Investigatory Powers Act 2016

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Investigatory Powers Act 2016
Act of Parliament
Introduced by
Territorial extent England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Dates
Royal assent 29 November 2016
Other legislation
Amends
Status: Current legislation
Text of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (nicknamed the Snoopers' Charter)[1] is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that has been passed by both Houses of Parliament,[2] and the Queen signified her royal assent to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 on 29 November 2016.[3][4] Its different parts come into force on various dates from 30 December 2016.[5] The Act comprehensively sets out and in limited respects expands the electronic surveillance powers of the UK Intelligence Community and police. [5] It also aims to improve the safeguards on the exercise of those powers.

Drafting and scrutiny[edit]

In 2014 the UK government asked David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, to review the operation and regulation of investigatory powers available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, in particular the interception of communications and communications data, and to recommend change. This report[6] was published in June 2015 and recommended a new law to clarify these powers.[7]

The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill was published in November 2015, with a large number of accompanying documents, and a Joint Committee of the House of Commons and House of Lords was established to scrutinise the draft bill.[8] Some parts of the bill referring to bulk personal datasets came into effect in November 2015, before parliamentary scrutiny began.[9] The Joint Committee published its pre-legislative scrutiny report in March 2016. The Government accepted the vast majority of its 198 recommendations,[10] together with the recommendations of two other parliamentary committees that had scrutinised the draft Bill, and the revised bill was introduced in the House of Commons,[11] where it was subject to debate by Members of Parliament.[12][13]

In March 2016 the House of Commons passed the Investigatory Powers Bill on its second reading by 281 votes to 15, moving the bill to the committee stage.[14] The Labour Party and Scottish National Party abstained from the vote, while the Liberal Democrats voted against it.[15][16]

At the committee stage constitutional,[17] technology,[18] and human rights issues were examined. The Labour Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Harriet Harman, said:

The Bill provides a clear and transparent basis for powers already in use by the security and intelligence services, but there need to be further safeguards. Protection for MP communications from unjustified interference is vital, as it is for confidential communications between lawyers and clients, and for journalists’ sources, the Bill must provide tougher safeguards to ensure that the Government cannot abuse its powers to undermine Parliament’s ability to hold the Government to account.

— Harriet Harman, [19]

At this stage, at the insistence of the Labour Party, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation was commissioned to conduct a further review of the operational case for the bulk powers reserved under the Bill to the UK intelligence agencies: bulk interception, bulk collection of metadata, bulk equipment interference and the retention and use of bulk datasets. That review was conducted with the help of a small, security-cleared expert team, and together with 60 case studies, was published in August 2016.[20] Like the 2014-15 reports of the PCLOB[21] and National Academy of Sciences[22] in the USA, it is a significant information source for the utility of so-called mass surveillance techniques

On 16 November 2016 the House of Lords approved the final version of the Investigatory Powers Bill, leaving only the formality of Royal Assent to be completed before the Bill became law.[23]

On 21 December 2016, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared that the generalised retention of certain types of personal data is unlawful, although little is known as to how this will affect the Investigatory Powers Act at this stage.[24] As of the 29th of January 2017, many sources have since reported on the Investigatory Powers Act as if it is currently in action.[25][26][27][28] Draft codes of practice laid out by the Home Office in February 2017 did not provide insight on the Government's communications data code of practise, as it was for the Court of Appeal to decide how to apply the December ruling of the ECJ on data retention in member states.I[29] It was then reported in late February 2017 that the aspects of the Bill forcing communications service providers to retain data had been "mothballed" due to the ECJ ruling on the "general and indiscriminate" retention of communications data being illegal.[30]

Provisions of the Act[edit]

The Act:[31][32][33]

