The government is facing pressure over recently announced plans which would allow British intelligence officers and law enforcement agencies to monitor the telephone and internet use of the country.

It was announced earlier this week that proposals are in place, which would see internet companies hand over real time monitoring capabilities to intelligence agency GCHQ, in a move which the government has said would allow police and security bodies the ability to track down criminals and terrorists – although the government have stressed that the law wouldn’t allow for the reading of people’s emails at will.

The plans, were first introduced as the Interception Modernisation Programme four years ago, and were resurrected last year as the Communications Capabilities Development Programme.

However they have come under fierce criticism from Ministers and activists, with Conservative MP, David Davis calling the plans an “unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people.”

The data protection watchdog has also pressed for “limitations and safeguards” should the proposals come into force, with a spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s office, saying: “The Information Commissioner’s role in this Home Office project, both under this government and the last, has been to press for the necessary limitations and safeguards to mitigate the impact on citizens’ privacy.

“We will continue to seek assurances, including the implementation of the results of a thorough Privacy Impact Assessment.

“Ultimately, the decision as to whether to proceed with the project is one which has to be taken by Parliament.”