Home Office Consultation on Communications Data and Data Retention

A seven-week consultation on proposed changes to the UK’s communications data retention and acquisition regime has opened.

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.

consultation, 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 regime.

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

Published: 2017-11-30T15:10:00


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