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Exclusive The British Government is to employ dotcoms to keep tabs on its citizens.

A pilot scheme due to be launched next month will automatically inform different Government departments when people move house or change address.

Ihavemoved.com, simplymove.co.uk and the Royal Mail - which all provide change of address services - will take part in the Net-based trial.

Until now, the problem has been that while people might inform utilities, banks and other key groups about change of address, many people forget, or delay, or refuse to tell different Government departments about their new circumstances.

The issue is further complicated because different Government departments do not currently share change of address information between themselves.

It's understood that the Government will not pay for the information during the pilot although if successful, it will have to negotiate commercial terms with the suppliers.

The initiative is part of Prime Minister Tony Blair's drive towards e-government. Those backing the scheme claim that it will make Government more effective and that farming out the service to dotcoms will also cut the cost significantly.

Those against it are concerned about people's right to privacy.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office played down concerns that the Government was acting as a "Big Brother". She said that the scheme was purely voluntary for users and they would be able to choose whether they wanted their information passed on or not.

Plans for a change of address service were outlined in October last year when the Government's Central IT Unit said it was developing a "change of address" Web site that would enable people to notify a change of address to any public service in a single electronic transaction. ®

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