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Campaign group: Snooping plans are an 'unprecedented attack on our privacy'

The director of the privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch has criticised the government today after a controversial move to give police, security services and tax officials access to details of people's phone calls, emails and internet usage.

Nick Pickles said the Bill was an "unprecedented and unwarranted attack on our privacy":

The cursory concession on local councils is pure misdirection to try and disguise what are deeply unsettling proposals.

Across 117 pages the Home Office has set out the greatest attack on the private life seen for generations.

Senior police officer: Snooping plans are 'vital for preventing crime'

Britain's most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has 'strongly backed' new snooping plans to track suspects through the use of their emails and websites.

He acknowledged there was a risk of the police becoming politicised over the issue but said his focus was on catching criminals.

You could say there is a risk [of politicisation], but the thing I'm passionate about is making sure criminals can't get away with crime.

If that's regarded as political, it's a sorry state of affairs.

It is certainly vital in terms of our preventing crime or alternatively in terms of investigations.

  1. Keir Simmons

Aims of Theresa May's surveillance plans

This isn't about the authorities being able to see what you've written in texts or Facebook messages or emails - it's about them keeping the data that says you've sent those messages.

The details won't be available to council or local authorities - the police and Home Secretary are saying that this is about targeting criminals very specifically:

But civil libertarians and back-bench MPs (see Tory MP David Davis) are very outspoken about what they're calling a 'snoopers' charter'.

They're concerned it might be a slippery slope towards targeting innocent people or those who've committed minor crimes.

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May expects to recoup £6bn as result of web surveillance scheme

Theresa May's plans will give police, security services and tax officials access to details of people's internet usage. Credit: PA

The Home Office said the expected benefits from the outlay would be in the region of £5 billion to £6.2 billion, including from reducing tax fraud and seizing criminal assets.

Mrs May also compared the average £180 million-a-year cost of the plans with the annual policing bill of £14 billion.

Internet plans 'vital for catching criminals'

In contrast to Tory MP David Davis, who said the only people who will be caught "will be the innocent people and the incompetent," the Home Secretary said:

This communications data is vital for catching criminals.

If we don't do this, if that money isn't spent, then we are going to catch fewer criminals.

– Theresa May

And amid criticism from civil liberties campaigners that the Communications Bill heralds an unwarranted intrusion into people's privacy, she insisted the innocent had nothing to fear:

The only people who have anything to fear from this are the criminals.

– Theresa May

Government internet surveillance plans to cost £1.8bn

The Government is to spend £1.8 billion giving police, security services and tax officials access to details of people's phone calls, emails and internet usage.

The price tag for what critics call the "Snooper's Charter" was disclosed today as Home Secretary Theresa May published draft legislation for the contentious plans.

The costs include equipping internet and telephone companies to retain and store data on behalf of the police, the security services, the Serious Organised and Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Customs.

Tory MP: 'Snooping' proposals are 'excessive intrusion'

"It's the same proposal that Labour came up with in 2009 which at the time was lambasted by the Conservative Party for excessive intrusion into people's private affairs," says Tory MP David Davis, attacking his own Home Secretary's proposals.

"If they really think it's that important," he says, "set up a way of getting this information with a warrant."

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