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PM and Clegg 'saying same thing'
Nick Clegg says he and David Cameron are saying 'exactly the same thing' about plans to extend the monitoring of internet communications
Nick Clegg has insisted he and David Cameron were saying "exactly the same thing" about plans to extend internet surveillance.
Coalition tensions intensified on Tuesday after the Prime Minister stressed that his Liberal Democrat deputy had been involved in formulating the proposals, pointing out Mr Clegg was "round the table" at key meetings of the National Security Council.
The Deputy Prime Minister's spokesman subsequently denied he had signed up to the plans, which could only proceed if they "protected civil liberties".
Asked whether he would block the moves - branded a "snoopers' charter" by critics - Mr Clegg said: "Myself and the Prime Minister are saying exactly the same thing, which is firstly that many of the press reports a week or two ago are wildly exaggerated about our plans - I think everyone will see that when we publish them.
"Secondly, there is simply a technological issue - people now communicate with each other through different (means), and thirdly, if we do anything in this area - and we'll show this clearly when we publish our proposals - when we do something we'll do it in a way which absolutely safeguards people's civil liberties."
The full proposals for increasing powers to monitor emails and internet communications - intended to tackle crime and terrorism - have yet to be published.
Many believe internet firms would be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ "real-time" access to emails, calls and messages without a warrant. GCHQ would not be able to view content of messages, but could identify who someone was contacting, how often and for how long, and could also access internet browsing history.
Mr Clegg has written to the National Security Council to say Lib Dems will not support separate plans to extend powers for civil courts to hear evidence in secret without changes.
Speaking to ITV1's Daybreak, he said: "There is an issue about how people now communicate with each other in a way which evades existing powers that the police have got to check who is making a call, where and when. That needs to be updated.
"It's simply a sort of technological catch-up, if you like. But it mustn't be done in a way which sacrifices our civil liberties. On that, all of us in the Government are very clear."