Home Office Consultation on Communications Data and Data Retention

November 30, 2017

The government announced on 30 November that it is
consulting on new safeguards for the use of communications data. It had previously
indicated its intention to consult on these issues

which will run for seven weeks, is seeking views on amendments to the UK’s
communications data and acquisition regime in response to a judgment handed
down by the Court of Justice of the European Union in December 2016. The
consultation closes on 18 January.

The proposed changes will introduce additional safeguards to
ensure communications data can continue to be used to keep people safe from
crime and terrorism while complying with the judgment.

The new provisions include:

  •  the introduction of independent authorisation of
    communications data requests by a new body, known as the Office for
    Communications Data Authorisations, under the Investigatory Powers Commissioner
    Lord Justice Fulford
  • restricting the use of communications data to
    investigations into serious crime
  •  additional safeguards which must be taken into
    account before a Data Retention Notice can be given to a telecommunications or
    postal operator
  •  clarification of the circumstances in which
    notification of those whose communications data has been accessed can occur
  • mandatory guidance on the protection of retained
    data in line with European data protection standards

The communications data code of practice, which sets out how
the safeguards governing the retention of communications data by
telecommunications operators and its acquisition by public authorities will
operate, is also being published for consultation.

The government considers that the December 2016 judgment
does not apply to the retention or acquisition of data for national security
purposes as national security is outside the scope of EU law. Nevertheless, a
number of the proposed changes will apply to certain national security
applications for communications data to create a simpler, more practical

All the relevant documents can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/investigatory-powers-act-2016