The government has proposed amendments to the Law on Investigation Powers (IPA) after having accepted that some parties are “incompatible with EU law”.
The IPA governs the collection and use of communications data by law enforcement agencies.
In December 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that certain aspects of the legislation were incompatible with EU law.
A public consultation on the proposed changes will run until 18 January.
Under the IPA, the secretary of state may order the companies to retain communications metadata such as when and to whom messages were sent.
But the government has agreed the IPA was incompatible with EU law because:
the application of the law has not need to seek other sources of permission for access to communications data
the collection of communications metadata was not only reserved for the most serious crimes
To address these concerns, the government proposes:
that the offences carrying a potential prison sentence of six months or more, must be considered as “serious crimes” for which the communications data can be collected
that the communications data will not be collected for the purposes of the public health, the collection of taxes or the regulation of the financial markets
the creation of a new Office for Communications of Data Permissions (OCDA), which will authorise or refuse the application of the act to data requests
He said the creation of the OCDA was a significant task which would require new premises, systems and staff.
The Open Rights Group described the changes as a “great victory” but said that he wanted other changes.
“The addition of independent authorisation for communications data requests to make the police more effective, such as corruption and the abuse will be more difficult,” he said in a blog post.
“However, the government did not take into account many of the key elements of the decision. It is not to reduce the amount of data stored.”
The public has until January 18 to submit comments on the proposals of the government.