The government is backing EU plans to extend the state's power to snoop at private emails.

Under the proposals, all email communications will have to be retained by ISPs for a seven-year period.

"Only people who have something to hide should be worried," said a spokesperson at the Department of Trade and Industry. "The government will only have cause to browse emails if they have their suspicions about a user. They simply don't have the time or money to check every email sent."

The proposals were revealed in a leaked EU report earlier this week.

But Human Rights groups are enraged by the proposals claiming they breach a fundamental right to privacy.

Having already campaigned against RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act), which gives government the right to demand encryption codes, protestors are now infuriated these powers may be extended.

"This was meant to strike a balance," said a press officer for the EC. "Governments need maximum powers to catch cyber criminals, but there will always be people who are unhappy."

The European Union's Justice and Home Affairs Committee will consider the proposals on 28 May.