Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (287)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

287. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the number of data access requests the Revenue Commissioners have made to telecom companies and social media companies here in the past three years to date in 2020 under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011; the number of access requests that were approved and declined by the companies that the data was requested from; and the reason the data was sought. [38849/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that, based on the advice of the Attorney General’s Office, it has not made any disclosure requests to communications service providers under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 since December 2018.

The following table outlines the number of disclosure requests made under the Act since 2017:

Year

Number of disclosure requests

2017

40

2018

26

2019

0

2020

0

No disclosure requests were declined but , there were 3 requests in 2018 where no response was received from the relevant communications service provider.

The Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 provides that Revenue can make a disclosure request under that Act for the purposes of the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of a “revenue offence”. A Revenue offence is defined by the 2011 Act as an offence, that is a serious offence, under section 14 of the Customs Act 2015; section 1078 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997; section 102 of the Finance Act 1999; section 119 of the Finance Act 2001; section 79 of the Finance Act 2003 (inserted by s 62 of the Finance Act 2005); or section 78 of the Finance Act 2005. Examples of revenue offences include tax or duty evasion, fuel fraud, supply or sale of illicit tobacco products. I am advised by Revenue that its requests under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 were in accordance with the aforementioned provisions.

Finally, the Deputy should be aware that a Judge of the High Court designated by the Government oversees the operation of the Act. The designated Judge has access to all official documents or records associated with disclosure requests. The Judge ascertains whether the Revenue Commissioners and other agencies are complying with the provisions of the Act and reports annually to the Taoiseach on any matters that are considered appropriate.