Britain to launch nationwide spying project

October 5th, 2008 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 5 (IANS) The British government will spend up to 12 billion pounds ($21.31 billion) to create a database to monitor and store Internet browsing, e-mails and telephone calls of very Briton, the Sunday Times reported.The government has already allocated its communications headquarters (GCHQ) one billion pounds ($1.77 billion) to finance the first stage of the project, being launched, it said, to fight terrorism and rising crime.

The Home Office said no formal decision had been taken but sources confirmed there was a general agreement on the programme.

Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor Internet browsing, e-mails and telephone calls live on two of the country’s biggest Internet and mobile phone providers - British Telephone (BT) and Vodafone. BT has nearly five million Internet customers.

But the enormity of the spying has made critics ask if a system as vast could really be kept secure. Last year some 57 billion text messages were sent in the country.

At that rate, officials will have to monitor 1,800 texts every second.

Shadow home secretary, Dominic Grieve said: “Any suggestion of the government using existing powers to intercept communications data without public discussion is going to sound extremely sinister.”

Till date MI5 conducts limited e-mail and website intercepts approved under specific warrants by the home secretary.

Further details of the new plan will be unveiled next month in the queen’s speech.

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