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UK government publishes Investigatory Powers Bill

Posted by Sam Frances on Friday, March 4th, 2016 at 11:16

On Tuesday 1 March, the UK government published its revised Investigatory Powers Bill.

The Bill was published less than three weeks after three parliamentary reports made a total of 123 recommendations for changes. Last week, Lord Strasburger, a member of the Joint Committee examining the original “Snoopers’ Charter”, said that such a move would be “a massive insult to Parliament”.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that the Bill “reflects the majority of the committees’ recommendations”.

The revised Bill we introduced today reflects the majority of the committees’ recommendations – we have strengthened safeguards, enhanced privacy protections and bolstered oversight arrangements - and will now be examined by Parliament before passing into law by the end of 2016. This timetable was agreed by Parliament when we introduced the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act in summer 2014.

Terrorists and criminals are operating online and we need to ensure the police and security services can keep pace with the modern world and continue to protect the British public from the many serious threats we face.

Other commentators have been less complementary, pointing out remaining flaws such as the persistence of extra-territorial powers in the new Bill.

We are disappointed to see that the revised Bill restates the UK Government’s assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction over foreign service providers and overlooks the scrutiny committee’s recommendation that the Government should give more careful consideration to the consequences of enforcing extraterritoriality. National laws cannot solve an international problem. If emulated around the world, the UK Government’s extraterritoriality clause would create a chaotic legal environment and unpredictability for companies, users, and agencies.

— Emma Ascroft, Senior Director, Public Policy at Yahoo.

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