All internet activity, all conversation on instant messaging programs, and all email traffic is to be monitored and saved for eternity. That's the proposition put forward by an American congressman.

Republican Lamar Smith is proposing a change in US legislation relating to internet-related crime. According to the bill put forward to the US House of Representatives , ISPs should be forced to keep records of all online activity indefinitely. Email traffic, chats, instant messaging and internet surfing would be affected.

"A crime is still a crime, whether it occurs on the street or on the internet," said Smith, a republican congressman from Texas.

The bill, named the Safety Act, would levy fines on ISPs that failed to keep full records, while cyber-criminals could face imprisonment. The proposed penalties include 20 years' imprisonment to those who access child pornography online, and fines of $150,000 for ISPs that make accessing illicit material possible.

"In this age of increasing digital and technological sophistication, cyber-crimes and cyber-terrorism pose a serious threat to the US. Law enforcement, and the private sector must be prepared to deal with these crimes," Smith said.