The government’s plans for a database containing details of every phone call and email in the UK could lead to British firms moving abroad, an expert has warned.

According to Ross Anderson, chair of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, the proposed database would impose huge costs on communications firms, causing them to move overseas.

Mr Anderson pointed out that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act already allows too much access to personal information and the database would “raise serious questions about third-party oversight and abuse”.

“It would be very unwise for the government to pick a huge public fight with ISPs, phone companies, web service companies, NGOs and many other interests,” Mr Anderson said.

“If [the government] won, it would impose huge costs on the online industry and make Britain an unattractive place to run any kind of communications service firm.”

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act currently gives the police the power to demand communications data from phone companies, ISPs and other data-holding companies. The extension of these powers to local council has been largely met with public outcry.

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