In a move that may have caught the attention of Indian intelligence agencies and probably certain sections of the Government; the internet activity of everyone in Britain will have to be stored for a year by service providers, under new surveillance law plans.
UK’s Police and intelligence officers will be able to see the names of sites people have visited without a warrant, UK Home Secretary Theresa May said.
New surveillance powers will be given to the police and security services, allowing them to access records tracking every UK citizen’s use of the internet without any judicial check, under the provisions of the draft investigatory powers bill unveiled by the Home Secretary.
It includes new powers requiring internet and phone companies to keep “internet connection records” – tracking every website visited but not every page – for a maximum of 12 months but will not require a warrant for the police, security services or other bodies to access the data. Local authorities will be banned from accessing internet records.
Police said they need the powers as the scale of activity carried out online meant traditional methods of surveillance and investigation were becoming more limited.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman for data communications refused to comment on any specifics of the forthcoming legislation, but said that the police were not looking for anything beyond what they could already access through telephone records.
Assistant chief constable at Gloucestershire police, said: “We want to police by consent, and we want to ensure that privacy safeguards are in place.
Explaining the powers police want, he said: “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?
The Indian decision makers adopting such a surveillance law is a possibility considering the fact that they were mulling over a bill to enforce Whatsapp message storage just over a month back.