UK government outlines emergency legislation to continue storing private communications data

UK government outlines emergency legislation to continue storing private communications data

Despite global privacy concerns raised in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced new emergency legislation that will enable law enforcement and intelligence agencies to continue to access telecommunications and online data to combat crime.

The legislation comes in direct contrast to EU rulings that stipulate retaining telecoms and internet data was illegal. It also comes before ISPs and phone networks were to start deleting this data.

Cameron and Clegg were quick to stress that this legislation is temporary only and is designed to provide a “clearer legal framework” for the service-providers to operate under. A ‘sunset clause’ will be actioned in 2016, by which time a full review will have been carried out and a decision made on how best to proceed with infiltrating private communications. In short, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) will continue to store data for up to 12 months, for at least two more years.

Cameron said:

It is the first duty of government to protect our national security and to act quickly when that security is compromised. As events in Iraq and Syria demonstrate, now is not the time to be scaling back on our ability to keep our people safe. The ability to access information about communications and intercept the communications of dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK.

No government introduces fast track legislation lightly. But the consequences of not acting are grave.

I want to be very clear that we are not introducing new powers or capabilities – that is not for this Parliament. This is about restoring 2 vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe.

You can read the UK government’s announcement in full here.

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