Social networking sites like Facebook could be monitored by the UK government under proposals to make them keep details of users’ contacts.
The Home Office said it was needed to tackle crime gangs and terrorists who might use the sites, but said it would not keep the content of conversations.
It is part of a plan to store details of all phone calls, e-mails and websites visited on a central database.
Civil liberties campaigners have called the proposals a "snoopers’ charter".
Tens of millions of people use sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace to chat with friends, but ministers say they have no interest in the content of discussions – just who people have been talking to.
On a side note..
Phone companies are already required to store details of all calls, such as the time and date, location and who made them, for 12 months for possible use in criminal investigations or court cases.
An EU directive ordering data on internet traffic to be stored in a similar way is due to come into effect in the UK on Monday, 6 April.
The government is also considering proposals to store all communications data on a single database, which may be run by a private company.