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government scraps email 'super database'

Plans for a super-database of all phone calls, emails and internet use in Britain have been cancelled, following public outcry against the proposals.

Home secretary, Jacqui Smith cancelled the plans, acknowledging that the public was "rightly concerned" about the original proposals. She said the government will monitor the communications in other ways.

Communications companies such as BT, Virgin Media, O2 and others will record all contacts, under new proposals which include Facebook and Twitter usage, but not the content of messages or calls.

Communications firms will be obliged to retain and structure all the data for up to 12 months and hand it to the police when required. This will enable the police to link suspicious activity to specific users, PCs and mobile devices.

Around £2 billion of taxpayer money will be spent on the new plans.

Temprorary assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and head of the Police Central e-Crime Unit, Janet Williams, supported the proposals. She said communications data was "integral" to solving crime, as it enabled the police to see how co-conspirators were linked.

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