Terror law to allow shut down of mobile networks

The Government is to seek sweeping new powers to allow it to shut down mobile phone networks as a security measure to counteract threats of terrorist acts at the upcoming G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

Justice and Defence Minister Alan Shatter announced his intention to bring forward such radical legislation yesterday in advance of the June 17-18 summit at Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

Mr Shatter told the Oireachtas Justice and Defence Committee that the summit highlighted the need for legislation in this area.

He pointed out that terrorist organisations were making increasing use of mobile communications technology to operate explosive devices.

The minister said he intended to bring in such measures through the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2013, whose name will have to be re-titled.

Under the proposals, phone service providers like Vodafone and O2 could be issued with directions to shut down services in particular geographical regions where there is deemed to be a threat to life or property.

World leaders travelling to Enniskillen include US president Barack Obama, Russian president Vladimir Putin, British prime minister David Cameron; French president François Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Shatter said the proposed amendments would be introduced at the report stage of the bill schedule for May 22 to enable the Dáil debate the legislation.

The committee’s chairman, David Stanton (FG), said he understood that similar legislation to allow the blocking of mobile phone signals exists in many other jurisdictions.

The Department of Justice failed to respond to queries on whether it had received any representation from the US government on the need for the phone-blocking measure.


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