Further to yesterday’s story, the government has now published emergency legislation to continue the data retention regime. The emergency bill has cross-party backing. Liberal-Democrat support appears to have come at a price: not only does the emergency bill fail to advance any of the controversial provisions of the draft Communications Data Bill, but it also includes a two-year sunset clause. Meanwhile, the government has committed to a fundamental review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and to establish a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
Other key aspects of the emergency bill include:
- The scope of the data to be retained is the same as that covered by the Data Retention Directive, although the Secretary of State will have the power to alter this by secondary legislation.
- The government will continue to reimburse operators for their costs
- Providers will only have to retain data when given a notice requiring them to do so (as was the case under the UK implementation of the Data Retention Directive, but nowhere else in Europe).
- The government is creating new powers for the extra-territorial application of existing powers to compel operators to intercept communications, to maintain an interception capability and to disclose communications data.
- Powers to intercept communications and obtain communications data on the grounds of “the economic well-being of the UK” are being narrowed, so that they can only be used where the economic issue is such that it is relevant to the interests of national security.
The government has also said it will reduce the number of public authorities who have powers to obtain access to communications data under RIPA.