Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions (164)

Clare Daly

Question:

164. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a policy of monitoring the phone and e-mail records of residents here. [29542/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

There is a comprehensive legislative regime in place to deal with such matters in this jurisdiction. With regard to interceptions, the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act, 1993 provides for the interception of postal and telecommunications messages. Under Section 2 of the Act, ministerial authorisation may be given for interceptions solely in the interests of the security of the State or for the purpose of criminal investigation. Such authorisations are only issued following application from the Garda Commissioner or the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, in accordance with the Act. The 2011 Communications (Retention of Data) Act provides for access to traffic data, location data and subscriber data. An application for such data may be made by a member of An Garda Síochána not below the rank of Chief Superintendent to a service provider where the data concerned is required in the context of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of a serious offence, the security of the State or the saving of human life. The content of calls, texts etc. are not disclosed under this Act. A senior officer of the Defence Forces may apply for such data where the data concerned is required in the context of the security of the State and a senior officer of the Revenue Commissioners may apply for data in relation to the investigation of certain revenue offences. Both statutory schemes are subject to judicial oversight. Both the 1993 and 2011 Acts provide for the appointment of a High Court Judge to carry out reviews of their operation and the relevant reports to the Taoiseach are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. In addition, the Acts provide for a procedure whereby a member of the public who believes their communications have been intercepted or that their personal data has been accessed (whichever the case may be) may make a complaint to a "Complaints Referee". The current Complaints Referee is a judge of the Circuit Court.