  • introduced new powers, and restated existing ones, for UK intelligence agencies and law enforcement to carry out targeted interception of communications, bulk collection of communications data, and bulk interception of communications;[34][35][36][37]
  • created an Investigatory Powers Commission (IPC) to oversee the use of all investigatory powers, alongside the oversight provided by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The IPC consists of a number of serving or former senior judges. It combined and replaced the powers of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Intelligence Services Commissioner, and Chief Surveillance Commissioner;[38][39]
  • established a requirement for a judge serving on the IPC to review warrants for accessing the content of communications and equipment interference authorised by a Secretary of State before they come into force;[40]
  • required communication service providers (CSPs) to retain UK internet users' "Internet connection records" – which websites were visited but not the particular pages and not the full browsing history – for one year;[41]
  • allowed police, intelligence officers and other government department managers (listed below) to see the Internet connection records, as part of a targeted and filtered investigation, without a warrant;[42]
  • permitted the police and intelligence agencies to carry out targeted equipment interference, that is, hacking into computers or devices to access their data,[43] and bulk equipment interference for national security matters related to foreign investigations;[44]
  • placed a legal obligation on CSPs to assist with targeted interception of data, and communications and equipment interference in relation to an investigation; foreign companies are not required to engage in bulk collection of data or communications;[31]
  • maintained an existing requirement on CSPs in the UK to have the ability to remove encryption applied by the CSP; foreign companies are not required to remove encryption;[31]
  • put the Wilson Doctrine on a statutory footing for the first time as well as safeguards for other sensitive professions such as journalists, lawyers and doctors;[31]
  • provided local government with some investigatory powers, for example to investigate someone fraudulently claiming benefits, but not access to Internet connection records;[31]
  • created a new criminal offence for unlawfully accessing internet data;[31]
  • created a new criminal offence for a CSP or someone who works for a CSP to reveal that data has been requested.[31]

Authorities allowed to access Internet connection records[edit]

List of authorities allowed to access Internet connection records without a warrant:[45][46][47]

Public debate[edit]

Does the UK really want the dubious honor of introducing powers deemed too intrusive by all other major democracies, joining the likes of China and Russia in collecting everyone's browsing habits?[48]

—Anne Jellema, head of the World Wide Web Foundation

The draft Bill generated significant public debate about balancing intrusive powers and mass surveillance with the needs of the police and intelligence agencies to gain targeted access to information as part of their investigations.[49][50] Although the Home Office said the Bill will be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights,[51] the content of the draft Bill has raised concerns about the impact on privacy.[52][53]

Privacy campaigners say the bill clearly lays out the mass surveillance powers that would be at the disposal of the security services, and want it amended so that the surveillance is targeted and based on suspicion and argue that the powers are so sweeping, and the bill's language so general, that not just the security services but also government bodies will be able to analyse the records of millions of people even if they are not under suspicion.[54]

In January 2016 a report published by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament recommended that the bill should focus on the right to privacy. Committee chairman, Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, said: "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 committee also recommended that Class bulk personal dataset warrants are removed from the legislation.[55] Dominic Grieve later clarified the extent of these freedoms, "the principle of the right to privacy against the state is maintained except if there is a good and sufficient reason why that should not happen."[56]

Gavin E. L. Hall, a doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham, argues that public fear of the bill is not justified, writing that there are benefits to formally codifying in law what state security services can and cannot do and that "While it may technically be possible under the bill to impugn individual freedom, John Bull has little to fear."[57]

The Register argued the Act enshrines parallel construction in law and allows the state to lie about the origins of evidence in court, treating it as infallible, and prohibit the defendant from questioning it.[58]

Article 19, a freedom of expression campaign group, criticized the Act as one of the most draconian pieces of surveillance legislation passed worldwide, warning that it "offers a template for authoritarian regimes and seriously undermining the rights of its citizens to privacy and freedom of expression".[59] The Chinese government cited the Snooper's Charter when defending its own intrusive anti-terrorism legislation.[48]

Recent Wikileaks articles suggest that phone and digital device tracking both direct and indirect (eg FM radio blipping via Android exploit) also mentioned in Register posts by "Anonymous Coward" to covertly follow subjects have been used in the past but for operational reasons it is not clear if they are still used. The original poster has since decided to cooperate with the authorities and not comment further publicly on this subject, though the technique was independently rediscovered before the article in question was released.

