A private company could run the government's controversial billion pound database, the BBC reports.

The management of the database, that is to contain details of everybody in the UK's telephone calls, emails and internet use, could go out for tender, according to a consultation paper to be published next month.

The database, which could cost up to £12 billion to create, is highly controversial with many privacy groups and experts speaking out against the plans.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The communications revolution has been rapid in this country and the way in which we collect communications data needs to change so that law enforcement agencies can maintain their ability to tackle serious crime and terrorism".