Guidance

Communications data draft codes of practice: acquisition, disclosure and retention

An updated acquisition and retention of communications data code of practice and a new retention of communications data code of practice presented to Parliament for approval on 4 March 2015.

This publication was withdrawn on

These codes were withdrawn on 5 April 2016. Updated codes of practice are available.

Documents

Acquisition and disclosure of communications data: draft code of practice (web version)

Acquisition and disclosure of communications data: draft code of practice (print version)

Retention of communications data: draft code of practice (web version)

Retention of communications data: draft code of practice (print version)

Details

The first document is an updated acquisition and disclosure of communications data code of practice pursuant to section 71 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Also, a response to the public consultation on the codes.

The second document is a new retention of communications data code of practice pursuant to regulation 10 of the Data Retention Regulations 2014 and section 71 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The third document is the summary of, and response to, the comments received during the consultation.

The draft codes of practice set out the processes and safeguards governing the acquisition of communications data by public authorities, including law enforcement agencies, and its retention by communications service providers. They are intended to provide clarity, and incorporate best practice, on the use of the relevant powers, ensuring the highest standards of professionalism and compliance in this important aspect of law enforcement.

Between 9 December 2014 and 20 January 2015 the government held a consultation on the 2 codes of practice. Around 300 responses were received to the consultation, most of which related to the acquisition code and focused on the issue of communications data and journalists.

On 4 February 2015, the Interception of Communications Commissioner published the report of his inquiry into the police access to communications data of journalists. The government accepted the commissioner’s recommendations in full and the Serious Crime Act 2015 requires that certain codes of practice must reflect the public interest in protecting journalists’ sources.

In addition to that, as a stop-gap until legislation can be enacted in the next Parliament, the acquisition and disclosure of communications data code of practice requires law enforcement acquisition of communications data to determine journalistic sources to be carried out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) (or equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland and Scotland), which provides for judicial authorisation.

On 4 March, these codes were laid before Parliament for approval. They came into force on 25 March, and you can read the final approved versions.

Published 5 March 2015
Last updated 10 March 2015 + show all updates
  1. Published: acquisition and disclosure of communications data: retention of communications data codes of practice.
  2. First published.