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.

Related posts

  • Current Affairs Digest: Home Affairs (May 2024)

    In recent years, there has been a fall in levels of trust and confidence in policing. This followed a series of high-profile scandals, some of which involved serious offences committed by serving police officers. This briefing explores the role of media coverage in changing public perceptions of policing and also reports on calls by various parties to improve the current levels of confidence.

    Current Affairs Digest: Home Affairs (May 2024)
  • Cyclists and the law

    Currently, cyclists who ride dangerously or carelessly can be prosecuted for various offences, including those contained in the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended). In 2024, the government said it was introducing a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling. This briefing summarises the existing laws and proposals for creating new offences ahead of a forthcoming debate in the House of Lords.

    Cyclists and the law
  • Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill: HL Bill 73 of 2023–24

    The Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 13 May 2024. The bill seeks to fulfil the commitment made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on 10 January 2023 to quash the convictions of those convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal. It would extend and apply to England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its provisions would come into force at royal assent. During committee stage the bill was extended to Northern Ireland. There have also been calls for it to be extended to Scotland. The bill has received cross-party support but is controversial as the quashing of convictions by Parliament is unprecedented. In addition, concerns about the scope of the bill have been raised. The bill would not include individuals whose convictions were previously upheld by the Court of Appeal.

    Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill: HL Bill 73 of 2023–24