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Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011

Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011

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Published by TJ McIntyre
This is an article by Ronan Lupton, barrister and chairman of the Irish telecoms industry group ALTO, on the effect of the new Irish Data Retention Act.
This is an article by Ronan Lupton, barrister and chairman of the Irish telecoms industry group ALTO, on the effect of the new Irish Data Retention Act.

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Published by: TJ McIntyre on Mar 25, 2011
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1
Communications(RetentionofData)Act2011(No.3of2011)
RonanLuptonBL
*
Introduction
TheCommunications(RetentionofData)Act2011(“theAct”)cameintoforceon26January2011.ItisintendedtogiveforcetotheEUDataRetentionDirective
1
(the“Directive”),whichprovidesfortheretentionofcertaincommunicationsdata.Italsoprovidesforaccesstothatdataforthepurposesofthepreventionofseriousoffences,thesafeguardingofthesecurityoftheStateandthesavingofhumanlife.TheDirective,asamendedhasbeenpartiallyinforcesince2006.Theterroristattacksof11September2001intheUnitedStates,alongwiththoseinMadridandLondonin2004and2005,increasedpressureforaharmonisedapproachtomandatedstorageofcommunicationsdatathroughouttheEuropeanUnion.IthadbeenthoughtthattheDirectivecouldbeimplementedbywayofStatutoryInstrument,whichisthemechanismtypicallyemployedfortransposingEUDirectives.ThiswasduetotakeplaceinNovember2008.However,thisoptionranintodifficultywithArticle29.4.10
°
oftheConstitution,whichhasbeenheldtopreventimplementationofEUlawthatmayhaveanimpactonCriminalJusticebywayofStatutoryInstrument.
2
Strictlyspeaking,theDirectiveonlyrequirestheretentionofdataandinnowaydoesitmandatethedisclosureofretaineddata.
3
TheseconstitutionaldifficultiesmayexplaintheAttorneyGeneral’sadviceinfavouroftransposingtheDirectivebyprimaryratherthansecondarylegislation.
ThepurposeofthisarticleistoexplaintopractitionersthebackgroundtotheAct,aswellassomeoftheissuesthatmayariseincivilandcriminalcourts,in
*
TheauthorisamemberoftheDepartmentofJusticeInternetSafetyAdvisoryCommittee–ISAC,chairpersonofthetelecommunicationsindustrygroupstheInternetServiceProvidersAssociationofIreland–ISPAI,andtheAssociationofLicensedTelecommunicationsOperators–ALTO,andacknowledgesthecommentsandinputsfromKaroleCuddihyBL,RayMotherwayBL,MatthewPeakeofVerizonLegalandExternalAffairsandTJMcIntyre,SolicitorandLecturerinMediaLawatUniversityCollegeDublinSchoolofLaw.
1
DirectiveNo.2006/24/ECoftheEuropeanParliamentandoftheCouncilof15March2006,O.J.No.L10513.04.2006,p.54
2
Seecases:MeaghervMinisterforAgriculture[1994]1IR329;LawlorvMinisterforAgriculture[1990]1IR356;GreenvMinisterofAgriculture[1990]2IR17;MahervMinisterforAgriculture[2001]2IR139;BrownevIreland[2003]Vol.3IR205.Notealsos.3oftheEuropeanCommunitiesAct1972.
3
NotedecisionoftheCypriotSupremeCourtinrelationtothisdated1February2011findingtheDirectiveunconstitutionalhttp://www.edri.org/edrigram/number9.3/data‐retention‐un‐lawful‐cyprus
 
