27. INTERCEPTION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONSDRAFT
COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON NEW TECHNOLOGIES
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee, to Kate Hoey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State, Home Office
Thank you for your letter of 15 June
which was considered by Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions)
at its meeting on 30 June.
The Committee is grateful for the information
and explanation given in your letter and decided to clear the
draft Resolution from scrutiny, subject to two points.
First, the Committee considers that the Government
should provide to Parliament and to the public a fuller explanation
of the different purposes of, and the relationship between, the
draft Resolution and the interception provisions of the draft
Convention on Mutual Assistance. This would be helpful in dispelling
any confusion which may at present exist.
Secondly, the Committee expects the Government
to keep it fully informed of developments and to continue to provide
it with copies of further versions of, or amendments to, the draft
Resolution in accordance with scrutiny requirements.
In view of the interest JUSTICE has expressed
in this matter, I am copying to them this letter as well as my
previous letter to you of 6 May and your reply of 15 June.
1 July 1999
Letter from Kate Hoey MP, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State, Home Office, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman
of the Committee
Thank you for your letter of 1 July.
You ask for a full explanation of the different
purposes of, and relationship between, the draft Council Resolution
on New Technologies and the draft Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance.
As I have explained previously, there is no direct relationship
between them. They are separate instruments, and are being considered
in separate working groups. The only connection between them is
that they cover the same subject area: the interception of communications
(particularly satellite telephones).
The draft Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance
in Criminal Matters is by far the most significant instrument.
It is legally binding, and will establish a framework for co-operation
on the interception of communications between the Member States
of the European Union. It now contains text specifically intended
to provide a legal basis for the "service provider"
solution to the interception of satellite telephones.
The draft Council Resolution on the interception
of new technologies is not legally binding. It is intended to
supplement the 1995 Council Resolution on the lawful interception
of communications. It seeks to clarify that law enforcement agencies'
interception "requirements" annexed to the 1995 Council
Resolution (which were originally drafted in the context of public
telecommunications networks) apply also to new technologies such
as satellite telecommunications and the Internet. It does not
deal with the "service provider" solution for the interception
of satellite telephones.
In fact, as explained in previous explanatory
memoranda, the draft Council Resolution serves very little purpose
for the UK Government. The Government recently published a consultation
document on the interception of communications which covers a
wide range of issues relevant to the future structure of the UK's
interception legislation, including the proposal to extend the
scope of the legislation to cover new technologies such as satellite
telephones and the Internet. The proposal for the draft Council
Resolution will not prejudice this consultation process.
Finally, you will wish to note that the future
of the draft Council Resolution is currently under consideration
by the Finnish Presidency. Our position remains that we are content
with the principle that law enforcement agencies' requirements
for the lawful interception of criminals using the Internet and
satellite telephones are similar to those for public telecommunications
networks. But we have explained to the Finnish Presidency that
we see very little need for the draft Resolution, particularly
since it is being confused with the draft Convention on Mutual
We will, of course, continue to inform the scrutiny
committees of any developments and deposit relevant documents
in accordance with scrutiny requirements.
21 July 1999
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee,
to Barbara Roche MP, Minister of State, Home Office
Sub-Committee E has considered Kate Hoey's letter
of 21 July clarifying the different purposes of, and relationship
between, the draft Council Resolution on New Technologies and
the draft Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters
and is grateful for your explanation.
The Sub-Committee has noted the Government's
assurance that there is no direct connection between the draft
Resolution and the draft Mutual Assistance Convention. The latter,
as you know, remains under scrutiny. The Sub-Committee thanks
the Government for its undertaking to keep it informed of developments.
21 October 1999
8 Printed in Correspondence with Ministers 17th
Report, Session 1998-99, p 78. Back