This story is from the category Legal
Date posted: 27/04/2009
The British government said Monday it wants communications companies to keep records of every phone call, e-mail and Web site visit made in the country. But it has decided not to set up a national database of the information, a proposal that had been condemned as a "Big Brother"-style invasion of privacy by civil liberties groups.
The government said in October it was considering a central database of phone and Internet traffic as part of a high-tech strategy to fight terrorism and crime.
But Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said Monday the plan had been dropped.
A document outlining the department's proposals said the government "recognizes the privacy implications" of a database and "does not propose to pursue this approach."
Instead, the government said it was backing a "middle way" that would see service providers store and organize information on every individual's phone and Internet traffic so that it could be accessed by police and other authorities on request.
The Home Office estimated introducing the new system would cost up to 2 billion pounds ($3 billion).
Under current rules, British Internet service providers are already required to store records of Web and e-mail traffic for a year. The new proposals would also require them to retain details of communications that originated in other countries but passed across British networks - for example if someone in Britain accessed a U.S.-based e-mail account.
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