“My government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses.” —The Queen’s Speech, 2012
There, peeking out amongst the 19 bills announced during the Queen’s Speech a few days ago, was the worst kept secret in current discussions of legislative reform on the issue of intrusive surveillance: also called the Draft Communications Data Bill.
Whilst the details of the bill are not yet complete, the idea is to allow competent institutions—the police and intelligence agencies, but also possibly other Whitehall departments and local Government, to have real-time access to internet communications meta-data. That is, knowledge of the existence rather than the content of our emails, Facebook messages, tweets, etc. This is presumably based on the proposition that knowing how pieces of communication collectively form networks can pay dividends for security, whilst also being less intrusive than prying into their contents.