The Conservative government in the UK has decided that it is vital that phone and internet companies log records of customer calls, texts and internet use. The government is going to bring in emergency legislation because it thinks that the problem needs fixing.
Part of the problem is that the UK government has been forcing ISPs and phone companies to log records already, but has just discovered that it has been doing so illegally. Tragically, in a sign that UK people don’t care, none of the opposition parties can see any mileage in stopping the bill going ahead. Labour is backing the emergency legislation after all-party talks agreed that this law would enshrine existing rights and not be used to extend them by re-introducing the so-called "snoopers charter".
A special cabinet is being held to agree the planned laws, which will only last until 2016.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will tell a special cabinet meeting on Thursday that emergency legislation is necessary to keep the country safe. A recent ruling of the European Court of Justice has removed the obligation on telecoms companies to retain records of when and who their customers have called, texted and emailed.
It is not all grim though, the emergency law will bring about the creation of a new Quango called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to examine the impact of the law on privacy and civil liberties. It will force a review of the controversial RIPA - Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the government has promised to have annual transparency reports on how these powers are used.
The law will include a so-called sunset clause - ensuring that these powers will die in 2016 - so there will be a longer and wider debate about what replaces them.