GCHQ to monitor web history

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UK web history to be monitored

The government is planning to introduce legislation that would enable it to monitor the web history of every UK citizen, it has been revealed.

In next month's Queen's speech, a plan will be put forward in which internet companies are required to install specific hardware, according to several reports. This hardware would enable the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to monitor in real time any website accessed in the UK - as well as any phone call, text or email sent. While GCHQ would not be able to access the content of any messages without a warrant, the new rules would still give them the ability to see who people are in contact with and how regularly.

Securing the data

The idea that state officials are able to access databases showing the web history of every UK citizen is likely to spark serious data privacy concerns. Any such database would be incredibly valuable to hackers, so GCHQ would need to show that it is taking every possible measure to secure the confidentiality of the data.

Labour received intense criticism from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats when it tried unsuccessfully to introduce a similar law in 2006. Conservative MP David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, is opposed to the government's new proposals. He said: "They don't need this law to protect us. This is an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary innocent people in vast numbers. Frankly, they shouldn't have that power."

Adrian Mursec, senior web developer at theEword, commented: "The government is likely to face serious opposition to the creation of a database of web history for UK internet users. At the very least, it will need to publish full details of how it intends to secure the database from hackers who may hope to sell on the data to unscrupulous companies."