Legal challenge[edit]

In November 2016, a petition demanding the law be repealed ga100,000 signatures.[60] In December 2016, pornographic media site xHamster redirected UK traffic to the petition.[61] In March 2017, Liberty, a human rights organisation, raised £50,000 via crowd funding towards legal actions against the bill. Silkie Carlo, policy officer at Liberty, said:

The powers we're fighting undermine everything that's core to our freedom and democracy — our right to protest, to express ourselves freely and to a fair trial, our free press, privacy and cybersecurity. But with so much public support behind us, we're hopeful we will be able to persuade our courts to restrain the more authoritarian tendencies of this Government.

— Silkie Carlo, policy officer at Liberty[62]

In April 2018 the UK high court ruled that the Investigatory Powers Act violates EU law.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Griffin, Andrew (1 March 2016). "UK spying laws: Government introduces law requiring WhatsApp and iMessage to break their own security". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Warwick Ashford (17 November 2016). "Investigatory Powers Bill looks set to become law". computerweekly.com. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  3. ^ 'Extreme surveillance' becomes UK law with barely a whimper Published by The Guardian, November 19, 2016, accessed on the same day
  4. ^ editor, Alan Travis Home affairs (29 November 2016). "'Snooper's charter' bill becomes law, extending UK state surveillance". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Investigatory Powers Act goes into force, putting UK citizens under intense new spying regime Published by The Independent, 31 December 2016
  6. ^ David Anderson (2015-06-11). "A Question of Trust - Report of the Investigatory Powers Review (June 2015)". David Anderson QC Lawyer London UK. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  7. ^ "Surveillance powers: New law needed, says terror watchdog". BBC. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Draft Bills 2015-16". Parliament. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "Oral evidence: Draft Investigatory Powers Bill: Technology Issues HC573, Q.26 and Q.76" (PDF). Parliament. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  10. ^ "Government publishes Investigatory Powers Bill". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  11. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill 2015-16 to 2016-17". UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill: Remaining Stages". UK Parliament. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  13. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill: Committee Stage Report". House of Commons Library (Commons Briefing papers CBP-7578). 2 June 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  14. ^ Ryan Gallagher, U.K. Parliament Debates 'Snoopers' Charter, The Intercept (March 15, 2016).
  15. ^ Kelly Fiveash, MPs vote in favour of Investigatory Powers Bill after Labour, SNP abstain [Updated], Ars Technica (March 15, 2016).
  16. ^ Rowena Mason, Anushka Asthana & Alan Travis, 'Snooper's charter': Theresa May faces calls to improve bill to protect privacy, The Guardian (March 15, 2016).
  17. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill constitutional implications assessed by Committee". UK Parliament. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  18. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill: technology issues inquiry". Science and Technology Committee (House of Commons). 
  19. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill: direction of travel welcome, but improvements proposed". UK Parliament. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  20. ^ David Anderson (2016-08-16). "Report of Bulk Powers Review, August 2016". David Anderson QC Lawyer London UK. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  21. ^ https://pclob.gov/library/215-Report_on_the_Telephone_Records_Program.pdf (s215); https://pclob.gov/library/702-Report-2.pdf (s702).
  22. ^ Council, National Research (2015-01-15). Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence: Technical Options. doi:10.17226/19414. ISBN 9780309325202. 
  23. ^ "Investigatory Powers Act imminent as peers clear path for UK super-snoop law". Ars Technica. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  24. ^ Bowcott, Owen (2016-12-21). "EU's highest court delivers blow to UK snooper's charter". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  25. ^ "Challenges of complying with the Investigatory Powers Act". ComputerWeekly. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  26. ^ "You just became subject to some of the most intense spying laws ever". The Independent. 2016-12-31. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  27. ^ Bentley, Oscar (2017-01-29). "Nothing to hide, plenty to fear from prying PM". Nouse. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  28. ^ K; Braamskamp, L. Gates-Christine; Gilchrist, rew W.; Millward, James G. "Investigatory Powers Act 2016: How to Prepare For A Digital Age | Lexology". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  29. ^ "Investigatory Powers Act 2016: codes of practice - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. 
