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UK Government Urged To Scrap Data Retention Laws

by Robin Pilgrim, LawAndTax-News.com, London

23 December 2003


A cross-party parliamentary committee has urged the UK government to go back to the drawing board with regard to its data retention laws.

Following a recent meeting, the nine privy counsellors agreed that the police and government need to be able to access communications traffic data (such as the origin and destination of e-mails, and the times and locations of telephone calls), but expressed concerns over the number of government agencies permitted to access the data for non-terrorism related purposes once it has been retained by ISPs and telecoms firms.

The committee argued that the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act does not "provide a sound legislative basis for the retention of communications data because, no matter whether the retention requirements are implemented by a voluntary code or by a mandatory order, the legality of access to that data for purposes unrelated to national security remains contentious".

In addition to recommending that data retention should come under mainstream rather than anti-terrorism legislation, and that communications data should be retained for clearly defined serious crime and terrorism prevention purposes, the panel also suggested that data should be retained for a maximum of one year, that the Information Commissioner should oversee the retention and access process, and that a coherent legislative framework should be created to govern the retention of, and access to, data.


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