Investigatory Powers Bill gains royal assent, becomes law

November 30, 2016 // 9:46 a.m.

Tags: #amber-rudd #house-of-lords #insecurity #investigatory-powers #ip-act #ip-bill #jim-killock #law #open-rights-group #privacy #security

The Investigatory Powers Bill is now the Investigatory Powers Act, as the controversial 'snooper's charter' receives royal assent and is enshrined in law.

Originally floated as the Communications Data Bill and shot down by the coalition government of the day as too invasive, the Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill) was reborn following the election of a Conservative government. The relaunch of the Bill was confirmed in the Queen's Speech of May 2015, and despite considerable objections the government confirmed it was ploughing ahead with what critics have dubbed the 'snooper's charter'.

Earlier this month the House of Lords passed the IP Bill without challenge, leaving only one hurdle before the Bill became a Law: royal assent. For those hoping that saner heads may prevail, including the Open Rights Group whose executive director Jim Killock described the Bill as likely to have 'an impact that goes beyond the UK's shores' in a promise to fight its passing, the following news will be unwelcome: the Queen has formally granted royal assent, allowing the IP Bill to become the IP Act and pass into law.

'This Government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe. The internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge. The Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation that provides unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection,' claimed Home Secretary Amber Rudd following the announcement. 'I want to pay tribute to the independent reviewers, organisations, and Parliamentarians of all parties for their rigorous scrutiny of this important law which is vital for the safety and security of our families, communities and country.'

The law includes granting the security services, armed forces, and police the right to actively break into computer systems for investigatory purposes and the requirement that all service providers in the UK keep a full record of all web and communications activity carried out by their customers for a period not less than 12 months and which is available to a wide range of government and non-government departments to search and analyse through a centralised portal. Members of Parliament are, naturally, excluded from being subject to such monitoring through an explicit exemption clause, as we all know they can do absolutely no wrong.
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