David Cameron: TV crime dramas prove we need mass warrantless electronic surveillance

UK Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron says that ISPs and phone companies should be required to store records of every click you make, every conversation you have, and every place you physically move through. He says that communications companies should be required to make it impossible to keep your communications from being eavesdropped in, with mandatory back-doors.

He says we need this law because "TV crime dramas illustrated the value of monitoring mobile data."

Remember the Snooper's Charter, the 2012 UK Conservative plan to require ISPs and phone companies to retain the records of all your calls and movements, and make them available to police and government without a warrant? Home Secretary Theresa May proposed an unlimited budget to pay ISPs to help spy on you, and called people who opposed this "conspiracy theorists" and said the only people who need freedom from total, continuous surveillance were "criminals, terrorists and paedophiles."

The Snooper's Charter was killed by a rebellion from Libdem MPs, who rejected the plan. Now it's back, just as the public are starting to have a debate about electronic spying thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the extent to which our online habits are already illegally surveilled by government spies. Let's hope that the Snowden revelations — and the US government's admission that mass spying never caught a terrorist or foiled a terrorism attempt — strangles this Cameron brainchild in its cradle.

The prime minister told a parliamentary committee that gathering communications data was "politically contentious" but vital to keep citizens safe.

He said TV crime dramas illustrated the value of monitoring mobile data.

A communications data bill was dropped last year after Lib Dem objections.

The idea of the bill was to allow government access to details of who called whom, when and where – although ministers said it would not cover the content of calls.

It would also have extended laws to cover new online forms of communication, such as internet-based phone services like Skype, and there were suggestions it could also give intelligence services real-time access to the data.

David Cameron wants fresh push on communications data [Alex Hunt/BBC]