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The Retention and Processing of Communications Data for Law Enforcement: A Challenge for Privacy

Holmes, Allison M (2018) The Retention and Processing of Communications Data for Law Enforcement: A Challenge for Privacy. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:71718)

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Law enforcement agencies are dominant end users of information communication technologies. These technologies are not necessarily created for pursuing criminal justice objectives. They are mechanisms that are built, administered, and maintained by private actors for their own purposes and later incorporated into law enforcement processes. They serve an effective role in the investigation, detection, and prosecution of crime, particularly through their collection and processing of relevant data. For the purposes of this thesis, the data at issue concerns the who, where, when, and how of a communication. Broadly classed as 'communications data' this information is readily and consistently available due to technological developments which result in blanket collection and retention, enable easier access, and create opportunities to derive greater meaning from the information through data analysis. The thesis examines the challenges of reconciling privacy with the use of this data in policing by conducting a critical analysis of 'how, and to what extent, do the current legal and policy frameworks governing the retention of, access to, and analysis of communications data by law enforcement, constitute a violation of privacy which requires substantive changes to the legal regime?'.

The thesis concludes that it is insufficient to apply traditional interpretations of privacy to technologies which have fundamentally altered social expectations through the scale/scope of data, the deconstruction of traditional boundaries, the limitation of ephemerality, and changes in technologically mediated presence. Applying a legal framework which does not acknowledge this impact fails to guarantee fundamental privacy rights. A number of recommendations are advanced for reform of the investigatory powers mechanisms to ensure privacy is protected when communications data is utilised by law enforcement.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Walsh, Dermot
Thesis advisor: Ring, Sinead
Uncontrolled keywords: Communications Data, Law Enforcement, United Kingdom, Privacy
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2019 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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