Campaigners have slammed the government’s draft proposals to for its Communications Data Bill, which will make it easier for security and police services to spy on e-mails, phone calls and internet activity.
The bill will now be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a joint committee of Parliament, but has been widely criticised as an assault on civil liberties.
Nick Pickles, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “The bill is as expected – an unprecedented and unwarranted attack on our privacy that will see the government track where we make calls, who we e-mail and what everyone does online.
"We are all suspects now.
"Across 117 pages, the Home Office has set out the greatest attack on private life seen for generations.”
Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said: "The government's notes confirm that this is exactly what we expected: black boxes to intercept
people's traffic data and poorly supervised police powers to get access to it.
"Bluntly, these are as dangerous as we expected, and represent unprecedented surveillance powers in the democratic world.”
Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Internet Service Providers Association, said the body was concerned how the proposals would be interpreted and whether implementation would be technically possible.
“Whilst we appreciate that technological developments mean that government is looking again at its communications data capabilities, it is important that powers are clear and contain sufficient safeguard,” he added.
The government’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) will now investigate the feasibility of the proposals, said chairman Malcolm Rifkind, MP.
“We will take evidence and examine the rationale behind the proposals and how rigorous the safeguards are to ensure the privacy of individuals,” Rifkind said.