Have your say on the Investigatory Powers Bill

16 March 2016

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or an interest in the Investigatory Powers Bill which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

Investigatory Powers Bill 2015-16

Summary of the Investigatory Powers Bill

The Investigatory Powers Bill would overhaul the framework governing the use of surveillance by the intelligence and security agencies and law enforcement to obtain the content of communications and communications data. It follows three important reports published in 2015, all of which concluded that the law in this area is unfit for purpose and in need of reform, and a draft Bill that has been subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary committees.

Many of the capabilities for which the Bill provides have been in use for a number of years. Some are openly provided for in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, whereas others have been only recently avowed, having operated on the basis of vaguely drawn provisions in legislation governing the general powers of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Capabilities

The capabilities for which the Bill provides are:

  • The interception of communications,
  • The retention and acquisition of communications data,
  • Equipment interference, and
  • The retention and examination of bulk personal datasets.
  • Interception, acquisition of communications data, and equipment interference powers are provided for both on a targeted basis and in bulk.

The Government have said that the only new capability provided for by the Bill is the ability to require retention of Internet Connection Records, a kind of communications data that reveals the websites an individual has visited.

Oversight

The Bill would also reform the oversight regime for the use of these powers, replacing the three existing Commissioners with a single body of Judicial Commissioners led by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. For the first time, these Commissioners would bring an element of judicial oversight to the process of issuing warrants to the intelligence services.

Follow the progress of the Investigatory Powers Bill

The Bill was presented to the House on 1 March 2016. On Tuesday 15 March, the Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons where MPs debated the main principles of the Bill.

The Bill has now been sent to the Public Bill Committee where detailed examination of the Bill will take place. The Bill Committee is expected to hold oral evidence sessions on Thursday 24 March.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The Committee is expected to hold its first oral evidence session on Thursday 24 March and it would be extremely helpful to the Committee if written evidence was submitted by Wednesday 23 March in order to inform the debate. The Committee will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Thursday 5 May.

Please note: When the Public Bill Committee reports, it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it could report earlier than Thursday 5 May.

What should written evidence cover?

Your submission should address matters contained within the Bill and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware.

Your submission could most usefully:

  • suggest amendments to the Bill with explanation; and
  • (when available) support or oppose amendments tabled or proposed to the Bill by others with explanation

It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. The submission should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere.

If you have any concerns about your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below).

How should written evidence be submitted?

Your submission should be emailed to [email protected]. Please note that submissions sent to the Government department in charge of the Bill will not be treated as evidence to the Public Bill Committee.

Submissions should be in the form of a Word document. A summary should be provided. Paragraphs should be numbered, but there should be no page numbering.

Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered. To make publication easier, please avoid the use of coloured graphs, complex diagrams or pictures.

As a guideline, submissions should not exceed 3,000 words.

Please include in the covering email the name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for the submission. The submission should be dated.

What will happen to my evidence?

The written evidence will be circulated to all Committee Members to inform their consideration of the Bill.

Most submissions will also be published on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting.

The Scrutiny Unit can help with any queries about written evidence.

Scrutiny Unit contact details

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 020 7219 8387

Address: Ian Hook
Senior Executive Officer
Scrutiny Unit
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA

Image credit: iStock

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