Baroness Neville-Jones sits in the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Security Minister and is National Security Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition. She is a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
Tomorrow the House of Lords will consider a Home Office statutory instrument (SI) on data retention – the Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009. This may seem like a technical little measure and the Government would like us to believe this. In fact, this SI, which transposes EU legislation into UK law, will substantially extend the range of information on our personal communications that service providers must collect and make available to government agencies on demand.
Currently service providers are required by the state to retain mobile and land line telephone records. The SI will require them to retain records about the source, destination, date, time, duration and type of our online communications. That is to say, our use of the internet through computers including all our email traffic.
In the Queen’s speech, the Government said that it would introduce a Communications Data Bill in this session which would include the transposition of EU law into UK law. This would have given the opportunity for full scrutiny of important issues affecting security, the powers of the state and the privacy of the citizen. They have not so far brought forward the Bill and it is not clear that they will do in this session. Or ever.