Home Knowledge Data Retention Bill published

Data Retention Bill published

The Data Retention Bill, published on 13 July 2009, will implement the Data Protection Directive of 15 March 2006 and place increased obligations on internet and telecommunications service providers.

Telecommunications service providers will be obliged to retain details of all phone and text data for 2 years, while internet service providers must store email records for 1 year. The law will not require storage of the actual content of communications but details of the senders and recipients, the date and time sent and, for mobile phones, the location of the phones must be retained.

Under the new provisions, the Gardaí may request a service provider to disclose data required for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of offences punishable by at least 5 years in prison, the safeguarding of the security of the State or for the saving of human life. The Army may also request a service provider to disclose data for the purpose of safeguarding the security of the State and the Revenue Commissioners may request data for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of a revenue offence. A person to whom the data relates will also be able to request the data.

There are several protective measures contained within the legislation. Security measures and access limitations will need to be put in place. In addition, the Data Protection Commissioner will be given a supervisory role.

Even prior to publication, the Data Retention Bill has proved to be controversial. As reported in our February 2009 Legal News, the Irish Government took an unsuccessful challenge to the Data Retention Directive. Meanwhile, a separate challenge to the implementation of the Directive in Ireland by Digital Rights Ireland continues before the High Court. Internet service providers have also voiced concerns about the Bill, pointing out that they will bear the burden of increased costs in relation to the storage and protection of data and that the 1-year retention period may result in service providers relocating to other EU states that have opted for the minimum 6-month period.