Plans for a centralised database of all UK communications data were put on the backburner after draft legislation failed to appear in Wednesday's Queen's speech.
The Communications Data Bill was pushed back by the Home Office to allow more consultation on the proposals next year.
There is concern the bill will allow the government to store all UK communications in a £12bn super database, with Whitehall arguing that the law needs to be updated to allow police and security services to monitor and store internet traffic in the fight against terrorism and serious crime.
The government is expected to reveal the substance of the bill in January, when it begins consultation on the bill.
The bill will also no longer fulfil an EU directive that requires the UK to demand that all ISPs store the 'who', 'what' and 'where' of all web and messaging traffic for at least 12 months. The directive, which has to be implemented by March 2009, will now be implemented separately.
A Home Office spokesman said: "The government is committed to maintaining the communications data capability and we intend to bring forward proposals to achieve this.
"We recognise however that this is a highly sensitive issue and because of that there should be sufficient time to hold a proper public debate.
"We are therefore bringing forward a consultation paper, outlining the challenges the UK faces, setting out how we believe these challenges can be overcome, and seeking views on the proposals and the safeguards proposed."