From March, ISPs will be required to store details about every email sent and received, for one year.

The new rules, which will come into force on March 15, will fulfill the terms of the European Data Retention Directive, the Home Office said. It added that ISPs won't be required to store information on the contents of the emails but that the records will be made available to any public body that requires access to them during criminal proceedings.

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It is thought the scheme could cost ISPs in the region of £75m and will be separate to the government's planned 'super database' that will detail every call, text message, email and website visit. The EU has suggested the government should be responsible for some of the funding for the new scheme.

However, the new rules regarding email data retention have raised a number of privacy concerns. Last year, in the UK's privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioners Office, said: "It is likely that such a scheme would be a step too far for the British way of life".

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