Britain's government is trying to push through new powers to spy on citizens by monitoring their text messages, phone calls, emails and website visits.
Ministers claim the proposals will simply "update" existing laws to reflect the increased use of social media, and say they won't have the power to access the data itself, only the record of who was contacted. But Nick Pickles, director of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, today warned that this "unprecedented step" will see Britain adopt the "same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran".
We've been here before...
This is the latest development in a much bigger story: one of governments and corporations around the world trying to grab greater powers of surveillance and censorship on the web – and citizens waging a global fightback to keep the internet free, democratic and people-powered.
The irony is that back in 2009 Britain's Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties loudly opposed the Labour government's failed bid to push through similar measures. Now they are in power, they are trying to do just the same: but once again, if the message is clear enough, they will have to back down.
The government has suffered a series of PR disasters in the recent weeks and is desperate to avoid another; and already, leading members of prime minister David Cameron's own party have sharply criticised the plans.
Take action: Let's seize this moment and make our voices heard. Vote in this Guardian poll to express your concern about the new plans, and support the British human rights group Liberty in its campaigns against state invasions of privacy.