The UK government is attempting to rush new surveillance regulation through Parliament that would allow emergency services continued access to phone and Internet records.
The news comes after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that powers to retain such information were under threat earlier this year.
Critics allege that the 'quick fix' is actually not a preservation of existing powers but an attempt to sneak back on to the statute book some of the controversial measures in the 'Snoopers' Charter' Data Communications Bill that failed to win support when proposed in May.
According to Prime Minister David Cameron, the ruling, that will see existing data deleted and no further collection, will “negatively impact” the country’s ability to fight criminals and terrorists.
Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg claim the emergency legislation will not be an introduction of “snooping laws,” but will just protect existing capabilities.
“This is about restoring two vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe,” claimed Cameron.
Under the proposed laws, telephony and Internet service providers will be obliged to retain “communications data” on their customers.
Data such as numbers dialled and when calls were made will be stored, but the content of calls will not.
Proponents of the legislation claim that the ability to collect and retain this data will allow the UK to effectively fight crime, terrorism and other security threats.
However, privacy campaigners have expressed concerns, claiming that that the move invades people’s privacy.
Surveillance, privacy and human rights have been under the media spotlight frequently recently – in May, Home Secretary Theresa May argued that intelligence agencies needed greater access to communications data.
“There is a reducing capability in relation to access to communications data and as far as I’m concerned I think this is a very important thing we need to ensure we are giving our law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies access to the tools that they need to fight crime, paedophiles and terrorists,” she claimed on the BBC Andrew Marr Show in May.
May’s comments were made after the “snooper’s charter” was dropped from the Queen’s Speech that month.