From next year, "they" really are going to be watching you...

The Home Office has awarded local councils and health authorities the power to spy on emails and internet activities from next year.

This is part of a nationwide bid by the government to tackle terrorism and serious crime, and will include, controversially, setting up a massive database of all of our internet, phone and email activities.

The government has now detailed its plans which will involve internet service providers storing one billion incidents of data each day and storing them for a minimum of 12 months.

And the taxpayer is going to have to pay £46 million to these very same ISPs for holding this information, even though some already keep similar records for marketing purposes, adds The Times.

The plans are already attracting criticism - not least from those pointing to recent government slip-ups when civil servants have lost thousands of confidential details on UK citizens.

The shadow home secretary, Dominic Grieve, said of the so-called "Snoopers' Charter": "Yet again the Government has proved itself unable to resist the temptation to take a power quite properly designed to combat terrorism to snoop on the lives of ordinary people in everyday circumstances."

He added: "It is typical of this Government that it also intends to make the taxpayer pay extra for the privilege."

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "Ministers have proven time and time again that they are not to be trusted with sensitive data, but they seem intent on pressing ahead with this snoopers’ charter.

"We will be told it is for use in combating terrorism and organised crime but if the powers are anything to go by, it will soon be used to spy on ordinary people’s kids, pets and bins."

The Home Office, however, insists: "The directive rightly refers to atrocities in London in making the case for adopting the measures for the retention of communication data across Europe.

"For many years this valuable data has allowed investigators to identify suspects, examine their contacts, establish relationships between conspirators and place them in a specific location."

Now it has emerged, however, that the data will be accessible to the emergency services, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, every local council, health authorities, the Post Office, Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Health and Safety Executive, Food Standards Agency and even the Post Office.