Routine journeys carried out by millions of British motorists can be monitored by authorities in the United States and other enforcement agencies across the world under anti-terrorism rules introduced discreetly by Jacqui Smith.
On July 17th 2007 Miss Smith made a staement to Parliment detailing the exemptions for police from the 1998 Data Protection Act. She announced that British anti-terrorism police could access "real time" images from cameras used in the running of London's congestion charge.
However she did not mention other changes that would permit material to be sent outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to the authorities in the US and elsewhere.
A special certificate signed by the home secretary less than two weeks previously
A spokesman for Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, confirmed that the certificate had been worded so that the images of private cars, as well as registration numbers, could be sent outside to countries such as the USA.
Last night, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "This confirms that this Government is happy to hand over potentially huge amounts of information on British citizens under the catch-all pretext of 'national security'."