The Investigatory Powers Bill

Original Author: Assent Risk Management
Original Links: N/A


A bill that affects the privacy of every Internet user in the UK is currently going through parliament, considered necessary to protect the UK by some but an increase in state surveillance by others. Either way, it’s likely to affect you!


Retaining a Year’s Worth of Communication Data

The Investigatory Powers Bill will require service providers such as mobile phone companies and broadband suppliers to retain records for a year detailing user activity such as which websites have been visited, for how long and which pages were accessed etc.

This is significant because it will allow authorities to view historic usage data, whereas currently they have to request service provider to recording this data on a case—by-case basis by which time it can be too late to prevent an act.

However, this does raise privacy concerns for the data of innocent citizens being recorded and accessible.


Targeted Interception

The bill also incorporates targeted interception, which is a tool currently available to security services.

Targeted interception involves the actual content of a message being disclosed however only 9 agencies will be able to undertake this activity and under this bill an interception warrant issued by the secretary of state must be approved by a Judicial Commissioner in a ‘double lock’ process.



Targeted Equipment Interference – Hacking

The ability to remotely or physically exploit a computer or other device in order to access data from it is also protected by the ‘double lock’ process described above.

The Bill also creates new powers that will require the communication service provider to assist in this where necessary.


Collection of Bulk Communications Data

Security services will continual to be able to collect bulk communications data to be analysed at a later date where it affects national security however this will also be subject to the ‘double lock’ warrant mechanism.



The bill is currently making it’s way through parliament, however in the light of recent terror attacks within Europe, the balance of privacy vs protection may be changing and there could be enough momentum for the bill to be passed fairly quickly.