A “landmark” document produced by the Conservative Government which sets out and governs the powers available to the police and the security and intelligence agencies when it comes to gathering and accessing electronic communications has received Royal Assent.
The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 will ensure that law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need in a digital age to disrupt terrorist attacks, but subject to strict safeguards and world-leading oversight.
The new legislation brings together and updates existing powers while radically overhauling how they’re authorised and overseen. It also creates one new power: the introduction of Internet Connection Records, which will be accessible by law enforcement and the intelligence agencies to disrupt terrorist attacks and prosecute suspects.
The legislation protects both the privacy and security of the general public by introducing:
• a ‘double-lock’ for the most intrusive powers, such that warrants issued by a given Secretary of State will also require the approval of a senior Judge
• a powerful new Investigatory Powers Commissioner to oversee how the powers are used
• new protections for journalistic and legally privileged material, and a requirement for judicial authorisation for the acquisition of communications data that identify journalists’ sources
• tough sanctions – including the creation of new criminal offences – for those misusing the powers