[Sinn Fein]

25th February 2003

Ó Snodaigh demands Taoiseach answer questions on secret data retention regime

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Taoiseach to make a public explanation following reports that the state has had a secret data retention regime for almost a year, authorised by former Minister for Enterprise Mary O'Rourke.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``This revelation is all the more shocking because we are still waiting for publication of the proposed Data Retention Bill, and the public debate on the proposed measures that would ensue. This Bill is bound to be extremely controversial in that it will mandate retention of all phone, mobile, internet, fax, and email traffic information for three years. It represents a significant infringement of the right to privacy. It will also undermine protections not yet enshrined in law under the Data Protection Bill that is still making its way through the House ? as I pointed out during its second stage debate. I agree with commentators who have said that the as yet unpublished Data Retention Bill could represent the `greatest mass compromising of personal privacy ever proposed in the history of the state'.

``But I am perplexed about the Taoiseach's response to my question about the Bill today in the House. When I asked about the status of the Data Retention Bill ? given that the secret regime was reportedly already in place for over a year ? he merely replied that the Bill had already been published. Yet the Dáil deputies have not seen it. To the best of my information, this is not in fact the case. As far as I am concerned, the Taoiseach still owes a public explanation as to the reason for the secret regime, and the status of the Data Retention Bill that is due to be published and debated publicly.

``I will be pushing this issue again until we get satisfactory answers when the Dáil resumes again tomorrow.''

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