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UK internet snooping won't help catch criminals

Gov't admits super database not much use

The Home Office has admitted that plans to allow public bodies to snoop through records of internet activity and VoIP calls is unlikely to help catch those behind organised crime, reports Silicon.com.

Under new proposals announced this week telecommunications companies will be required to keep records of internet activity and VoIP calls for 12 months a move that will cost the taxpayer £46m. Public bodies such as the police and health authorities will be able to request access to the information if it will help uncover criminals or threats to public safety.

However, a spokeswoman for the Home Office admitted serious criminals or terrorist organisations would be likely to disguise their communication by simply logging on using unregistered 3G dongles, third-party wi-fi networks or sending email using a secure tunnel and proxy.

"The serious criminals may be far more savvy than your normal Joe Blow and the information we collect [for them] is not going to be of the same calibre," the spokeswoman told Silicon.com.

But she said the measures would be worth it if they were to provide evidence that helped convict even one person suspected of a "serious crime".

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