Draft Communications Data Bill

I am aware that many of you are concerned by the Government’s Draft Communications Data Bill and the potential impact this draft Bill could have on privacy.

The draft Bill will provide the police and intelligence agencies with greater powers to access vital communications data. The proposal is to allow for the collection and retention of communications data by communication service providers for 12 months. This will require all providers to store details of when, where, by and to whom a text message, call, email or social media messages are sent. However, they will not store the content of the messages. The content of communications will only be made available to the police if they have a warrant signed by the Home Secretary.

A Joint Committee of MPs and Lords recently examined the draft Bill and published a report which recommended that the Bill be ‘significantly amended’ due to concerns about the amount of data available to law enforcement agencies and the lack of safeguards on people’s privacy.

It is vital that the police and security services can remain up-to-date with technology as it changes. This must balance real security needs with a proportionate response on privacy.

I hope that the Government will consider the Joint Committee’s recommendations before it is brought before the House.