Leaked documents show plans for live surveillance of web users

A paper allegedly leaked to civil liberties body the Open Rights Group has suggested that the government is considering the ‘live’ surveillance of British web users’ internet communications.

The consultation on the paper, which includes plans to ask phone companies and internet service providers to provide data within one working day, is due to end on 19 May

Such access would need to be sanctioned by secretaries of state and a judge appointed by the prime minister.

According to reports, the paper also recommended that tech companies could be required to remove - or enable the removal - of encryption from communications as they would need to be provided ‘in an intelligible form’ without ‘electronic protection’.

However, the idea of enabling this process has been highly criticised by campaigners who have argued that it could be exploited by hackers and endanger innocent users.

In an interview with the BBC, Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group said: “The public has a right to know about government powers that could put their privacy and security at risk .

"It seems very clear that the Home Office intends to use these to remove end-to-end encryption - or more accurately to require tech companies to remove it.

"I do read the regulations as the Home Office wanting to be able to have near real-time access to web chat and other forms of communication.”