping missions carried out by police, town halls and other government departments has rocketed by 44 per cent in two years to a rate of 1,381 new cases every day.
Ministers say the five-year cost of the existing regime is £55.61million, an average of £11million a year. This is paid to phone companies and service providers to meet the cost of keeping and providing private information about customers.
The cost of the new system emerged in a series of Parliamentary answers.
It is to cover payments to internet service providers so they can store mountains of information about every customer for a minimum of 12 months, and set up new systems to cope.
The actual content of calls and emails is not be kept – only who they were from or to, when they took place and where they were sent from.
Police, security services and other public authorities can then request access to the data as part of investigations.
Some 653 bodies are currently allowed access, including councils, the Financial Services Authority, the Ambulance Service and fire authorities and prison governors.
The new rules allowing access to internet records will be introduced by Parliament before the end of the year.
They are known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme.
Ministers had originally wanted to store the information on a massive Government-run database, but chose not to because of privacy concerns.
Yesterday Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘The Government is preparing to make British people pay through the nose so that they can track our movements online.’
But a Home Office spokesman said the costs involved were entirely separate from those necessary to comply with the European Data Retention Directive, which requires the storage of phone and email records.
‘Communications data is crucial to the fight against crime and keeping people safe,’ he added.
‘We have made clear that there are no plans to collect and hold the content of everyone’s communications.’
There were 504,073 made last year to intercept email and telephone records under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. It was passed ostensibly to fight terrorism.
But it has been used to spy on people suspected of putting their bins out on the wrong day, dropping litter and attempting to cheat school catchment area rules.
By James Slack
Last updated at 8:44 AM on 21st October 2009
Source: Daily Mail