2investigating,prosecutingandlitigatingmatterspertainingtotheconvergingworldsoftelecommunicationsandtheInternet.
BackgroundandPreviousPositiononDataStorage
PriortotheActbecominglawon26January2011,
4
communicationsserviceproviderswereobligedbylawtostoretelecommunicationsrecordsforaperiodofthreeyears.ThisobligationstemmedfromPart7ofthe
CriminalJustice(TerroristOffences)Act2005.
5
The2005ActhadbeenenactedonfootofvariousconcernsinrelationtosubversiveactivityinIrelandandabroad,includingtheOmaghbombingof1998.ThoseeventswereonlyrecentlyadjudicateduponinNorthernIrelandbyWeirJ.inthecaseof
TheQueenvSeanHoey 
.
6
ThecasedealtprimarilywithDNAevidence,howeverboththegovernmentandlawenforcementagencieswereconvincedthatthewarningcallsmade,andindeedthebombsthemselves,mayhavebeendetonatedbypre‐paidmobiletelephones,usingsignalssentovertelephonenetworks.Historically,EircomLimited,theincumbentStatetelecommunicationsmonopoly,wastheonlyoperatorwithalegalobligationtoretaintelephonecallrecorddata.Thatobligationstemmedfroms.110(1)ofthePostalandTelecommunicationsServicesAct1983,whichrequiredtelecommunicationsproviderstoretaintelecomtrafficdataforathree‐yearperiod,forthepurposeoffacilitatingrequestsfromAnGardaSíochánaandfromtheDefenceForces.
7
InApril2002,thethenMinisterforPublicEnterprise,MaryO’RourkeissuedsecretdirectionsintendedtocircumventtheDataProtectionAct1988andtheTelecomsPrivacyDirective,
8
requiringalltelecommunicationsproviderstoretainalltrafficdataforaperiodofthreeyears.
9
Thisactedtowidenthescopeofthe1983ActtonewentrantprovidersinIreland.Thesupposedpowertomakesuchadirectionwasalsocontainedins.110ofthePostalandTelecommunicationsServicesAct,1983,whichprovidesthattelecomoperatorsmaybedirected
“todo(orrefrainfromdoing)anythingwhich[theMinister]mayspecifyfromtimetotimeasnecessaryinthenationalinterest”.
Ifinconferringsuchanapparentlyunfettereddiscretion,s.110wouldappeartobeinbreachoftheIrishConstitution’sprohibitionondelegationoflegislativepowersbeyond
4
ActNumber3of2011
5
Part7Sections61–67(Section63mandatingdurationandSection64regulatingdisclosurerequests).
6
[2007]NICC49
7
Seesections98(2A)and98(2B)ofthePostalandTelecommunicationsServicesAct1983,asinsertedbySection13oftheInterceptionofPostalPacketsandTelecommunicationsMessages(regulation)Act1993
8
97/66/ECoftheEuropeanParliamentandoftheCouncilof15December1997concerningtheprocessingofpersonaldataandtheprotectionofprivacyinthetelecommunicationssector.
9
McIntyre:“
DataretentioninIreland:Privacy,policyandproportionality”,
ComputerLaw&SecurityReport24(2008)326–334.
 
3merely
“fillinginthedetailsofprinciplesandpoliciesalreadyarticulated” 
intheparentlegislation.
10
TheDataProtectionCommissioneratthetimechallengedtheregimeofsecretdirectionstoachievetheaimofretainingalltrafficdata.Heviewedthesecretdirectionsas
ultravires
andstatedthatthesecretdirectionswereanattempttousurpthelawmakingpowersoftheOireachtas,amountingtoasignificantrestrictionontherighttoprivacy,lackedthecharacterofthelaw(asrequiredbyArticle8oftheEuropeanConventiononHumanRights)andwereinbreachoftheprovisionsofthefirstTelecommunicationsPrivacyDirective.
11
HealsoarguedthatsuchaninvasivelawshouldnotbemadeinawaydesignedtoevadeParliamentaryoversightorjudicialreview.
12
InJanuary2005theadmissibilityoftrafficdata,asevidence,wasfirstraisedbeforetheIrishcourtsin
People(DPP)vMurphy.
13
ThatdecisionheldthattelephonetrafficdatawasadmissibleinevidenceanditsusedidnotviolateArticle8oftheEuropeanConventiononHumanRights.Inreachingthisconclusion,however,theCourtreliedonthepurportedexistenceofjudicialsafeguardsandoversight.Thecourtappearstohaveerredinthisregard,asthelegislationinbeing,andrelieduponatthattime,lackedtheveryjudicialsafeguardsandoversightmentionedandfurtherlackedthestandardssetoutincasessuchas
MalonevUnitedKingdom
.
14
Thisregimecontinueduntilthe
CriminalJustice(TerroristOffences)Act2005
(the“2005Act”)
.
TheMinisterforJusticeatthetimerelieduponthreeargumentsinappendingthedataretentionregimetothe2005Act.Hisargumentscanbesummarisedas:urgencyinlightofterroristactivity;fulfilmentofIreland’sinternationalobligations;andregularisationofexistinglawinamorepermanentform.
15
The2005ActextendedthedataretentionobligationtoalltelecommunicationsserviceprovidersthatwerecontactedbytheGardaCommissionerinwriting.Theselegislativeprovisionswereintroduceddespitetheexistence,transpositionandsupposedoperationofDirective2002/58/EC
16
(the“ePrivacyDirective”),whichsetsoutobligationsconcerningtheprocessingofpersonaldataandtheprotectionofprivacyintheelectroniccommunicationssector.Article15oftheePrivacyDirectiveprovidesthatretentionoftrafficdataforpurposesoflawenforcementshouldmeetstrictconditions,
i.e.
retentionineachcaseshouldbeonlyforalimitedperiodandonlywherenecessary,appropriateandproportionateinademocraticsociety.
10
HoganandWhyte,Kelly:
TheIrishConstitution
(4
th
ed.,2003)at248,summarisingthejurisprudentialdevelopmentstartingwith
CityviewPressvAnCo
[1980]IR381.
11
Lillington,
‘‘CourtthreatforStateoverdataprivacy’’ 
,TheIrishTimes,26May2003.
12
Lillington,
‘‘Secretdatatrafficdirectionmaybreaklaw’’ 
,TheIrishTimes,30March2003.
13
[2005]IECCA1.
14
(1985)EHRR14.
15
179SeanadDebates,3February2005.
16
SI535/2003EuropeanCommunities(ElectronicCommunicationsNetworksandServices)(DataProtectionandPrivacy)Regulations2003

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