The government’s Communications Data Bill has come under scrutiny by civil liberties campaigners.
If enforced, the bill would make telecoms companies store details of internet users activites to help combat crime.
Although Home Secretary Theresa May has stressed that the data will not be held on a single database, security experts have warned the committee examining the bill that it would operate like a giant virtual database with the ability to snoop on internet users activities.
The Communications Data Bill was published in draft earlier this year and is currently being examined by a committee consisting of MPs and peers.
The civil liberties groups giving evidence to the committee have suggested that the filtering system for the bill could potentially be used to mount ‘fishing expeditions’.
The ‘request filter’ will allow police, tax inspectors, the security services and other officials to sift through information about a suspect’s internet browsing habits and mobile phone records.
Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: "The filtering provisions are so broadly worded and so poorly drafted that it could allow mining of all the data collected, without any requirement for personal information, which is the very definition of a fishing trip."
Rachel Robinson, policy officer for Liberty, added: "The blanket retention of data about individuals as opposed to targeted surveillance, with which we have no problem, should not be a feature of a liberal society."
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