British authorities on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to log details about every Web visit, email, phone call or text message in the U.K. -- and in a sharply-worded editorial the nation's top law enforcement official accused those worried about the surveillance program of being either criminals or conspiracy theorists.
The government insists it's not after content. It promises not to read the body of emails or eavesdrop on phone calls without a warrant. But the surveillance proposed in the government's 118-page draft bill would provide authorities a remarkably rich picture of their citizens' day-to-day lives, tracking nearly everything they do online, over the phone, or even through the post.
All that data would be kept for up to a year -- ready for browsing whenever anyone in authority wanted it. In some cases, the bill envisages monitoring the information in real time.
Home Office Secretary Theresa May said in an editorial published ahead of the bill's unveiling that only evil-doers should be frightened.
"Our proposals are sensible and limited," she wrote in The Sun, the country's top-selling daily. "They will give the police and some other agencies access to data about online communications to tackle crime, exactly as they do now with mobile phone calls and texts. Unless you are a criminal, then you've nothing to worry about from this new law..."