Technology firms will be required to keep records of the websites and apps which people have used and details of when they accessed them for 12 months under new powers unveiled this week.
The new powers, contained in legislation which is published on Wednesday, will primarily be used by police and the security services in pursuit of suspected terrorists and serious criminals.
They will not be allowed to see which pages people have viewed or their searches while on the websites and apps, or the content of any messages, without a warrant.
However, The Telegraph understands that a total of 38 bodies will also be entitled to access the records for the purpose of “detecting or preventing crime”.
A government source said that access will be “limited, targeted and strictly controlled” and overseen by a new Investigatory Powers Commissioner.
Ministers are also planning to introduce a new offence to deter the abuse of powers which will result in significant fines. Councils will also be required to get requests signed off by a magistrate before they are authorised.
However David Davis, a senior Conservative MP, warned that the wider access to the information was potentially “dangerous” and could lead to abuse.
Town halls were granted permission to access private communications data 2,110 times last year, more than GCHQ and MI6 combined.
Mr Davis said: “It is a serious amount of information. I don’t think that the British public want councils to have access to this.”
Ministers have abandoned several of the most controversial elements of the so-called “snoopers’ charter” in an attempt to persuade Labour and Tory rebels to back the plans.
However Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is likely to face significant opposition if she refuses to give judges, rather than ministers, the power to sign off interception warrants.
According to reports, Mrs May is considering a “two stage” approval process in which ministers are responsible for the initial decision to sign off surveillance warrants, a decision which then has to be approved by a senior judge.
Both David Davis, a senior Conservative MP, and Keir Starmer, the shadow home affairs minister, said that judges should be involved in the decision from the “get go”.
Mr Davis suggested that without full judicial authorisation Mrs May would struggle to get the bill through both the Commons and the Lords.
It came after Mrs May insisted that the government has abandoned plans to allow police to access people’s full browsing history.
Internet companies will instead be required to record details of the websites which people have visited and the apps they have used, with the time they have accessed them.
The authorities will be able to see which websites were visited, but not the exact page that hey viewed.
The intelligence agencies, police and the National Crime Agency will be the most prolific users of the new powers.
But other bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, councils, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Work and Pensions will be able to access the information.
Mrs May told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show: “As people move into the digital age they no longer always communicate on telephone, they communicate over the internet.
“So, what we’re talking about is just knowing that first step, that who has been contacted [by whom] or did this particular device access WhatsApp at 13.10 or Facebook at 14.05 – it doesn’t go beyond that.
“It’s precisely this area of catching paedophiles and dealing with child abuse that is precisely one of the reasons why we want this ability to look at these internet connection records.”
Mrs May also confirmed that authorities will not be given new powers to limit encryption used by the biggest technology companies, despite previous suggestions by David Cameron that they could.[“source-telegraph”]