The Home Office in the UK is going to ask communication service providers to retain records of who is in touch with who on the Internet. This applies mainly to social networking sites, e.g. Facebook and Twitter. Powers of intercept already exist for telephone communcations, and according to the government need to be extended to the Internet. This would be primarily in the fields of combating crime and safeguarding national security. The content of the actual conversation would not be divulged to the police or security services.
I believe that there is a distinct difference between phone tapping and monitoring internet traffic. Phone tapping is directed against one specific telephone connection; the above described proposals can be compared to the retention of DNA samples from anyone arrested, even if they were not subsequently charged or, following a trial, acquitted. This proposed policy goes one step further, in that any contact on the internet can be monitored without limitation - whether an offence has been committed or not, and whether national security is seen to be at stake or not.
I realise that there is a genuine case for monitoring internet traffic in combating crime and safeguarding national security. But this is an intrusion into people's privacy, and we all want to be able to be in touch with whoever we wish, without the state peeping over our shoulders. I hope that proper safeguards will be in place to ensure our privacy.