In her annual address at the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen has confirmed that the Communications Data Bill, freshly rebranded as the Investigatory Powers Bill, is set to return under the new Conservative government.
Measures will also be brought forward to promote social cohesion and protect people by tackling extremism. New legislation will modernise the law on communications data, improve the law on policing and criminal justice, and ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs.
Although the full details of the Investigatory Powers Bill are yet to be revealed, the background briefing to the Queen’s Speech paints a familiar picture. In particular, the briefing restates the familiar claim that the Internet has created a “capability gap” for the intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
The legislation covers all investigatory powers including communications data, where the Government has long maintained that the gap in capabilities are putting lives at risk.
[The Bill will] address ongoing capability gaps that are severely degrading the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies ability to combat terrorism and other serious crime.
It remains to be seen to what extent the government will take into account the advice of the Joint Committee on the Communications Data Bill, which cautioned that “there needs to be some substantial re-writing of the Bill before it is brought before Parliament”, and criticised the government’s failure to consult with industry.
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