The Liberal Democrats are calling for tighter controls on surveillance powers for authorities including councils and the police.
The demand follows the publication of the annual report by the Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Paul Kennedy.
The Lib Dems says the report shows more than 500,000 requests to access phone and e-mail records were made in 2008.
An average of about 1,500 surveillance requests were made every day in Britain last year, the annual equivalent to one in every 78 adults being targeted.
It included 1,500 approved applications from councils.
Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: “Many of these operations carried out by the police and security services are necessary, but the sheer numbers are daunting.”
Mr Huhne says only a magistrate should be able to approve a request for surveillance, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).
The Home Office said the powers should be used only when “proportionate”.
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