Government could start snooping on Facebook

ISPs were forced to retain customer data such as emails last week to fight crime, and social networks could be the next in line.

The government could be ready to force social networking sites to retain user data, in a similar way that the EU now requires ISPs to hold on information on customers.

In a House of Commons General Committee discussion Vernon Coaker, Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing, was discussing the possibility of new proposals.

Coaker said that the EU Data Retention Directive did not cover social networks like Facebook and MySpace, which are growing in popularity for users to send messages to each other.

Such mediums are now commonly used for communication instead of email. This is covered by the directive as ISPs will be forced to keep records for 12 months of very email sent or received.

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An MP raised the point that, in France, it was suggested that Facebook was being used to obtain drugs, the suggestion being that social networks could be a way for criminals to communicate with each other.

Because the directive is aimed at tackling crime, he said that the government was looking at what it should do as the legislation did not cover social networks.

According to the transcript Coaker said to Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake: "I look forward to his support when we present intercept modernisation programme proposals, which may include the retention of data on Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and all similar sites."

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