The Communications (Retention of Data) Bill, 2009 reaches its final stages in the Seanad on Thursday 20 th January. This is required to transpose the flawed European Directive of 2006 that was supposed to harmonise Data Retention across Member States. In fact it has done quite the opposite. It is being challenged in the courts in many countries and in fact Ireland challenged it at the European Court for technical reasons. Never mind that this Directive is totally disproportionate – a battle that continues at European level, the immediate concern is how it is being implemented in Ireland.
What really concerns ISPAI is that the Irish version of this Directive imposes greater requirements on Industry than our EU neighbours have implemented (or are in the process of implementing).
We believe strongly that this will act as a deterrent to new Internet businesses being established in Ireland or being attracted to locate here. Electronic business is highly mobile and cost sensitive. ISPAI is concerned that the cost of greater Data Retention here will pursuade these businesses to locate elsewhere. In this time of economic and employment crisis the Government needs to create an attractive environment rather than introduce new potential barriers.
What this law mandates is that every ISP must store data to record the “who, where and when” of every specified communication that every user makes on the Internet as they make it – whether or not the Garda suspect them of being involved in crime. Irrespective of the democratic rights aspects of this legislation, ISPs will be legally obliged to store this data and this requires additional systems, hardware and storage devices that we don’t need to deliver our core business goal – a quality Internet service to our customers. However, the costs do not stop there. Your ISP will have to service the data disclosure requests that can be made by Garda, Revenue and Military State Security. Where this data is to be presented as part of a court case, your ISP will have to send a key employee to verify this data in court. This all takes time and costs money.
At present the Bill makes no provision for these authorities to pay for this service, the costs of all this will have to be passed on to the customer.
See our letter of today to Senators here
We have been drawing attention to these serious issues since the outset in 2006. Some previous letters linked below.