The Minister for Justice is to draft legislation to amend the current law on the retention of data for national-security purposes.
The Government has approved the move, which is aimed at addressing the impact of recent judgments from the Courts of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
Minister Helen McEntee said that she did not want a situation where an Garda Síochána (AGS) had “their hands tied behind their backs”.
In a case taken by convicted murderer Graham Dwyer, the CJEU ruled that EU law precluded the general and indiscriminate retention of electronic traffic and location data for the purposes of combating serious crime.
Two types of order
A statement from the Department of Justice said that the proposed changes to the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 were “without prejudice” to the State’s current appeal to the Supreme Court of a High Court ruling on the act.
The draft legislation will provide for amendments to the current rules on the general and indiscriminate retention of data from telephone and internet communications for national-security purposes.
It will also provide for two types of orders under which an Garda Síochána (AGS) will be able to secure and access “all forms of electronic data for the purpose of specific criminal investigations or proceedings”.
‘Preservation Orders’ will require the preservation of specified electronic data, in connection with specific persons, locations or other indicators. According to the department, such an order will not in itself require the granting of access to data.
‘Production Orders’ will require the gathering and submission of specified data in a person’s possession or control to AGS. These may include data that may already be the subject of a Preservation Order.
Minister McEntee plans to seek approval for the General Scheme of a bill “in the coming weeks”, with the aim of passing the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas by the summer.
The minister said that she was planning “wider reforms” on data retention later this year.
“Access to telecommunications data has become ever more important for the detection, investigation, and prosecution of crime and for safeguarding the security of the State,” she stated.
“There should always be safeguards and protections when it comes to accessing data, but we must not allow the balance to shift too far away from keeping people safe and fighting crime,” the minister added.