Data Retention Conference

The Irish Centre for European Law is hosting a conference on “Privacy and the Data Retention Directive” on Wednesday, 19 July 2006, from 2-6pm in the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street. Speakers will include:

Paul Durrant, Internet Service Providers Association
Billy Hawkes, Data Protection Commissioner
Karlin Lillington, Technology Journalist, The Irish Times
Thomas O’Malley, Barrister and Senior Lecturer, NUIG
T.J. McIntyre, Chairman, Digital Rights Ireland

To register for the conference, telephone 01–608 1845 or email The conference is, alas, expensive (non-members €150, ICEL members €120, students €50) but we have a limited number of discount tickets available. Email if you’re interested.

Full details follow



Chair (First Panel): Mr Justice Nial Fennelly

Chair (Discussion Panel): Dr Eamonn G. Hall

With the assistance of Eircom Solicitors Office


2.25pm Welcome from the Director of the Centre

2.30pm Billy Hawkes, Data Protection Commissioner

‘The Data Retention Directive and Data Protection.’

This presentation outlines the background to the Data Retention Directive and comments on its main provisions. While recognising the potential value of telecoms data in crime prevention and investigation, it highlights the concerns that have been expressed about the Directive by EU Data Protection Authorities. It compares the Directive provisions to the present Irish legislation on data retention and suggests that transposition of the Directive into Irish law might provide an opportunity for additional safeguards to protect data privacy. It suggests that such safeguards could be put in place without compromising law enforcement and should be implemented even if the Irish Government’s ECJ challenge to the Directive were to succeed.

3.05pm T.J. McIntyre, Chairman, Digital Rights Ireland and Faculty of Law, UCD.

‘Privatising the Panopticon: The Civil Rights Implications of Universal Surveillance.’

This paper will look at the threats which mass surveillance poses to privacy and freedom of expression.

3.40pm Q & A



Karlin Lillington, Technology Journalist, The Irish Times

Speaker’s Abstract: In barely a decade, Ireland has gone from one of the nations most protective of digital privacy rights, as embedded in the 2000 Electronic Commerce Act, to one of the most oppressive amongst Western democracies. Most of this change was made in a deliberately surreptitious manner, using legislation that was, ironically, put in place to prevent such abuses in the first place. Such a switch has profound implications for how the State views its citizens, and how attractive Ireland continues to be for the technology sector that underpins the strong economy here, with the current legal situation leaving the door wide open to State and law enforcement abuses.

Paul Durrant, General Manager,
Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland

Speaker’s Abstract: This presentation highlights a number of key technical uncertainties, implications and conundrums faced by the ISP industry in implementing and complying with the Data Retention Directive, who at the same time are attempting to balance legal and moral obligations of privacy and data protection expected by business and residential customers utilising the ever increasing number of services offered by way of the Internet in a free and democratic society.

Thomas O’Malley, Barrister-at-Law and Senior Lecturer, N.U.I.G.



Paul Durrant, M.Sc., is General Manager of the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland and a member of Government’s Internet Advisory Board. He has over 25 years experience in the Information and Communications Technologies sector providing Internet infrastructure, e-commerce and digital media production consultancy to private sector and EC DGXIII; M.D. of MTI, the national centre which instigated digital media information systems development; Technical Director, CACI Dublin, simulation software development and over ten years in IBM Ireland as Software Development Manager and Systems Engineer.

Mr Justice Nial Fennelly is a Judge of the Supreme Court and former Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice. He is Chairman of the Centre.

Dr Eamonn G. Hall is the chief solicitor of Eircom Group plc., chief examiner in constitutional law and consultant in judicial review to the Law School of the Law Society of Ireland. A former president of the Medico-Legal Society of Ireland, past chairman of the Irish Society for European Law and the Law Reporting Council of Ireland, he served for three years as a member of the first Information Society Commission. He is a fellow of the Society of Advanced Legal Studies, (London), a visiting fellow and member of the adjunct faculty of law at UCD and a board member of the Irish Centre for European Law, TCD. Author of The Electronic Age: Telecommunication in Ireland, Dr Hall has contributed articles and chapters to various publications.

Billy Hawkes was appointed by the Government as Data Protection Commissioner in July 2005 for a 5-year term. Prior to his appointment, he worked as a civil servant in various government departments, most recently Finance, Enterprise, Trade & Employment and Foreign Affairs.

Karlin Lillington is a journalist and columnist with The Irish Times, covering the technology sector. She has been writing about data retention and digital privacy issues for 10 years, for The Irish Times as well as The Guardian and Wired News.

TJ McIntyre, BL is a lecturer in law in University College Dublin and Chairman of the civil liberties group Digital Rights Ireland. He has published in the area of computer crime and online civil rights. He is the author with Sinead McMullan of Criminal Law in Ireland, the second edition of which was published in 2005.

Tom O’Malley M.A. (NUI), LL.M. (Yale) is a Senior Lecturer in Law at NUI, Galway and a practising barrister. His publications include Sentencing Law and Practice (2nd edition, 2006); Sexual Offences: Law Policy and Punishment (1996); The Criminal Process: A Textbook and Principled Discretion: Sentencing without Guidelines (both forthcoming 2006). He has been a member of several committees and working groups on various aspects of law reform and is currently a member of a committee advising on the establishment of a computerised sentencing information system.

The Director, on behalf of the Centre, expresses his thanks to the chairmen, speakers and sponsor for their participation.