Internet firms resist ministers’ plan to spy on every e-mail

David Leppard writes in the Sunday Times:

Internet firms have condemned the government’s “Big Brother” surveillance plans as an “unwarranted” intrusion into people’s privacy.

The companies, which ministers are relying on to implement the scheme, also say the government has misled the public about how far it plans to go in monitoring internet use.

The criticism, contained in a private submission to the Home Office, threatens to derail the £2 billion project, which ministers claim is essential to combat terrorism and crime.

The submission in question is a consultation response from the London Internet Exchange:

However, the submission — by the London Internet Exchange, which represents more than 330 firms including BT, Virgin and Carphone Warehouse — said: “We view the description of the government’s proposals as ‘maintaining’ the capability as disingenuous: the volume of data the government now proposes [we] should collect and retain will be unprecedented, as is the overall level of intrusion into the privacy of citizenry.

“This is a purely political description that serves only to win consent by hiding the extent of the proposed extension of powers for the state.”