This Bill brings together all the powers available to law enforcement and the security services to gather and access communications and communications data. Most importantly it also enhances the safeguards and oversight arrangements which govern their use, establishing a world-leading regulatory system.
It introduces a 'double-lock' so that, following authorisation by the Secretary of State, interception warrants cannot come into force until they have been approved by a judge. It also creates a powerful new Investigatory Powers Commissioner to oversee how these powers are used.
Those who keep us safe must have powers fit for the digital age. Allowing the retention of internet connection records will let law enforcement identify communications services to which a device has connected. This will restore capabilities that have been lost as a result of changes in how people communicate.
The enhanced privacy safeguards at the heart of the Bill protect sensitive professions and the public at large. Protections for lawyers and journalists have been bolstered, and the Government will continue to work closely with industry. It is also welcome that the Government has published the first operational case for bulk powers, giving unprecedented detail on why the agencies need their existing powers and how they are used.
Investigatory powers have been the subject of three independent reviews over the last two years, which have played an important role in developing this Bill. Following the draft Bill published in November 2015, it was revised to reflect the majority of the recommendations made by the Joint Committee, Intelligence and Security Committee and the Science and Technology Committee.
The Bill will be subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny, following the normal Parliamentary timetable, so that it can be passed by the end of 2016.