Collection of data, both as part of the Communications Data Bill and via other means is "crucial on building intelligence".
Speaking at the National Security conference in London, minister for security at the Home Office James Brokenshire said that the bill, nicknamed the 'snooper's charter', would collect the who, what, when and where of information, but not the content, and effectively be studying the envelope and not the letter inside.
He said: “It is crucial to building intelligence on those particularly on those who are intent to do harm, and it is significant as it is evidence that can be used in court. Communications data is used to uphold our freedoms rather than restrict them.”
He refused to comment directly on recent stories around secret intelligence, but did say that intelligence is "vital to our country". He also said that the ability to obtain this data was important in protecting national security and if anyone is intent on stealing intellectual property, or working in organised crime, it was key to act in a "strict legal framework".
Commenting on the combination of physical threats and those from cyber space, Brokenshire said that along with extremists and terrorists, there were "cyber fraudsters who steal our money and our data, affect our way of life, our freedom to live and privacy expectations".
He said: “This is not a new question nor is it unique to the UK, information technologies are transforming our world and creating new opportunities for business communication and more. But there are also opportunities for those who mean us harm and a new question on what is a threat and what we do in response.”
With threats to fundamental freedoms, Brokenshire said we have to keep pace with the changes.