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Tuesday 20 March 2018

How security agencies get citizens' phone records from telecoms firms

Phone companies are well used to police and security agencies requesting records from people's phones.

"There is an agreed process between the authorities and telecoms operators," said a senior executive of one of the country's largest phone providers. "We all have dedicated officers in departments who look after requests."

Most requests received by telecoms companies come under the Communications Act of 2011, which says that either the Gardai or the Revenue can request citizens' phone records "for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of a serious offence". The Gardai can also do this for "the saving of human life".

As for what they can ask for, this includes names, addresses and "data necessary to identify the location of mobile communication equipment".

The requests have to be made by very senior officers, such as a chief Garda superintendent, a GSOC commissioner, a principal officer of the Revenue or an army colonel. More invasive requests, such as surveillance, can be made under the 1999 Telecoms Act and the 2009 Criminal Justice Act.

Both mobile and fixed line firms are affected. Web providers such as Google and Facebook are also liable to state requests for customer messages and emails. Only Vodafone gives any indication of the scale of state requests -- 7,973 in the last 12 month period measured -- received by Irish operators.

Irish Independent

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