New surveillance laws allowing more wide-ranging monitoring of communications data are likely to be introduced by a new Conservative government.
The Conservatives tried several times to have the so-called 'Snoopers' Charter' passed during the last parliament, either through the official Draft Communications Data Bill or within other bills, as part of an effort to combat terrorism and online extremism.
The Lib Dems always stood against these efforts, though, and deputy leader Nick Clegg wrote in The Telegraph in 2013 that "the suggestion of blanket retention of everyone’s data goes too far".
However, now that the Conservatives are set to win a majority in the House of Commons, such laws will be passed far more easily.
Home secretary Theresa May has reportedly already confirmed the government's intention to bring such laws back to the table as soon as is reasonable.
Theresa May has confirmed government can now bring forward Communications Data bill (ie Snooper's Charter) without Lib Dems around. #GE2015— John Hyde (@JohnHyde1982) May 8, 2015
The move will give the government far more powers to force communications providers such as mobile firms and internet service providers to intercept, monitor, collect and store communications data. It will also give the security agencies more powers to access this data.
Rights groups have long complained about this, pointing to the Edward Snowden revelations of 2013 as evidence that such activities are already widespread, unjustified and illegal.
However, the government has repeatedly claimed that such measures are necessary to stop cybercrime, terrorism and extremism. A report last year criticised Facebook for not monitoring communications that led to the murder of a solider in London.
The Conservative manifesto also made plain the party's belief that such powers are important.
"We will keep up to date the ability of the police and security services to access communications data - the 'who, where, when and how' of a communication - but not its content," the manifesto said.
"Our new communications data legislation will strengthen our ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs, even as technology develops.
"We will maintain the ability of the authorities to intercept the content of suspects' communications, while continuing to strengthen oversight of the use of these powers."
A court in the US has ruled that the US National Security Agency's mass phone surveillance practices are unlawful and paved the way for a bigger, more serious legal challenge.
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