ICCL welcomes rapidity of snooping review; has "serious misgivings" on limited scope
- Categorized in: Justice
Ireland's human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has welcomed the "rapid establishment" of an independent review into the use of data retention powers to snoop on the mobile telephone records of journalists, as well as the "high calibre" of the former Judge appointed to conduct it.
However, the rights organisation has expressed "serious misgivings" about the scope of the review, which appears to be limited to the use of the 2011 Act in relation to journalists.
ICCL Executive Director Mr Mark Kelly said:
"The Council commends Minister Fitzgerald for the rapidity with which she has reacted to those worrying revelations by establishing an independent review. It is welcome that former Chief Justice Murray will also consider the use of the 2011 Act by all relevant agencies, including An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, GSOC and the Revenue Commissioners."
"However, the Council regrets that the scope of the review of the 2011 Act has been limited to its use in relation to journalists. This legislation is used by law enforcement agencies to capture a wide range of private information about members of the public. The oversight shortcomings that this review will certainly identify are far from confined to cases where the data belongs to members of the media" Mr Kelly added.
"Moreover, GSOC, An Garda Síochána and other agencies also enjoy other interception and surveillance powers, in relation to journalists and the public at large, that are not adequately overseen. The ICCL hopes that former Chief Justice Murray's findings will provide a catalyst for a far wider review of the snooping powers of GSOC, An Garda Síochána and others", Mr Kelly concluded.
Note to editor
The Minister's press release confirms that the legal position is as has been explained by the ICCL, namely that GSOC's powers in this area derive from the the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011.
This means that GSOC has had these powers for the past five years, as had An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the Revenue Commissioners.
The ICCL has published a handy guide to the legal basis for these powers, available here: http://www.iccl.ie/news/2016/01/18/iccl-release-a-handy-guide-to-the-phone-snooping-powers-of-the-garda-s%C3%ADoch%C3%A1na-ombudsman-commission-(gsoc)-and-an-garda-s%C3%ADoch%C3%A1na.html