'Snooping bill' puts coalition under strain
Powers to allow Britain's police and security services to monitor every email, phone call and visit to a website will be announced this week, intensifying tensions within the coalition.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is expected to publish the controversial Communications Data Bill on Friday, which will require service providers to record all internet and phone activity.
The proposals will allow police and intelligence officers to monitor with whom someone is in contact with and which websites they view, although the content of communications will not be accessed.
The Conservatives are prepared for a strong backlash from their own and Liberal Democrat MPs, who fear the proposals are a 'snooper's charter' and too great an intrusion.
In April, Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, insisted the plans would not just be "rammed" into law. The Home Office is taking the unusual step of allowing the Bill to be scrutinised by a special parliamentary committee, which will take evidence from campaign groups and interested parties before it passes through parliament.
One senior coalition source said: "This is going to be controversial, there are no two ways about it. There is going to be a big battle between those in favour of security and those in favour of liberty."
Ms May will say that the Bill is necessary to allow the police and security services to keep up with advancements in communication technology. The Home Office has argued that the fight against paedophile rings, serious organised crime and fraud has already been hampered and insists the plans are only an extension of existing powers.
Dominic Raab, a Tory backbencher, said: "Given the lousy experience of ID cards and every other recent government IT project, the proposals will have an uphill struggle." (© Daily Telegraph, London)