UK Communications Data Bill announced

The UK Government today announced further surveillance powers that will be launched as part of a new Communications Data Bill. The announcement was incorporated into the Preparing Britain for the Future: UK Government’s Draft Legislative Programme 2008/09 document.

11. Communications Data Bill
The purpose of the Bill is to: allow communications data capabilities for the prevention and detection of crime and protection of national security to keep up with changing technology through providing for the collection and retention of such data, including data not required for the business purposes of communications service providers; and to ensure strict safeguards continue to strike the proper balance between privacy and protecting the public.

The main elements of the Bill are:
Modify the procedures for acquiring communications data and allow this data to be retained;
Transpose EU Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of communications data into UK law.

The main benefits of the Bill are:
Communications data plays a key role in counter-terrorism investigations, the prevention and detection of crime and protecting the public. The Bill would bring the legislative framework on access to communications data up to date with changes taking place in the telecommunications industry and the move to using Internet Protocol (IP) core networks;
Unless the legislation is updated to reflect these changes, the ability of authorities to carry out their counter-terror, crime prevention and public safety duties and to counter these threats will be undermined.

Consultation
The Government plans to publish this Bill in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny later this year. The draft Bill will then be made available on www.homeoffice.gov.uk. In the meantime, any comments or questions about these proposals should be directed to CommsData@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

Territorial extent
The Bill would extend to the whole of the United Kingdom. The Government will work closely with the devolved administrations in relation to their responsibilities in this area.

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