Seanad debates

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2009: Committee and Remaining Stages


11:00 am

Photo of Peter PowerPeter Power (Limerick East, Fianna Fail)

I understand the purpose of the proposed amendment, namely, to ensure data are not deleted immediately at the end of the retention period. The objective of the amendment is catered for in the Bill in a slightly different but equally valid manner. Under section 4(1)(d), data retained for the purposes of the Bill must be destroyed by the service providers at the end of the specified retention periods. There is an exception where data have been accessed and preserved as a result of a disclosure request, as provided for under section 6. The amendment seeks to add data which are the subject of a request by law enforcement authorities.

The amendment is unnecessary for two reasons. First, section 4(1)(d) imposes an obligation to destroy data that have been retained under section 3, namely, data that would have been the subject of a request under section 6, in other words, data that have been accessed and preserved. Therefore, the objective the amendment seeks to achieve is catered for. Second, retained data must be destroyed by the service providers after two years in respect of telephony data and 12 months in respect of Internet data.

As I indicated, extensive discussions and a series of consultations took place between the Department of Justice and Law Reform, the Garda Síochána and service providers. During the discussions the question arose as to what would happen in the case of last minute requests for data, for example, a request made one hour before data were due to be destroyed and they could not be disclosed in the short time available. I was assured that this occurred rarely, if ever, under the existing arrangements. Nonetheless, it was considered prudent to cater for such an eventuality.

With these concerns in mind, section 4(1)(d) provides for a grace period of one month after the retention period has expired for data to be destroyed. This allows sufficient time to arrange for the destruction of data and any late requests within a specified time for the data to be disclosed. Both the service providers and law enforcement authorities have expressed satisfaction with this arrangement. If it deals adequately with the intent of the amendment, it is not necessary to include the amendment in the Bill.


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