For immediate release
It is reported  that the Government is on the verge of announcing a plan to force internet service providers to keep records of all browsing, email, gaming and chat use, and to make those records available to the authorities. This is a revival of an old plan, last publicly considered during the previous Labour administration . Both Coalition parties claimed to be doubtful in opposition. In January 2010 the Conservatives promised a review  that would ‘develop a clear statement of purpose for each [Government database] in line with the principles of proportionality and necessity’.
This scheme amounts in part to a huge extension of something already in place, the Data Retention Directive, which NO2ID  and many other groups continue to oppose, and which was forced by the Home Office through EU institutions, evading parliamentary control. The other part accounts for the common estimates of a £2 Billion cost to the public purse: installing equipment to get at the data at the touch of a button.
As well as opposing this plan, NO2ID is calling for a revision of the legislation surrounding surveillance, to require a judicial warrant and reasonable suspicion of actual crimes. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 dozens of organisations (including quangos and government departments ) have the power to access the limited communications data already collected, and need only their own authority to do so. The existing powers are used more than half a million times a year. 
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:
It looks like the Home Office is setting out to leapfrog China and gain the UK an unenviable position as the most monitored society in history. The automatic recording and tracing of everything done online by anyone – of almost all our communications and much of our personal lives, shopping and reading – just in case it might come in useful to the authorities later, is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime, and beyond the current capabilities of even the most oppressive states.
The vague assertion that all this is needed to deal with the usual bogeyman, terrorism, is worthless. It is hard to imagine any threat that is serious enough to justify it. But something that aims to make surveillance easy will create a demand for surveillance. Unless it is subject to proper controls from the beginning, then the pretexts for access will multiply. That would mean the end of privacy.
Notes for editors:
1) ‘Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan’ – Sunday Telegraph 19 Feb 2012
2) ‘Internet black boxes to record every email and website visit’ – Daily telegraph 5 Nov 2008
3) ‘Tories outline plans to review comms database’ – Kable, 18 Jan 2010
4) NO2ID is the national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people.
5) For background see NO2ID Press release, June 2011: http://press.mu.no2id.net/2011-06/police-knowing-your-web-use-doesnt-stop-crime-surprise/
7) See for details the report “Freedom From Suspicion” – Justice, Nov 2011
Downloadable from http://www.justice.org.uk/resources.php/305/freedom-from-suspicion
For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:
Guy Herbert (General Secretary, email@example.com) on 07956 544 308
James Baker (Campaigns Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org) on 07817605 162