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Ministers are preparing to ramp up Government’s powers to monitor email exchanges and website visits made by the public.
Internet companies will have to install hardware enabling the Government to examine "on demand" any phone call, text message or email, and see which website someone accessed.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes.
"Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications."
Former Conservative Party leadership candidate David Davis has criticised the plans, saying ministers hadn't explained why they intend to "eavesdrop on all of us".
"This is an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary innocent people in vast numbers. Frankly, they shouldn't have that power," he said.
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01/04/2012 on BBC News
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01/08/2014 on LBC Radio
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01/08/2014 on World at One, BBC Radio 4