Government and Councils To Get Snooping Rights To Access Private Emails and Texts

The Home Office is considering plans to coerce Internet Service Providers to keep web traffic and email data for a minimum of 12 months in a bid to crack down on serious crime and terrorism.

The plan, which will also see our phone records come under scrutiny, is said to cost the taxpayers nearly £50 million and will allow police, town halls, security services and public quangos - more than 650 in all - to get access to records of anyone suspected of criminal involvement.

The proposals, dubbed "Snoopers' charter" by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, comes from an EU directive which means that the data should be available across Europe with the associated risks.

Interestingly, the Guardian mentions that even VoIP calls will be monitored although the article does not say clearly how - this in turn raises doubt about whether programs like Skype have a backdoor access or not.

The UK government has until March 2009 to implement the legal framework to make the plan stand and create a massive database.

It is already mandatory for phone companies to retain records of both landline and mobile phone calls made by their users for one year, although that would certainly not discourage criminals from using widely available free SIM cards and throw-away or stolen phones.