The government has done a U-Turn on plans to create a giant database that would contain records of every email, SMS and every UK citizen's internet activity.

The controversial project was immediately castigated by privacy campaigners, who pointed out that the project was fraught with problems.

Now, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has gone back to the drawing board, admitting that a central store is no longer on the agenda.

Tools of the trade

"It is essential that the police and other crime-fighting agencies have the tools they need to do their job," said Smith.

"However, to be clear, there are absolutely no plans for a single central store.

"There were two elements that I think people could be concerned about. One was the state holding the data. The other was the data all being concentrated in one place.

"It is to overcome those concerns about privacy that the proposal involves Communication Service Providers retaining the data that comes from them and passes across their networks."

Liberty versus security

The government has already been heavily criticised for bringing in powers for police under the banner of preventing terrorism that infringe on civil liberties.

Privacy and liberty campaigners who have been apoplectic about changes which they suggest have been made in the interest of the fight against terrorism.

As former US President Benjamin Franklin said in the 18th century: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."