On Thursday July 10 the Home Secretary made a statement in the House of Commons about the emergency legislation that will be introduced to Parliament next week on communications data and interception
This follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in April which means that the police and intelligence services are in danger of losing vital information which is used in 95% of serious and organised crime investigations as well as counter terror investigations and online child abuse.
I believe there needs to be a wide public debate about the balance that is needed between security and privacy in an internet age and whether our legal framework has kept up with new technology. I also appreciate there will be serious concern inside and outside of Parliament at the lateness of the Government’s proposals and that Parliament and the wider country have so little time to discuss something so important.
It will therefore be vital to ensure there are proper safeguards in this legislation and that it is carefully scrutinised. It is also welcome that the legislation expires in 2016 – requiring the Government and Parliament to consult on and consider longer-term proposals next year –and that the Government have accepted the Shadow Frontbench’s call for a wider independent review of the legal framework governing data access and interception.
I took part in the questioning on the statement on Thursday 10 July. Here is what I said and the response by the Home Secretary .
Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): I welcome this measured, responsible statement and the response by the shadow Home Secretary. The Home Secretary referred to the position with regard to Denmark and Ireland, which use implementations from primary legislation. Will she give us more information about other European countries? Is it possible that other countries with coalition Governments will have already made the necessary changes and that others might take a lot longer than this, leaving a hole in European security?
Mrs May: Other countries are having to address this in terms of their own legislative frameworks. For some, the timetable will be different from the timetable we are adopting, purely because of their situation and what they need to do. We would expect that, in due course, the European Commission will look at the issue of the EU data retention directive that has been struck down and whether it and member states will wish to come together to put in place a further directive. However, that will not be for some time, hence the need to take action in the interim.
I believe that Parliament does need to act to provide a temporary and urgent solution to the ECJ’s ruling that allows the police and intelligence agencies to carry on fighting crime, protecting children and preventing terrorism. That is why I will be supporting this temporary, emergency legislation next week.