New powers for UK state snoopers on the net

The British government is drawing up plans to give sweeping new powers to the security and intelligence agencies, and other public bodies, allowing them to access personal data using a wide range of internet sites, including social and gaming networks, Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, signalled yesterday.In a keynote speech on countering terrorism, she said the police and MI5 needed greater power to pursue suspected criminals and terrorists using new internet sites to conceal their communications. Though she stressed the importance of legal safeguards and public debate, there is little doubt the move will cause serious concern about the erosion of civil liberties and individual privacy.At present, security and intelligence agencies can demand to see telephone and email traffic from traditional communications services providers, CSPs, which store personal data for their own business reasons, notably for billing customers. However, the rapid expansion of new services offering game playing, social networking, auction and video sites, WiFi access, and broadband present a serious problem for the security services, according to Home Office officials. networking sites to be snooped on by security services
Social networking websites will be snooped on by the security services under new powers which campaigners fear will lead to an expansion of the “Big Brother” state.Information collected from the sites is likely to be used to build a new super-database at the heart of Government, allowing officials to monitor people’s every online move.The plans were dismissed as “Orwellian” by Opposition parties while campaigners said that monitoring internet traffic was evidence of the rise of the “stalker state”.Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said communications data which helped convict the July 7 bombers were no longer being stored on a routine basis.

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