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Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill

Volume 740: debated on Thursday 9 November 2023

The Government introduced the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill in the House of Lords yesterday, as committed to in the King’s Speech at the start of this parliamentary Session.

Building on the recent statutory report published by the Home Secretary on the operation of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA) since it came into force— —this Bill will make urgent and targeted amendments to the IPA to ensure that our security and intelligence agencies have the right tools at their disposal to keep the country safe.

The key elements of the Bill include:

Making changes to the bulk personal dataset regime, which will improve the security and intelligence agencies’ ability to respond with greater agility and speed to existing and emerging threats to national security.

Expanding the oversight regime to support the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to effectively carry out their role, including putting more of their functions on a statutory basis. This will maintain the robust, transparent, and world-leading safeguards in the investigatory powers regime.

Reforming the notices regimes, which will help the UK anticipate the risk to public safety posed by the rolling out of technology by multinational companies that precludes lawful access to data. This would reduce the risk of the most serious offences, such as child sexual exploitation and abuse or terrorism, going undetected.

Updating the conditions for use of internet connections records to ensure that these can be used effectively to target the most serious types of criminal activity and national security threats without a corresponding increase in levels of intrusion.

Increasing the resilience of the warrantry authorisation processes which will allow for greater operational agility for security and intelligence agencies, as well as for the National Crime Agency, in its investigations and support it to tackle the most serious national security and organised crime threats.

These new measures will:

Update the IPA to reflect that the world has changed significantly since 2016. Technology has rapidly advanced, and the type of threats the UK faces continue to evolve.

Enable the security and intelligence agencies to keep pace with a range of evolving threats, against a backdrop of accelerating technological advancements that provide new opportunities for terrorists, hostile state actors, child abusers and criminal gangs.

Ensure that the security and intelligence agencies can develop the necessary tools and capabilities to rapidly identify intelligence insights from vast quantities of data, allowing them to better understand and respond to threats to the UK.

These limited and targeted reforms to the IPA do not create new powers but, instead, recalibrate elements of the current regime to ensure that it remains fit for purpose to respond to modern threats.

This Bill has been developed in close partnership with the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office. The measures being taken forward have also been driven by the recommendations made in the Home Secretary’s review and the independent review by Lord Anderson KBE KC which was published in June 2023: