Public bodies such as local councils and health authorities could be given the right to snoop through records of internet activity under government proposals.
Home Office yesterday issued details of which bodies will have access to details of personal text, email and web use. The government wants to make it mandatory for phone and internet companies to store all information on internet traffic and VoIP calls personal for 12 months.
The plans, which were contained in a Home Office consultation paper, were originally conceived in 2005 after the 7/7 London bombings.
The data would be made available to a number of public bodies during crime investigations and public safety threats. However, the proposal did stress that records of the content of the traffic would not be kept.
Dubbed the 'snooper's charter' by some MPs, the proposal will involve storing "a billion incidents of data exchange a day" and could cost taxpayers £46m.
Telecommunications companies already voluntarily store details of internet activity but the Government said it would now become mandatory thanks to a new European directive. It also released plans of a 'super' database that will contain all data on all telephone calls and internet activity.
"This data allows investigators to identify suspects, examine their contacts, establish relationships between conspirators and place them in a specific location at a certain time," said a Home Office spokesman.