Overview of the Bill
1 The Investigatory Powers Bill provides an updated framework for the use (by the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement and other public authorities) of investigatory powers to obtain communications and communications data. These powers cover the interception of communications, the retention and acquisition of communications data, equipment interference for obtaining communcations and other data. It will not be lawful to exercise such powers other than as provided for by the Bill. The Bill also makes provision relating to the security and intelligence agencies’ retention and examination of bulk personal datasets.
2 Section 7 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 required David Anderson QC, in his capacity as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, to conduct a review of existing laws relating to investigatory powers. David Anderson published his review in June 2015. This Bill responds to the recommendations made in that review and those of the reviews undertaken by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) and the Panel of the Independent Surveillance Review convened by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). All three reviews agreed that investigatory powers remain essential in tackling the current and evolving threats to the United Kingdom.
3 The draft Bill was published for pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of Parliament on 4 November 2015. The Committee took evidence from a broad section of witness including the Government, Parliamentarians, law enforcement, judicial commissioners, lawyers, journalists, academics, civil society groups, communications service providers and charities and victims groups. It also published 148 submissions of written evidence of over 1,500 pages. The Committee’s report, including its recommendations, was published on 11 February 2016.
4 In addition to the Joint Committee, a number of other Committees were involved in scrutinising the draft Bill. The ISC published a report on 9 February 2016, building on the Committee’s 2015 Privacy and Security report. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee also conducted an inquiry into the Bill. The Science and Technology Committee focused on the obligations that will be placed on communications service providers and the feasibility and costs associated with implementing the Bill’s provisions. Their report was published on 1 February 2016.
5 Following pre-legislative scrutiny, the Government introduced a revised Bill, accompanied by further explanatory material, on 1 March 2016.