Government issues draft Investigatory Powers Bill

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill was issued today and will now be examined in detail by both Houses of Parliament before a final Bill is produced. Making a statement in the House of Commons, Theresa May, Home Secretary, said that the final Bill will be published in the spring.
She stressed that the Bill is not about mass surveillance. “It is right that those protecting us have the powers to do so”. She said the draft Bill was not a return to a ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ as the government has listened to the criticism and looked particularly at transparency and oversight mechanisms. She said that most of the recommendations made in the Anderson report have been taken on board.

The 299 page draft Bill proposes a two-stage route for the authorisation of warrants for interception. Firstly, the Secretary of State and then a senior judge, to be appointed by the Prime Minister. However, she said that in emergencies, the Secretary of State would be authorised to issue a warrant immediately without the judge’s involvement at that point.

The Bill replaces some sections of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, RIPA. Mrs May said that the Bill does not ban encryption – an issue that has been much debated.

Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said: “At first glance, it appears that this Bill is an attempt to grab even more intrusive surveillance powers and does not do enough to restrain the bulk collection of our personal data by the secret services. It proposes an increase in the blanket retention of our personal communications data, giving the police the power to access web logs. It also gives the state intrusive hacking powers that can carry risks for everyone's Internet security.”

Read more about the draft Bill in the November issue of PL&B UK Report.