POLICE are set to be given the powers to check everyone’s internet browsing history, as part of a new surveillance bill due to be published next week, according to reports.
The new plans would force telecom firms and internet service providers to keep records of the internet histories of all customers for a 12-month period, the Daily Telegraph reports.
We essentially need the ‘who, where, when and what’ of any communication - were they on Facebook, a banking site, or an illegal child-abuse image-sharing website?Richard Berry
And the National Crime Agency, intelligence services and police forces would be legally able to access specific URLs and web addresses that people had accessed - but would need judicial approval to view the content of websites, emails and messages sent via social media messages.
Police have claimed that the scale of activity being carried out online makes the powers necessary, with media reports suggesting that police have lobbied the Government for the change.
The National Police Chief’s Council data communications spokesman Richard Berry told the Guardian: “We essentially need the ‘who, where, when and what’ of any communication – who initiated it, where were they and when did it happened.
“And a little bit of the ‘what’ - were they on Facebook, a banking site, or an illegal child-abuse image-sharing website?
“Five years ago, [a suspect] could have physically walked into a bank and carried out a transaction. We could have put a surveillance team on that but now, most of it is done online. We just want to know about the visit.”
Mr Berry stressed that the police were not after anything beyond what they are already able to access through telephone records.
The Bill is expected to largely be a revival of Theresa May’s ‘snooper’s charter’, or Data Communications Bill.
The Home Secretary faced a setback earlier this year when an independent review raised concerns over calls to store every person’s internet history.
It was blocked by the Liberal Democrats due to privacy concerns during the coalition government but the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill could revive the measures.
Tory MP David Davis told The Times: “It’s extraordinary they’re asking for this again, they are overreaching and there is no proven need to retain such data for a year.”