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Fears have been raised about the scale of the UK's "surveillance state" after it was revealed 1,500 requests to snoop on the public were made every day last year.
Councils, police and the intelligence services asked more than 500,000 times for approval to access private email and phone data, according to official figures.
Each request allows public authorities access to communications data - which includes records of phone, email and text messages - but not their content.
The Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the figures "beggared belief", and questioned whether so many operations were necessary.