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Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP)

I thought it was worthwhile putting a post on my blog that looks at the votes relating to this particular bill (during some of which votes I have rebelled and during others of which I have not).

Firstly there is a statutory instrument:

This is The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 No. 859 under this SI phone companies are required to hold certain information about phone calls and ISPs are supposed to keep track of who has what IP address.   Obviously this has been in place since 2009 and prior to that date other rules existed as to recording certain information relating to calls and internet access.

Obviously there are advantages to law enforcement in being able to get information about particular accounts and phone calls.  This was, in fact, used as part of the Aston Election Petition back in 2005 so although I don't know precisely what information was retained prior to 2009 it is clear that some information was.

All of this information is retained under the European Communities Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC.  A legal case from Ireland to the European Court of Justice had the above directive declared invalid on 8th April 2014.  That does not necessarily mean that the SI 2009/859 is invalid, but it creates a significant doubt that needs to be resolved.

The key thing done by DRIP is to enable the government to pass another statutory instrument to reinforce 2009/859.  The proposed additional SI is on my website here:

I have, however, a number of concerns.

Firstly, I was unhappy that what was emergency legislation was drafted to last 2 1/2 years.  I have sponsored an amendment tabled by Tom Watson to reduce this period to 6 months.  I, therefore, voted against the timetabling motion (programme motion) because of the rushed timescale of consideration.

Secondly, I am concerned that the bill enables the government to do further things which I would not agree with.  The government may not do that.  Indeed to do it they would need a motion through the house of commons.  However, there are real difficulties with a bill that is getting so little consideration by the nation.

Hence although in principle I agree that something should be done (which is why I voted for the bill at second reading) this is not the right something.  I voted for the amendment to the sunset clause and when that failed I voted against the bill on the third reading.  I am likely to vote for the statutory instrument, however.


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