I wrote to the chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Nicola Blackwood, at the beginning June 2016, expressing concerns about the Investigatory Powers Bill
Dear Nicola Blackwood MP,
The Investigatory Powers Bill will be debated by the House of Commons on Monday
and Tuesday next week. I am concerned about several aspects of the Bill. As my
MP, I want you to attend the debate and support the following amendments:
#Notification for individuals
NC1 or NC16
These amendments ensure individuals subjected to intrusive investigatory
powers will be notified after the fact where it would not jeopardise ongoing
investigations and operations. This mechanism provides greater transparency and
accountability for the use of these powers.
#Removal of bulk powers and Bulk Personal Datasets
390, 391, 392, 393, 394, 295, 396, 397, 398, 153, 154, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405,
406, 407, 408, 409, 410, 411, 412, 413, 414, 155, 156, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421,
422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 433, 434, 157, 158, 437, 438,
439, 440, 441, 442, 443, 444, 445, 446, 447, 448, 449, 450, 451, 452, 453, 454,
455, 456, 159, 160, 459, 460, 461, 462, 463, 464
Bulk suspicionless surveillance is unlawful, unnecessary, and a
disproportionate interference with everyone's right to live a private life.
These amendments remove the bulk powers from the bill.
# Review of the operation of the act
The rushing through of the bill, and the ever-changing technology that the Bill
relates to makes it essential that this Bill is reviewed every two years to
ensure the balance of providing security and privacy is met.
I just received the following response:
"Dear Mr Corrigan,
Thank you for contacting me about the Investigatory Powers Bill.
Please accept my apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
I certainly appreciate the strength of feeling on a Bill as
important as this, and it is undoubtedly crucial that it receives all proper scrutiny.
Indeed, I am confident that this is the case. The Bill passed its
Second Reading in the House of Lords on 27th June, and further detailed
examination will now take place in the House of
Lords, via Committee, on the 11th, 13th, 18th and 20th of July. This
highlights how seriously Parliament is taking this Bill,
and the extent to which it is deemed vital to ensure that the final legislation
is robust but balanced.
More broadly, I have consistently said that it is essential that
powers to monitor communications are confined to what is entirely necessary and
proportionate to protect our national security. Accountability is a key factor
in this respect.
You may be interested to know that the Science and Technology
Committee, of which I am Chair, conducted an inquiry into the technological
aspects of the Draft Bill earlier this year. It is clear that new tools are
needed to fight terrorism and crime in the twenty-first century, but the
potential impact that the draft Bill will have on our communication sector must
be carefully scrutinised. Our inquiry, exploring the technological implications
of the new powers proposed by the Home Secretary, and their consequences for privacy
and data security, is vital to ensuring we have robust mechanisms and
safeguards in place. Our report, Investigatory
Powers Bill: technology issues, was published on 19 January 2016. I
hope you find this reassuring.
Furthermore, there have been three independent reviews of
investigatory powers: by David Anderson; the Intelligence and Security
Committee of Parliament; and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). All
have agreed that agencies should have the power to acquire and use data
in bulk. The Home Secretary has also emphasised that the Investigatory Powers
Bill will not mean that security services have full access to look through an
individual’s browsing content, but rather would be able to access the domains
that have been visited i.e. ‘bbc.co.uk’ but not the page itself. The broad
range of evidence the Committee received from differing areas of industry
highlighted the issues we face with this Bill, including definitions of
‘communications data’ and Internet Connection Records (ICRs), which could be
seen to make it difficult to assess which data could fall into these
categories. It is of course vital that we analyse this and assess whether
access requirements and safeguards are appropriate.
However, and perhaps most importantly, there will
now be an independent review of the operational case for bulk powers, led by
David Anderson QC. The team, hand-picked by Mr Anderson, will consist of a
security cleared barrister who has significant experience working as a special
advocate acting against the Government in terrorism cases; a technical expert
who supported Mr Anderson on his investigatory powers review; and a former
senior law enforcement officer with significant operational experience and
knowledge of the use of a wide range of investigatory techniques. Groups such as Liberty and the Don’t Spy On
Us Coalition have also been consulted on design ideas for the process itself.
This review will be assessing the specific
question of whether bulk capabilities, as provided for in the Bill, are
necessary. The review team will critically appraise the need for bulk
capabilities, which will include an assessment of whether the same result could
be achieved through alternative, and ultimately less intrusive methods.
I have also received assurances from ministers that access to the
data itself will be tightly controlled. The Home Secretary has announced that
there will be a ‘double-lock’ authorisation process, meaning that warrants for
the most intrusive powers available to the agencies (such as the interpretation
of communications) will be subject to approval by a judge as well as by the
Secretary of State.
I would add that in response to concerns expressed during the
Commons Committee Stage, the Government tabled an amendment which made clear
that when carrying out their review of the decision to issue any warrant, the
Judicial Commissioner must do so with a sufficient degree of care, so as
to ensure that the Commissioner complies with their duties under clause five
(general duties in relation to privacy). I was pleased to see that there was
strong support from across the House for this amendment.
you again for taking the time to contact me and I hope you are reassured by my
response. I would encourage you to read our report, and I will also be
monitoring the progress of this Bill very closely to ensure that all
appropriate safeguards are in place. You can track
the progress of the Bill here.
of course, please don’t hesitate to contact me again if you have any further
of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon"