Woolwich: Powers to monitor internet use back on agenda
Home Secretary will push again for 'snooper's charter' after Liberal Democrats vetoed policy
The Woolwich murder will be used by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to revive plans for a "snooper's charter", allowing police and security services to monitor internet use, Conservative sources indicated tonight.
Ms May was furious when Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, vetoed the inclusion of the contentious scheme in this month's Queen's Speech on the grounds that it was disproportionate and an invasion of privacy.
She faced demands from senior figures in all parties to strengthen the powers of the police and security services after Wednesday's killing of an off-duty soldier.
David Cameron and Tory ministers insisted they would not rush into "knee-jerk" legislation while feelings were running high, but they are preparing to return to the scheme before the next election.
The move would divide the Coalition as the Liberal Democrats are strongly opposed to the Communications Data Bill, which is on hold.
A senior Tory told The Independent: "The Home Secretary is very keen to do something shortly that includes at least some of this Bill. I suspect any opportunity to strengthen pressure on the naysayers will be taken. She is absolutely determined to do something."
Under Ms May's plans, internet service providers would have to store data about website visits, emails, mobile calls and messages on social media and Skype. The information would cover the time, duration and recipient of messages, but not their contents.
The Home Secretary insisted the moves would help to monitor terrorists who were turning to sophisticated technology to escape detection. A Home Office source said: "It's a simple idea about giving the authorities the tools to keep track of pretty clever people. When people understand what's being proposed, it's hard to object."
Security sources acknowledged it was unclear whether the Bill's proposed powers would have thwarted the Woolwich attack and signalled their wariness over being used for "political purposes".
But they said that greater access to contacts between terror suspects would be useful in the early stages of an investigation and to collect evidence to secure a conviction.
Senior Tories insist that talks are continuing within the Coalition over the Bill's fate and that Liberal Democrat objections can be overcome. But a spokesman for Mr Clegg said: "There are already substantial powers in place to track the communications of criminals and terrorists." And a Liberal Democrat source warned that the Deputy Prime Minister would face "open revolt" from his party's grassroots if the Bill was revived.
Calls for the extension of email and internet monitoring powers were led by Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terror laws, who is a Liberal Democrat peer. "We must ensure the police and the security services have for the future the tools they need … to prevent this kind of attack taking place," he said.
Lord Reid, the former Home Secretary, said mobile phone data had been crucial in saving 2,500 lives by foiling a plot in 2006 to blow up airliners using liquid explosives. But he added: "Now people have moved on from mobile phones to internet, email, text, Skype. We don't have the means of doing what we did six years ago."
Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, warned of the "dangers of rushing forward policy changes when the nation is in shock and of those who seek to use the politics of fear".
Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
General election live: Russell Brand endorses Labour (except in Scotland and Brighton)
How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'