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Communication Service Providers

Question for Home Office

UIN HL11152, tabled on 7 December 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the average timescale between information being requested by UK law enforcement agencies from communication service providers in relation to criminal investigations and that information being provided.

Answered on

22 December 2020

Home Office officials work with law enforcement regularly to consider what data is operationally valuable to them and how they may lawfully access it. It is vital that law enforcement agencies have the information they need to detect and prevent crime and keep the public safe.

The legal routes available to law enforcement agencies will depend on the specific circumstances and the types of data sought.

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 allows the Government to place obligations on Telecommunications Operators to co-operate with Law Enforcement Agencies in providing specific data required for investigations.

The Act governs these powers and provides extensive privacy safeguards and a robust oversight regime, including approval of the most intrusive powers by an independent Judicial Commissioner and the Secretary of State.

During the parliamentary passage of the IPA, the UK Government set out, in detail, how IPA powers can be used, and continues to do so where appropriate.

The information concerning average timescales for data being requested by UK law enforcement agencies from communication service providers is not held centrally by the Home Office. Each Public Authority authorised to acquire data under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 will likely maintain records of their own average timescales. These timescales may depend on the Telecommunications Operator and the urgency of the investigation.

Answered by

Home Office