The government has denied that its 'Mastering the Internet' (MTI) project, which includes the development of technology to track emails and telephone calls in the UK, is an attempt at snooping.
The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) admitted it was developing technology that could track emails and calls as part of a £1bn project but that said that it had only been created to keep pace with developments in internet technology and not to 'spy' on the UK public.
"GCHQ is not developing technology to enable the monitoring of all internet use and phone calls in Britain, or to target everyone in the UK. Similarly, GCHQ has no ambitions, expectations or plans for a database or databases to store centrally all communications data in Britain," the agency said.
"We must reinvest continuously to keep up with the methods that are used by those who threaten the UK and its interests. Just as our predecessors at Bletchley Park mastered the use of the first computers, today, partnering with industry, we need to master the use of internet technologies and skills that will enable us to keep one step ahead of the threats. This is what mastering the internet is about."
"The new technology that GCHQ is developing is designed to work under the existing legal framework. Interception for other purposes is not lawful and we do not do it... GCHQ only acts when it is necessary and proportionate to do so; GCHQ does not spy at will," the agency added.