Patrick Mercer (Newark, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will place in the Library copies of the information which was presented to internet service providers on 3 November 2008 by her Department on the issues and technology surrounding the Government's Interception Modernisation Programme.
Vernon Coaker (Minister of State (Policing, Crime & Security), Home Office; Gedling, Labour)
We have been considering how we can continue to protect the public by utilising communications data in the light of changing technology and have created the cross-Government Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) to analyse the available options. Since 2006 there has been ongoing work with intelligence agencies, SOCA, police, HMRC and the telecommunications industry to analyse the size of the problem and to investigate possible solutions to help maintain this essential capability, including relevant safeguards.
I recognise there is a difficult balance between public safety and public rights to privacy so I recently announced my intention to launch a public consultation on the Interception Modernisation Programme. As part of the ongoing engagements with communications service providers, and to raise awareness of the forthcoming consultation, the Interception Modernisation Programme recently presented at the Internet Services Providers' Association conference, outlining the importance of communications data to public safety and the problems that the move to internet technologies will cause. The consultation document also will set out the range of background issues including the vital requirement of communications data in protecting the UK from serious crime and terrorism, the need for a solution to maintain our capability and the need to provide adequate safeguards as part of any solution.
This will be published in January 2009 and as a matter of course be placed in the Library. The results of the public consultation will be used to inform any decisions on the programme's preferred solution and safeguards and to determine whether future legislation is needed.