Vodafone revelations highlight need for overhaul of interception laws says ICCL

  • 06-06-2014
  • Categorized in: Privacy

Vodafone revelations highlight need for overhaul of interception laws says ICCL

Press Release

For immediate release, Friday 6 June 2014

Ireland’s human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said that disclosures today (6 June 2014) by telecoms giant Vodafone highlight the need for a “comprehensive overhaul of Ireland’s outdated interception laws”.

In its first ever “Law Enforcement Disclosure Report”, Vodafone reveals that it operates systems allowing direct “real time” interception and recording of voice calls by Governments in a number of the 29 countries in which it is active.

As regards Ireland, a legal annex to the report notes that Ministerial powers under section 110 of the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act 1983 “seem sufficiently broad to allow implementation of a technical capacity that enables direct access to a Licenced Operator’s network (without the Licenced Operator’s operational control or oversight)”.

Welcoming the Vodafone report, ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:

“Our interception laws were drafted in a pre-digital age and are plainly no longer fit for purpose. In principle, all intercepts in Ireland should be based on individualised and time-limited warrants; however, our outdated laws apparently do not explicitly preclude the possibility of far more intrusive snooping on the content of voice calls”.

“Ireland is the only one of 29 countries analysed that has refused Vodafone permission to publish information on precisely how its content is intercepted; consequently, the ICCL has sought a categorical reassurance from relevant Government departments that no system of “direct access pipes” into the networks of telecoms operators is, or has been, in operation in this jurisdiction”, Mr Kelly continued.

“Today’s report highlights once again the need for a comprehensive overhaul of Ireland’s legal interception powers to render them fit for the internet age. This should include the introduction of a robust system of oversight by an independent authority, to replace the very flimsy fig leaf of judicial scrutiny that is currently in place. The ICCL notes, in this respect, that the ‘Designated Judge’ under the relevant statutes currently produces an ‘annual report’ consisting of only five content-light sentences” Mr Kelly concluded.


Walter Jayawardene

Communications Manager

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Tel. + 353 1 799 4503

Mob: +353 87 9981574   

E-mail  walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie


Notes to Editor

Vodafone’s Law Enforcement Disclosure Report is available at:


The report’s Legal Annex is available at:


The latest one page ‘annual report’ of the ‘Designated Judge’ under the relevant legislation can be viewed at this link:




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