The government is planning to put another piece of the surveillance state jigsaw into place as soon as next month.
New legislation will allow UK intelligence services to tuck into real-time monitoring of browsing, email and phone call data, with ISPs and major sites such as Google and Facebook obligated to pass details on.
Under the new scheme of things, ISPs would have to mirror traffic through GCHQ, to allow for a more in-depth inspection of data, and the ability to process such information more swiftly, as it happens.
According to a Home Office spokesperson, the appropriate laws could be passed as soon as Parliament will allow. This swift move comes despite the fact that the Tories were against such a concept when Labour floated the idea, back when they were in power.
It's not the first time that a new government has suddenly reversed course on a stance it held in opposition, mind you, and doubtless it won't be the last.
The spokesperson said: "It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public."
"Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications."
The new legislation would still mean a search warrant was required to access and read specific content. However, intelligence operatives would still be able to determine who people are contacting, and how often.
This is another step in the erosion of internet privacy and freedom, and while the government may well cite terrorism prevention and suchlike, the fact is any half clued-up terrorist organisation will likely have ways and means around being monitored online anyway - unlike the average citizen. Who, naturally enough, is going to be paying for all this.
Source: ZDNet (opens in new tab)