Investigatory Powers Bill receives Royal Assent…

Introduced as a counter-terrorism measure in September 2015 by then Home Secretary Theresa May, the Investigatory Powers Bill, otherwise known as the “Snooper’s Charter” received Royal Assent on the 29th November. Plans on how the Act will be implemented is being developed by the Home Office;and in due course will be revealed.

The main provisions of the Bill include:

  • Internet Service Providers to store records of your Internet Connection Record for 12 months for use by government agencies – this contains information such as every website visited, when it was visited, location of the visit and which device it was visited from etc.
  • The introduction of new powers for Intelligence Agencies and law enforcement to carry out ‘targeted interception’ – essentially hacking of communications.
  • The ability for intelligence agencies to obtain bulk personal datasets, which will likely include a “majority of individuals”.
  • An obligation for ISPs to provide unencrypted information for the Government and law agencies with a warrant.

The Bill proposes several powers which have raised considerable concerns amongst privacy campaigners, Members of Parliament and technology companies about the lack of privacy and security. A petition has been actioned with over 133,000 signatories who are calling for the Bill to be repealed.

The petition exposed numerous concerns about the Bill’s intrusiveness noting that information gathered could be open to exploitation and abuse. The Bill has commonly been defended by the argument that the end justifies the means;– mainly for national security reasons and public safety. However, this is not entirely true because public bodies are also able to consider an individual’s internet history for completely unrelated purposes such as collecting taxes or money owed to the Government.

Comment

Parliament is required after 100,000 signatures on any petition to consider holding a debate. In this instance, it is unlikely that another debate will occur due to the unfortunate timing, coupled with (being that it was just approved by the House of Commons), added to that the scrutiny the last debate received. It has been recommended though that this debate go ahead in order not to “undermine public confidence”; this however is not definitive.

The above is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact Nath Solicitors for further information.

17.12.16

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