The Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill would make changes to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The 2016 act provides a framework for the use of investigatory powers by the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement and other public authorities. This includes the power to obtain and retain communications. It also created the post of investigatory powers commissioner and includes a number of safeguards for the use of such investigatory powers, including a two-stage procedure for obtaining authorisations.

Following reviews of the 2016 act, the government stated that the legislation needed updating in light of international issues and rapid technological change. It said that these issues were affecting the ability of agencies to protect the public against serious crime and terrorism. The bill proposes changes including:

  • creating a new condition for the use of internet connection records to aid ‘target detection’
  • introducing an alternative, less stringent regulatory regime for the retention and examination of bulk personal datasets where individuals have little or no expectation of privacy (such as publicly available online telephone directories)
  • a new notification requirement which can be issued to selected telecommunications operators requiring them to inform the government of proposed changes to their products or services that could negatively impact the current ability of agencies to lawfully access data

Concerns have been raised by campaigners and tech companies about the possible impact of the changes proposed. In particular, some major tech companies (such as Meta and Apple) have warned that the new notification requirement may force them to withdraw services from the UK if it unduly impacts their ability to innovate and introduce new security features. Civil liberties groups have also raised general concerns about the breadth of the investigatory powers regime and the impact on privacy.

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