Source : http://news.bbc.co.uk
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.
Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said the websites contained sensitive personal details and he was concerned information could leak from any government-controlled database.
The Independent newspaper quoted him as saying similar plans to store phone and email records threatened to be the "most expensive snooper's charter in history".
"It is deeply worrying that they now intend to monitor social networking sites which contain very sensitive data like sexual orientation, religious beliefs and political views," he said.
The newspaper also reported that Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer, was considering lobbying ministers over the proposal, which he described as "overkill".
Shami Chakrabarti, of campaign group Liberty, said she would be "flabbergasted" if the the police and security services were not monitoring social networking sites already and it was "permissible" on human rights grounds to examine the profile of suspects.
But what she said was unacceptable was the government storing all communications data centrally, which she said would allow them to monitor the web browsing habits of ordinary citizens.
"With websites, as opposed to traditional phone calls and e-mails and so on, the difference between what the website you're visiting and what you're doing there, is really blurred.
"I mean just by my web browsing habits, just by which sites I'm visiting, you'll be able to build up... a pretty detailed picture of who I'm associated with, perhaps what my politics is, what my religious preference is and shopping habits are.
"It's a pretty detailed bit of surveillance about a person, about all individual people, most of whom, let's be clear about it, are completely innocent."Read »