Time to think again – Draft Investigatory Powers Bill

JUSTICE welcomes the overwhelming Parliamentary consensus that the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill must be substantially redrafted to remove or revise overbroad, imprecise or vague powers and to strengthen crucial protections for individual privacy.

Since 2011, JUSTICE has called for a coherent, holistic rewrite of surveillance law to increase accountability and transparency, to provide clear powers necessary for the protection of us all and robust protections for the right of privacy.

The Joint Committee on the Investigatory Powers Bill – a cross-party group of MPs and Peers – adds its concerns to those expressed by legal professionals, academics, industry experts and civil society organisations, including JUSTICE.   The Committee identifies 86 separate areas for further work and highlights significant criticism of the Government’s proposals.

This echoes the crucial conclusions of the Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, that the Draft Bill is in parts “inconsistent and largely incomprehensible” and generally presents a “missed opportunity” to provide “the clarity and assurance which is badly needed”.

Only a few weeks ago the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee criticised the “poorly defined” and “broad and ambiguous” provisions in the Draft Bill.

The Government’s goal is to create a “world leading” surveillance framework.  More work is needed to meet that gold standard than can be achieved in the short timetable currently set for legislation.  JUSTICE urges officials and Ministers to pause and take this Bill back to the drawing board.   Any alternative approach would truly be a missed opportunity.

Andrea Coomber, Director, JUSTICE said:

“The UK has a once in a lifetime window to create a world class surveillance law, with security and privacy at its core.  Three Parliamentary watchdogs agree the Draft Bill falls far short.  To ignore considered cross-party calls for space to get it right would be a real missed opportunity.” 

Read JUSTICE’s full response to the Draft Bill, here.