THE Government has laid out its ideas for a proposed voluntary code to govern how communication firms handle calls, e-mails and web access.

Information about subscribers, including names, addresses, dates of birth, should all be retained for a year, it said.

Phone companies should keep records for a year on date and time of calls, and in the case of mobiles, the location of the user, said the Home Office paper.

Internet activity, such as the address of web sites visited, should be kept for four days.

The paper gained prominence last year when Home Secretary David Blunkett was accused of snooping on the public.

The regulations had come about after security fears were raised following the September 11 terrorist attacks, but he eventually recalled the plans.

This week's paper stressed the importance of such data in the war on terror.

In the year after September 11 there had been more than 10,000 requests for data linked with terrorism.

If the industry cannot agree on a voluntary code the Government would look to making this kind of data retention compulsory, said officials.