[Sinn Fein]

October 22th 2002

EU inspired Data Retention Bill will undermine Data Protection Bill currently before Dáil

Speaking in the Dáil this evening during the Second Stage of the Data Protection (Amendment) Bill 2002, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, while broadly welcoming the Bill expressed concerns about some aspects of it in terms of definitions and areas of responsibilities for Data Controllers. He went on to suggest that the planned Data Retention Bill, when it comes before the House in 2003, would ``undermine the rights of Irish citizens that the Data Protection Bill seeks to defend''.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: ``While there are areas of this Bill about which I have concerns, I recognise it as a genuine attempt to address the need to update our data protection laws from 1988.

``However I note from the Legislative Programme published several weeks ago, that the Government plans to introduce the Telecommunications (Retention of Traffic Data) Bill in 2003. I believe that this planned Data Retention Bill will undermine many of the necessary protections provided in the Data Protection Bill before the House today. The Data Retention Bill will `oblige licensed (telecommunication) operators to retain records of traffic data for a specified period' - as necessitated by the terms of an EU Directive.

``Under the Directive, this information, known as traffic data, will be centralised and made available to all EU governments for surveillance purposes. Authorities will not need a warrant to get this information. This is a move from targeted to universal surveillance, and as such represents a violation of protected rights.

``Given the stated opposition of the Data Protection Commissioners and civil liberties groups to this EU Directive, it astounds me that the Government has acquiesced to bring this contradictory legislation forward. It also a disgrace that only one Irish MEP dared to vote against it.'' ENDS

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