Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has confirmed the government is ditching the idea of a central intercept database to log all phone calls and emails sent or received by UK citizens.
Instead, internet service providers will be expected to store the data for later government use. The Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), first reported by the Reg last August, was to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on the super-database. Jacqui Smith had even found an ex-Vodafone exec, Tim Hayward, to run the project.
The burden of storing communications logs - the time, date and length of calls and emails rather than the content - will now fall on ISPs.
The Big Brother datastore has been criticised by privacy advocates. Liberty said it was a hallmark of free societies that police target criminals rather than spend time watching and monitoring the whole population.
We have a reporter at the press conference and will have more on this story shortly. ®