The UK government is planning to use a private company to run its proposed database of every phone call, text, email and web site visit.
In a proposal from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the task of collecting and maintaining the records would be given to a private firm in order to reduce costs.
The proposal also suggests tough legal penalties if the data is misused, according to a report in The Guardian.
However, the proposals have come in for strong criticism, not least from Sir Ken Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions.
"This database would be an unimaginable hell-house of personal private information," he said. "It would be a complete readout of every citizen's life in the most intimate and demeaning detail. No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls."
The government is planning to build the database to help in criminal investigations. Currently service providers hold the details of their customers, but the government has deemed this too inefficient and plans to spend £12bn on a new combined database.
"The tendency of the state to seek ever more powers of surveillance over its citizens may be driven by protective zeal. But the notion of total security is a paranoid fantasy which would destroy everything that makes living worthwhile," said Macdonald.
"We must avoid surrendering our freedom as autonomous human beings to such an ugly future. We should make judgements that are compatible with our status as free people."
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