The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has asked consultants to put a value on privacy protection, just as the government revealed it gave permission for more than half a million phone and e-mail interceptions last year.
Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said, the problems the UK faced did not justify spying on half a million people a year. "We have sleepwalked into a surveillance state but without adequate safeguards," he said.
The ICO has asked Watson Hall Ltd and John Leach Information Security (JLIS) to produce a business case for investing in proactive privacy protection.
ICO assistant commissioner Jonathan Bamford said putting a value on privacy protection was crucial to ensuring safeguards.
The discussion document will be available on Friday 14 August 2009 and the consultation closes on 1 September 2009.