Government may track social networking traffic

The government is considering tracking and retaining data on social networking sites as part of a move to tackle internet crime.

Minister Vernon Coaker...

The government is considering tracking and retaining data on social networking sites as part of a move to tackle internet crime.

Minister Vernon Coaker said the government is considering retaining data from sites like Facebook, MySpace and Beebo.

He told a Commons committee the government is considering intercept modernisation programme proposals, "which may include requiring the retention of data on Facebook, bebo, MySpace and all other similar sites".

The minister said the aim would be to track criminals, such as paedophiles who use social networking sites to look for potential victims

He said similar regulations on communications data from telecoms companies had helped to solve crimes.

"I accept that this is an extremely difficult area. The interface between retaining data, private security and all such issues of privacy is extremely important.

"The regulations relating to telephony have already been used to place murderers at the scenes of their crimes, to prevent murders and kidnaps from taking place and to identify serious sexual offenders who would not otherwise have been caught as quickly. Internet-related communications data are just as vital."

He said no decisions had been made on whether to track and store internet traffic data, and that a consultation would take place.

The proposals are contained in the Intercept Modernisation Programme, which was introduced last year and is looking at whether the monitoring of internet traffic data could be used as an anti-terrorism tool.

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