Internet service providers are legally required to keep data on user habits and usage from today. An EU directive requires all ISPs in the Union to keep records for a year of online communications.
The content of emails or Internet phone calls will not be stored, as the directive is designed to establish only whether there has been contact between suspects. This data is protected by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. A warrant will be required to see the data on connections, but civil liberty campaigners are still concerned that the information will be accessible to other public bodies and local authorities besides the police.
This legislation is precursor to a proposed but long-delayed centralised. The government reportedly plans to use such information for data mining, pre-emptively searching for suspicious patterns to identify suspects.
The BBC reports that some governments have grown a pair and stood up to the directive, with Germany mounting a legal challenge and Sweden going one better by simply ignoring it. Our government, however, has bent over backwards to embrace the measure, and agreed to reimburse ISPs on the cost. That's right, folks, not only are we being spied on but we're paying £46m for the privilege over the next eight years. Have your say in the comments -- that is, if you don't mind the government knowing all about it for 12 months.