Home Office trial SPYING on every web user in Britain
It has been revealed that for months, the Home Office and National Crime Agency have been trialling surveillance technology that can log and store the search history of all web users.
The government has teamed up with two internet providers to track websites visited by their customers.
If successful, the system could be rolled out across the entire United Kingdom, creating one of the most powerful mass surveillance tools in any democratic country.
These ongoing trials have been carried out in secrecy, with the Home Office not even announcing that the trial is underway and the two internet service providers (ISPs) taking part remain unnamed.
Campaigners have slammed the government for testing out 'draconian' snooping powers as a mass invasion of privacy.
Open Rights Group called the covert operation a 'staggering lack of transparency around mass data collection and retention'.
Privacy rights groups have called out the government for attempting a China-style 'crackdown', and that the move resembled George Orwell's novel 1984.
The trial was made possible by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, dubbed the 'Snooper's Charter', which was spearheaded by former Home Secretary Theresa May.
The act allows the secretary of state to make an internet provider keep their records for up to a year, with a judge's approval.
These records can include which websites their customers visit and how much data they download.
A spokesperson for the Investigatory Powers Commissioner's Office says the trial is ongoing and that it is conducting regular reviews to 'ensure that the data types collected remain necessary and proportionate'.
They add that once the trial has been fully assessed a decision will be made on whether the system will be expanded nationally.
There has been no public announcement of the trial, with industry insiders saying they are unable to talk about the technology due to security concerns.
The Home Office refused to comment on the story but accepted that a 'small scale trial' was taking place to 'determine what data might be able to be acquired'.
Data could only be acquired 'if it is necessary and proportionate to do so'.
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