Something murky is afoot in the world of government surveillance, and it threatens the basic rights and freedoms of millions of internet users in Britain and across Europe.
The UK currently holds the presidency of the European Union, and will do until the end of December. Before then, Home Secretary Charles Clarke is determined that new European legislation known as Data Retention, requiring all internet traffic to be monitored and logged, will become law.
The proposal is alarming.
If approved, it would compel telephone companies and internet service providers to keep detailed records of every phone call you make and everything you do online.
This would not mean recordings of your phone calls or a copy of every web page you view, but it would mean a record of where your phone was at any particular time, what numbers you dialed, when, and for how long. Online, it means a record of which web sites you visited, all the email addresses you send mail to, and data about every incoming email or instant message you receive.
In short, nothing less than a detailed log of almost all your electronic activity.
Things get really worrying when you look at the list of bodies who would have the right to inspect this information.
That the police and security services have the right will surprise no-one.
That the Department for Environment, Health and Rural Affairs, or the Health and Safety Executive should have the same right seems open to scrutiny.
It turns out that any body deemed "competent" by any government in any country in the world would have the right to request access to this data.
Not only would everything you do be a matter of record, it would theoretically be freely available to thousands of bodies all over the world.
Supporters of Data Retention say that it would help prevent terrorist attacks and solve or prevent many other crimes.
But even if storing such an enormous amount of data is affordable and technically feasible, the task of searching it all fast enough to make it a serious crime-busting tool would be beyond the means of today's computer technology.
Critics say the whole idea is flawed. It would cost a fortune, offer little of any practical benefit, and could be easily avoided by terrorists and criminals who wanted to keep their activities and communications secret.
Home Office officials say that the proposals are designed to bring European Union member states into line with one another.
Currently, some store some surveillance data for a limited time - this happens in the UK already - and others do not. As for the practicalities of making it work, they simply point out that more research will be needed.
EU officials are due to make a decision on this in early October.
If you think they should turn it down, you need to make your voice heard. You can use writetothem.com to contact your MP, or sign the petition at dataretentionisnosolution.com.