BIG BROTHER BRITAIN is set to get even worse with the government calling for communications companies to closely monitor citizens' Internet use. Except not yet, it seems - see the Update below.
Despite the fact that Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies do not want to be unpaid informers for the government, the Home Office said that it will press ahead to find out exactly what each of its citizens are doing on the net.
Firms will have to retain information on how people use social networks such as Facebook. After all it is really important that Gordon Brown knows who we poke on a daily basis.
The moves are all part of an "updating" of wiretap laws which currently only cover telephone use.
The Home Office wants to change the law to compel communication service providers (CSPs) to collect and retain records of communications from a wider range of Internet sources, from email and social networks through chatrooms and unorthodox methods, such as within online games.
The government only wants the data stored just in case you commit a crime and then the police can look at your doings. It swears there is no plan to create a single computer database or sift through the data looking for thought crimes, yet.
But the technology is pretty hard going. All ISPs and CSPs will have to sort and organise all third-party traffic coming and going through their systems. That, it has been estimated, will cost at least £2 billion, which the companies are of course going to pass on to their customers.
Update Today's Daily Mail reports that Labour MPs apparently quailed at the prospect of having to stand for election again shortly after having imposed such a ridiculously unnecessary, over-intrusive, expensive and easily abused programme of constant monitoring of all Internet communications on everyone in the country.
It was announced today that the Government had decided to put off implementation of this latest Big Brother scheme until after the next election. µ