London, Apr.6 (ANI): Details of every email sent and website visited by people in Britain are to be stored for a year as part of what campaigners claim is a massive assault on privacy. A European Union directive, which Britain was instrumental in devising, comes into force which will require all internet service providers to retain information on email traffic, visits to web sites and telephone calls made over the internet, for 12 months.
Police and the security services will be able to access the information to combat crime and terrorism, reports The Telegraph. Hundreds of public bodies and quangos, including local councils, will also be able to access the data to investigate fly-tipping and other less serious crimes.
Privacy campaigners say the move to force telecoms companies to store the data is the first step towards the controversial central database at the heart of the Home Office's Intercept Modernisation Programme, which will gather far more detailed information on Britain's online activities.
Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said: "I don't think people are aware of the implications of this move. It means that everything we do online or on the phone will be known to the authorities.
"They are using this to produce probably the world's most comprehensive surveillance system," he added. Thierry Dieu of ETNO, the European telecoms networks operators association, said: "We regret that the legislation has been put through without real consultation with the players in the market.
"The UK is the only country which has decided to reimburse the cost of retaining all the data. It remains to be seen whether this will cover all the costs."
A Home Office spokesman said: "It is the Government's priority to protect public safety and national security. That is why we are completing the implementation of this directive, which will bring the UK in line with our European counterparts." (ANI)