Police are to be given the power to view everyone’s entire internet history in a new surveillance bill to be published next week, according to reports.
The proposed legislation will make it a legal requirement for telecoms and internet service providers to retain all of the web browsing history for all customers for a period of 12 months, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Authorities such as the police, intelligence services and the National Crime Agency would be able to access specific web addresses people had visited, but would need approval from a judge to view the content of websites, emails and social media messages.
Police have argued that the powers are necessary due to the scale of activity being carried out online, with The Guardian reporting that police have lobbied the Government for the change.
Richard Berry, the National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman for data communications, told the newspaper: “We essentially need the ‘who, where, when and what’ of any communication – who initiated it, where were they and when did it happened.
“And a little bit of the ‘what’, were they on Facebook, or a banking site, or an illegal child-abuse image-sharing website?
“Five years ago, [a suspect] could have physically walked into a bank and carried out a transaction. We could have put a surveillance team on that but now, most of it is done online. We just want to know about the visit.”
He acknowledged it would be too intrusive for police to be able to access the content of social media messages and internet searches without the requirement for a judicial warrant.
Next Wednesday’s bill is expected to be a revival of Home Secretary Theresa May’s so-called ‘snooper’s charter’, which suffered a setback earlier this year when an independent review rased doubts over moves to store every person’s web-browsing history.
David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said the case had not been made for demanding full records of web-browsing histories, noting that he knew of no other Western countries which forced service providers to retain “weblogs” and that new Australian legislation had been drafted in such a way as to prevent that happening.