British proposal may force ISPs to fork over online activity

he British Home Office is considering a proposal that would require British ISPs and telecoms to surrender records of customer emails, internet use, VOIP calls, and text messages.

The ruling, if passed, would avail mobile information and internet use, including emails, to police and security forces with permission from courts.

Reuters says the data will "help security forces in the fight against crime and terrorism."

Currently, phone calls and text messages are kept for 12 months by telecoms, part of an EU anti-terrorism ruling. Search engines typically keep records of user activity, or "cookies," for 18 months.

The proposal was dubbed the Communications Data Bill. A draft is slated for release later this year, and it is likely to raise civil rights and privacy issues.

Google was recently critiqued for providing the information of an Orkut user to the Indian government. The data enabled the government to imprison that user for defaming a political figure.

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