Warning over cost of Bill on data retention

 

THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS and Internet Federation (TIF) has told the Department of Justice it will seek financial compensation if proposals in a Bill on data retention become law.

TIF director Tommy McCabe said the proposed legislation was “onerous” as it would place additional call and internet data management requirements on communications operators. “We are talking about millions of euro. It’s not an insignificant cost,” he said.

Mr McCabe said the federation would write to the department this week to outline formally its concerns about the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2009. It has already made its position known via phone.

The federation will argue that reimbursement should be provided to cover the cost of implementing additional requirements for the storage and retrieval of electronic data.

“We will be seeking compensation, which we understand has been allowed in other jurisdictions, such as the UK,” he said. “Operators are happy to co-operate with gardaí in relation to this issue, but it’s a cost. In the current climate, costs are being looked at everywhere.”

Mr McCabe said the TIF would also seek clarification about aspects of the proposed legislation that it found unclear.

He said additional information was required on the type of data that would need to be retained and the circumstances under which it would have to be made available.

He said the TIF also had queries about the proposal to redefine serious crime from the current definition of a crime punishable by a minimum sentence of five years to any crime with a minimum sentence of 12 months.

A spokesman for the department said: “There are currently no plans to refund the cost of retaining data. Under current requirements for service providers to retain telephony data, costs are not refunded.”

The spokesman added that the legislation was almost ready for publication.