US intelligence services are said to be seeking new powers which would allow them to tap texts, emails and social networking sites as part of a bill being put to Congress next year.
Security officials claim that extremists and criminal organisations are increasingly turning to online communication methods in lieu of telephones, cutting investigators out of the information loop.
It is thought that the proposals would require all encryption messaging services such as Blackberry and Skype, which has been under the spotlight recently as governments seek data access, would be required to redesign their services in order to allow investigators to access communications where they have a warrant to do so.
Experts fear such ‘back door’ access to data could furnish hackers with an open door to formerly secure transmissions however and civil liberties campaigners have been quick to point out that security organisations have historically abused extensions of power.
In the UK authorities can examine encrypted messages in criminal investigations under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act.