The government’s controversial Draft Investigatory Powers Bill was published in early November. Amongst other things, the Bill:
- Requires web and phone companies to store records of websites visited by every citizen for 12 months for access by police, security services and some public bodies.
- Makes explicit in law for the first time the Security Services’ powers for the bulk collection of large volumes of personal communications data.
- Makes explicit in law for the first time the powers of the Security Services and police to hack into and bug computers and phones. It also places new legal obligation on companies to assist in these operations to bypass encryption.
- Requires internet and phone companies to maintain “permanent capabilities” to intercept and collect the personal data passing over their networks. They will also be under a wider power to assist the security services and the police in the interests of national security.
A Committee has been formed to consider the key issues raised by the Bill, including whether the powers sought are necessary, whether they are legal and whether they are workable and clearly defined. The Committee is now inviting written evidence to be received by 21st December 2015 (call for evidence).
Some of the questions the Committee are inviting evidence on include:
- To what extent is it necessary for the security and intelligence services and law enforcement to have access to investigatory powers such as those contained in the draft Bill?
- Are there sufficient operational justifications for undertaking targeted and bulk interception, and are the proposed authorisation processes for such interception activities appropriate and workable?
- Should the security and intelligence services have access to powers that allow them to undertake targeted and bulk equipment interference? Should law enforcement also have access to such powers?
The Committee is due to report back by February 2016.
What will the effect be of the Investigatory Powers Bill on local authorities? Is it true that councils will be given powers to view citizens’ internet history (according to the Telegraph)? The answer is no.
Sam Lincoln has written an in-depth analysis of the bill, detailing and dissecting its various points. Please take a look here.
Sam has designed our RIPA E-Learning Package which is an interactive online learning tool, ideal for those who need a RIPA refresher before an OSC inspection. Our 2016 RIPA workshops will include an update on the Bill.