Search Legislation

Scotland Act 1998

Section C10: Telecommunications and Wireless Telegraphy
Purpose and Effect

This Section reserves telecommunications and wireless telegraphy.  It also reserves internet services and electronic encryption.


Telecommunications includes telephone systems and all forms of data transmission conveyed through the agency of electric, magnetic, electro-magnetic, electro-chemical or electro-mechanical energy.  Operation of telecommunication systems is regulated by licensing powers of the Secretary of State and the Director General of Telecommunications under the Telecommunications Act 1984.

Wireless telegraphy is defined in legislation as emitting or receiving (without wires) electromagnetic energy of a frequency not exceeding 3 million megacycles per second. The Secretary of State has the power to make regulations concerning wireless telegraphy and to licence operators.  These powers extend to the use of the radio spectrum.  There is an overlap with Broadcasting which is regulated under separate legislation which is also reserved.

The reservation extends also to the subject-matter of a number of EC Directives and Regulations dealing with telecommunications and wireless telegraphy which use definitions which have a similar effect to those cited in UK legislation.  This includes the regulations concerned with electromagnetic disturbance which is in part concerned with the establishment and regulation of technical standards.  Technical standards of goods are also reserved.

Internet services are provided over computer systems linked by national and international telephone system but the services provided go beyond ordinary telecommunications.  The reservation extends to all such services provided by electronic means at a distance.

Electronic encryption covers the general use of encryption of communications or data in electronic form for the purposes of commercial confidentiality and authentication.

Parliamentary Consideration
Details of Provisions

The reservation covers all matters relating to telecommunications and wireless telegraphy as described above.  In particular this includes the subject-matter of the following legislation:


the Telecommunications Act 1984. This covers the regulatory and licensing regime for telecommunications systems as described above; and


the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949, the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1967 and the Marine etc. Broadcasting (offences) Act 1967.  These cover the regulatory and licensing regime for wireless telegraphy.  Part II of the 1949 Act regulates the prevention of interference.

The following are also reserved:


internet services; and


electronic encryption.


The subject-matter of Part III of the Police Act 1997 which sets out the circumstances in which the police may be authorised to interfere with property in order to carry out surveillance and other types of investigative work is excepted from the reservation.  This is consistent with the exception of the subject-matter of Part III of the 1997 Act from the reservation of National Security, Interception of Communications, Official Secrets and Terrorism - see Section B8.

Executive Devolution

The following functions have been included in the Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1750), as amended, with effect from 14 December 2000, by Article 4(3)(a) of S.I. 2000/3253

The Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 (c.54), section 5(1) (b).The function of the Secretary of State of authorising persons to use wireless telegraphy apparatus in order to obtain information as to the contents, sender or addressee of any message (whether sent by means of wireless telegraphy or not) and to disclose information about the same: but only so far as the function is exercisable for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime (within the meaning of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) or of preventing disorder

S.I. 1999/1750 also transferred non-statutory functions in relation to the management of the radio spectrum, principally in connection with police, fire and local government civil defence activities.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources