Thursday, 12 October 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
98. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the findings of a review (details supplied) of the law on retention of and access to communications data; the steps he plans to take to on foot of this report other than measures included in the proposed Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43359/17]
On 3 October 2017 I published the report of Mr. Justice John L. Murray’s Review of the Law on Retention of and Access to Communications Data. The report is available on my Department's website.
While the Review was initially commissioned to look at issues concerning access by statutory bodies to communications data of journalists held by communications service providers, Mr. Justice Murray also undertook a very detailed analysis of the law in this area including recent and significant judgments of the European Court of Justice.
I thank Mr. Justice Murray for his work on the review which, I would note, he carried out pro bono. His report provides very valuable advice in this complex and dynamic area of the law.
The Deputy will be aware that on 3 October I also published the general scheme of a Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2017. This proposal for new legislation responds to recent judgments of the European Court of Justice and will update the current law in Ireland. In particular, the Deputy will note that I propose to provide for prior judicial authorisation in all cases where State agencies seek access to communications data in the context of investigations into serious crime and safeguarding the security of the State.
I have written to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality to ask it to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill and I have also forwarded Mr. Justice Murray's report to the Committee in this context. I look forward to the outcome of the Committee’s considerations in this matter in the context of bringing forward the proposals for legislation in this area.