THE UK GOVERNMENT is preparing to demand that phone companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) retain internet users' data and information about them for a year.
A report at the Telegraph says that the Home Office is talking about proposals to make ISPs and communications providers record users' phone numbers, contact details, and email addresses. Although it is not asking for the contents of messages, what content is stored will be open to inspection by law enforcement.
Social networks will also fall under the scheme according to the report, and direct messages between Twitter users will be stored, as will communications between players in online video games.
A government announcement is not expected until May, says the Telegraph. The requests come from the UK security agencies MI5 and MI6 plus GCHQ, the government's all-hearing, all-seeing electronic intelligence organisation.
If this all rings a bell it is not simply because it sounds like just the sort of thing that the government would do, but because it has tried this before. The Labour government tried its hand at a data retention order once, but that fell through.
Under its new guise this is expected to come under government plan called the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP). This was briefly mentioned in the Queen's Speech in May last year, says the Open Rights Group.
"This Kafka-esque 'Intercept Modernisation Plan' was stopped near the end of the last government, but was quietly revived as the 'Communications Capabilities Development Programme'. Now, closed-door discussions have been revealed: legislation will be proposed in May," says a statement on the Open Rights Group's web site that offers people a chance to sign a petition in opposition.
"We need to tell the government to stop this wasteful, intrusive plan for wholesale snooping on our daily lives." µ