  30. ^ "UK forced to derail Snoopers' Charter blanket data slurp after EU ruling". 
  31. ^ a b c d e f g "UK surveillance powers explained". BBC. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015 ; "Details of UK website visits 'to be stored for year'". BBC. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  32. ^ "UK unveils powers to spy on web use, raising privacy fears". Reuters. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  33. ^ "Investigatory powers bill: the key points". The Guardian. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015 ; "Surveillance Q&A: what web data is affected – and how to foil the snoopers". The Guardian. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  34. ^ "Factsheet – Targeted Interception" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  35. ^ "Factsheet – Bulk Communications Data" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  36. ^ "Factsheet – Bulk Interception" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  37. ^ "Factsheet – Communications Data" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015 ; "Factsheet – Bulk Personal Datasets" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015 ; "Factsheet – Bill Definitions" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  38. ^ "Factsheet – Oversight" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  39. ^ "Factsheet – Investigatory Powers Commission" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  40. ^ "Factsheet – Authorisation" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  41. ^ "Factsheet – Internet Connection Records" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  42. ^ "Factsheet – Request filter" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  43. ^ "Factsheet – Targeted Equipment Interference" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  44. ^ "Factsheet – Bulk Equipment Interference" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  45. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill — Schedule 4 — Relevant public authorities and designated senior officers" (PDF). www.parliament.uk. Parliament. p. 212. 
  46. ^ Burgess, Matt. "Snooper's Charter is set to become law: how the Investigatory Powers Bill will affect you". WIRED UK. Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  47. ^ "The list of organisations that will be allowed to view your entire internet history". The Independent. 2016-11-24. Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  48. ^ a b Schweizer, Kristen (11 February 2016). "'Snooper's Charter' Would Make Brits Most Spied-Upon People". Bloomberg. Retrieved 11 February 2016. 
  49. ^ "May wrong to say surveillance bill creates judicial authorisation for interception, says Liberty – live". The Guardian. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  50. ^ "Will Europe call the shots?". Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  51. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill – European Convention on Human Rights Memorandum" (PDF). Home Office. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  52. ^ "The Guardian view on the draft investigatory powers bill: snooper's charter 3.0". The Guardian. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  53. ^ "Investigatory Powers Bill - Privacy Impact Assessment" (PDF). Home Office. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  54. ^ Viña, Gonzalo. "Surveillance: Taking liberties?". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  55. ^ "Internet monitoring bill 'must do more to protect privacy'". BBC News. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  56. ^ Third Reading of the Investigatory Powers Bill, Hansard, 6th June 2016.
  57. ^ Gavin E. L. Hall (10 March 2016). "Is the Snooper's Charter as Bad as You Think?". Fair Observer. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  58. ^ "The UK's Investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court". 
  59. ^ The Guardian, "Global press freedom plunges to worst level this century", 30 November 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/nov/30/press-freedom-at-all-time-low-journalist-safety-article-19-v-dem-study
  60. ^ Titcomb, James. "Petition to repeal new surveillance powers reaches 100,000 signatures". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  61. ^ McGoogan, Cara. "Porn website xHamster sends UK visitors to online petition against Snoopers' Charter". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  62. ^ Hopping, Clare. "Liberty launches legal challenge against Investigatory Powers Act". IT Pro. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  63. ^ Cobain, Ian (2018-04-27). "UK has six months to rewrite snooper's charter, high court rules". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-06-19. 

External links[edit]