Police and security chiefs will be able to scour the contents of every email sent in Britain under a £12billion plan to be unveiled tomorrow.
The programme, known as Deep Packet Inspection, will also give them the ability to eavesdrop on phone calls made over the internet.
The proposals, which will be revealed by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, come amid increasing evidence that terror groups such as those in the Mumbai attacks are using internet telephones to avoid telephone taps on landline and mobile phones.
Deep Packet Inspection: Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will reveal details of the proposal to allow police and security chiefs to scour every email and listen to phone calls made online tomorrow
Internet firms and telephone providers are already required to store details of communications using their networks for at least a year.
However, this paves the way for the content of online calls and emails also to be studied.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Home Secretary will be launching a public consultation on the way we maintain our ability to access communication data in the face of a changing world of technologies.’
Grant Gross, IDG News Service
US Lawmakers Target Deep Packet Inspection in Privacy Bill
U.S. lawmakers plan to introduce privacy legislation that would limit how Internet service providers can track their users,
Advocates of new legislation focused mainly on so-called deep packet inspection (DPI), a form of filtering that network operators can use to examine the content of packets as they travel across the Internet.
Boucher said. “Its privacy-intrusion potential is nothing short of frightening,” he added. “The thought that a network operator could track a user’s every move on the Internet, record the details of every search and read every e-mail … is alarming.”
Officials with Free Press, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) all spoke in favor of online privacy legislation. “In our view, deep packet inspection is really no different than postal employees opening envelopes and reading letters inside,” said Leslie Harris, president and CEO of CDT. “Consumers simply do not expect to be snooped on by their ISPs or other intermediaries in the middle of the network, so DPI really defies legitimate expectations of privacy that consumers have.”
there are about a dozen companies offering DPI services to ISPs, said Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press.
Privacy advocates also urged lawmakers to go beyond rules that would force ISPs to get opt-in permission from customers before tracking their online activities. In many cases, customers don’t completely understand what they’re being asked to opt into, said Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director.
“I don’t think [opt-in] is sufficient because it won’t be meaningful unless consumers understand what data about them is being collected and how it’s being used,” he said.