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Queen’s speech announces Investigatory Powers Bill

1 June 2015

The new session of Parliament was opened by the Queen last week and it is clear from her speech that the use and regulation of communications data and cybersecurity are high on the agenda. With a fully Conservative government in power, Parliament is keen to push ahead with the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill (formerly the Communications Data Bill) dubbed the ‘Snoopers Charter’.

The Government briefing paper confirms that the bill will aim to equip enforcement agencies with greater powers to combat terrorism and ensure public safety. The controversy lies in the practices the bill may potentially authorise enforcement agencies to use in order to do this.

The bill will require internet service providers and mobile operators to log much more data about what their customers are doing, including data on who people call, text, tweet and instant message. This data would then be accessible to enforcement agencies in the pursuit of tackling terrorism. Whilst these new powers are welcomed by the police and other enforcement agencies, civil liberties groups believe this to be disproportionate, mass surveillance and open to abuse in terms of its use.

A review by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, will be used to steer the bill’s substance but this is proving little reassurance for privacy campaigners.

The speech also mentioned an increased focus on cybersecurity although detailed plans were not given. Given that legislation in this area crosses many of the same issues around security and rights to privacy, it is likely to cause just as much controversy.

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