UK Government wants to monitor Facebook users

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UK Government wants to monitor Facebook users

The UK government is considering monitoring communications on social networking sites, ministers have revealed.

The recent introduction to UK law of the EU Data Retention Directive means that ISPs are now required to keep information on email and internet use.

But home officer minister Vernon Coaker told a Commons committee yesterday that social networking sites, such as MySpace or Bebo, are not covered by the new laws.

"That is one reason why the Government is looking at what we should do about the intercept modernisation programme because there are certain aspects of communications which are not covered by the directive," he said.

Around 25 million people in the UK – almost half the population – are estimated to use social networking sites, with Facebook boasting 17 million British users alone.

Coaker acknowledged that the idea was a controversial one.

"I accept this is an extremely difficult area. The interface between retaining data, private security and all such issues of privacy is extremely important," he said.

"It is absolutely right to point out the difficulty of ensuring we maintain a capability and a capacity to deal with crime and issues of national security and where that butts up against issues of privacy."

The Government is still consulting on a proposed database of all email and phone communications in the UK.
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