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House Of Lords Passes Law Expanding Retention Of Communications Data

by Robin Pilgrim, LawAndTax-News.com, London

19 November 2003


Privacy groups in the United Kingdom have condemned the passing in the House of Lords last Thursday of the so-called 'Snooper's Charter', which allows various public authorities to access communications data on UK citizens for a period of up to 12 months.

The communications information on customers which must now be retained by ISPs and other telecommunications companies includes subscriber details, billing information, personal details, and location information.

The legislation is part of a package of measures introduced after the September 11 attacks, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act. However, the data may be accessed by a number of public bodies not involved in anti-terrorism activities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

The new laws were strongly opposed by many in the House of Lords, but a reversal by Liberal Democrats meant that they were eventually passed on Thursday.

However, two additional motions were also approved by the upper house. The first will oblige the Interception of Communications Commissioner to inform UK citizens if their privacy has been improperly invaded, and the second will require the government to reveal to Parliament the extent of overseas access to personal communications data.


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