Plans to allow UK authorities to monitor the online activity of every person in Britain were pushed back this week after being condemned by MPs of all parties. The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced that the contentious measures would be published only in draft form and would be subject to widespread consultation – concessions that could delay the proposals for at least a year.
The legislation would have given the police, intelligence services, councils and other public bodies access to details of messages sent via Skype and social networks.
The planned Bill would also reportedly allow GCHQ to obtain information “on demand” and in “real time” without a warrant, and require internet companies to install hardware tracking telephone and website traffic.
The proposals would not allow the authorities to read the contents of messages, but to track whom internet users have contacted and when and where the contacts took place.