Reports into Investigatory Powers

Published Friday, July 3, 2015

This Note provides a summary of the recommendations of recent reports, including the report of David Anderson QC, and supporting material on the use of investigatory powers.

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Over the twelve months prior July 2015, a number of reports have been published into the use of investigatory powers by public agencies in the UK. Those reports include:

• David Anderson QC, the Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, A Question of Trust: Report of the Investigatory Powers Review, June 2015

• The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Privacy and Security: A Modern and Transparent Legal Framework, March 2015

• The Annual Report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, September 2014

• The Annual Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner, June 2015

• The Report by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Intelligence and Law Enforcement Data Sharing, Sir  Nigel Sheinwald, June 2015

During a House of Commons debate on these reports on 25 June 2015, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that taken together they constitute a “substantial Independent Review” on the use of investigatory powers and the arrangements for their oversight. Although the reports differ in some of their conclusions, both the Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament have recommended for the overhaul of the current legislative framework for the use of investigatory powers and the replacement of legislation such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The introduction of new legislation on communications data was a commitment in the 2015 Conservative Manifesto. The Manifesto also stated that in government the Conservatives would seek to “maintain the ability of the authorities to intercept the content of suspects’ communications, while continuing to strengthen oversight of the use of these powers”. The Government has committed to introducing a bill on investigatory powers in the early part of 2016. To this end, the Government has stated that a draft bill would be presented for pre-legislative scrutiny in the autumn of 2015.

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