The Government Chief Whip, Seán Kyne TD, has published the Government’s Legislation Programme for Autumn 2019. The Programme lists 32 priority Bills; 27 Bills currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas, and 69 Bills where preparatory work is underway.
The key data protection and technology-related Bills are set out below. The Programme notes that work is underway on these Bills, but does not provide any indication as to when they will be published.
- Communications (Retention of Data) Bill– This Bill will repeal and replace the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 which requires telephony data to be retained by telecommunications service providers for two years, and allows An Garda Síochána and certain other State agencies to access such data for criminal investigative purposes. The Heads of Bill were published in October 2017, following publication of Mr Justice Murray’s Report reviewing the ‘Law on the Retention of and Access to Communications Data’, which found that many features of the 2011 Act are precluded by EU law. In Dwyer v Commissioner of An Garda Siochána  IEHC 685;  IEHC 48, the High Court made a declaration that section 6(1)(a) of the 2011 Act is inconsistent with EU law, insofar it allows telephony data to be retained on a general and indiscriminate basis. A stay has been placed on that declaration pending an appeal to the Supreme Court, which is due to be heard in December 2019.
- Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill – Earlier this year, Minister Richard Bruton TD launched a public consultation on this Bill, seeking the views of citizens and stakeholders on an achievable and proportionate approach to regulating harmful online content ( discussed here).
- Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) (Amendment) Bill– This Bill will amend various pieces of legislation in respect of electronic communications. In 2016, the Department of Justice and Equality published a policy document discussing why this area of law needs to be amended ( discussed here).
- Cybercrime Bill – This Bill will give effect to those provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime 2001 not already provided for in national law, in order to enable ratification of the Convention.
We will keep you updated on the progress of these Bills.