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Snooper's Charter: What you need to know about the Investigatory Powers Bill

Scott Carey | June 8, 2016
What you need to know about the Investigatory Powers Bill, how it may affect your communications and the response so far.

Update: 31/3/16: The Don't Spy On Us coalition, which includes the Open Rights Group and Privacy International, has said: "Proposals to collect the internet connection records (ICRs) of every UK citizen could cost more than £1 billion." This figure is based on a similar scheme which has since been dropped in Denmark due to the cost. The initial Home Office estimate for the storage of these records was just £174m over ten years.

- "Fuller justification" for bulk surveillance: "We believe that that the lack of a formal case for bulk personal datasets (BPDs) remains a shortcoming when considering the appropriateness of this power."

- There should be no power to ask foreign intelligence agencies to undertake surveillance where the UK authorities cannot, for example in the USA.

Update 4/3/16: The revised bill "explicitly bans our agencies from asking foreign intelligence agencies to undertake activity on their behalf unless they have a warrant approved by a Secretary of State and Judicial Commissioner."

- Hacking should be targeted: "Targeted interception and targeted equipment interference warrants cannot be used as a way to issue thematic warrants concerning a very large number of people."

- An annual report that must contain: "Information about the impact, results and extent of the use of powers in the bill so effective public and parliamentary scrutiny of the results of the powers can take place."

Writing for, Liberal Democrat MP Lord Strasburger, who sat on the joint committee, said: "This bill is a long way from the finished article. It needs more than mere tweaking, it needs to be fundamentally rethought and rebuilt. The Home Office should stop rushing to push it through and take its time to get it right."

The intelligence and security committee criticised the bill for a lack of clarity and transparency around powers and suggested wide ranging amendments to the bill. Mostly though the committee says that the bill could benefit from starting again, saying: "The draft bill adopts a rather piecemeal approach, which lacks clarity and undermines the importance of the safeguards associated with these powers.

"We have therefore recommended that the new legislation contains an entirely new part dedicated to overarching privacy protections, which should form the backbone of the draft legislation around which the exceptional powers are then built. This will ensure that privacy is an integral part of the legislation rather than an add-on."

The science and technology select committee report confronted concerns over the impact the legislation could have on the UK's technology sector; equipment interference powers and a lack of clarity when it comes to the issue of encryption.

Nicola Blackwood MP, chair of the science and technology committee said: "It is vital we get the balance right between protecting our security and the health of our economy. We need our security services to be able to do their job and prevent terrorism, but as legislators we need to be careful not to inadvertently disadvantage the UK's rapidly growing tech sector."


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