New ICO Statement on the Interception Modernisation Programme

August 3, 2009

On 4 August, the ICO released the following statement:

The ICO recognises the value that communications data has for the prevention and detection of crime and the prosecution of offenders. However, this in itself is not a sufficient justification for mandating the collection of all possible communications data on all subscribers by all communication service providers (CSPs).

The ICO is concerned about the distinction being made between traffic data and content data and our response also highlights that there may be gaps in the current regulatory regime that not only have the potential to affect the rights of individuals and their avenues of recourse, but also the clarity of roles and responsibility of CSPs.

Despite these concerns, the ICO is pleased that the government has rejected the idea of storing all of the proposed additional data in a single database, held by government or a central agency. The government has kept the ICO informed about the development of the Interception Modernisation Programme and we look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue on this issue.

The timing of the statement seems strange. The Home Office consultation on Protecting the public in a changing communications environment ended on 20 July. One might have expected that a steer from the ICO would have been given before that end of that period.

See for the Home Office information on the issues.