Call for Evidence
Call for evidence
In the King’s Speech the Government announced that it would introduce an Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill which would give “the security and intelligence services the powers they need” at a time when “threats to national security are changing rapidly due to new technology”. The Government also stated in the King’s Speech that this Bill would “strengthen independent judicial oversight” of the security and intelligence services.
The Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 8 November 2023 and Second Reading took place on 20 November 2023.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights carries out scrutiny of legislation that engages human rights.
The Bill would make a number of amendments to the investigatory powers and procedures set out in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The provisions which are of particular interest to the Joint Committee on Human Rights include:
- Changes to the warrant procedures for Bulk Personal Data so the intelligence agencies can “more effectively make use of less sensitive data” (Part 1);
- Changes to the independent oversight regime (Part 2);
- Changes concerning communications data (Part 3), including its definition, the powers which can be used to lawfully access it, and the public authorities empowered to access it;
- The expansion of the power to access Internet Connection Records (clause 14);
- Changes to the notices regime (Part 4), including the expansion of the types of communications data which a telecommunications operator can be required to retain under a Data Retention Notice (clause 15) and a new notification requirement before changes are made to products or services which would negatively impact existing lawful access capabilities (clause 20).
Human rights engaged
Investigatory powers and covert state surveillance are often controversial in democratic societies as they have to balance two important concerns: first, the fact that such powers have the potential to protect against human rights violations and to safeguard the safety of individuals and national security; but second, that such powers have the capacity to interfere with individuals’ rights, particularly their rights to privacy and freedom of expression.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has been incorporated into domestic law through the Human Rights Act 1998, includes a number of rights that may be engaged by the measures proposed in the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill. For example:
- The right to respect for private and family life and the home is protected by Article 8 ECHR. The right is engaged by powers that allow for interference with an individual’s privacy, including powers which allow access to and retention of their data.
- The right to freedom of expression is protected by Article 10 ECHR. The right is engaged particularly where investigatory powers are used in such a way that information about journalists, journalistic sources and journalistic material can be accessed and retained.
Other international human rights instruments may also be engaged by the provisions of the Bill.
To help inform our legislative scrutiny we would welcome evidence from interested groups and individuals. The Joint Committee on Human Rights invites submissions of no more than 2,000 words.
The deadline for submissions is 17 January 2024.
In particular, the Committee is interested in receiving views on the following:
- Does the proposed Part 7A warrant regime for bulk personal data where there is “low or no reasonable expectation of privacy” comply with human rights obligations, particularly Article 8 ECHR?
- Does the introduction of a new ‘third party BPD warrant’ raise any human rights concerns?
- Do any of the proposed changes in Part 2 of the Bill to the oversight regime reduce the protection of human rights?
- Does the proposed expansion of public authorities’ access to communications data for purposes other than criminal prosecutions comply with Article 8 ECHR?
- Does the introduction of a notification requirement requiring operators to inform the Secretary of State if they propose to make changes to their products or services that would negatively impact existing lawful access capabilities raise any human rights concerns?
- Are the provisions expanding access to Internet Connection Records compatible with Article 8 ECHR? Do the provisions contain sufficient safeguards to ensure compatibility?
- Do any of the changes made by the Bill mean that journalists, journalistic sources or journalistic material can be interfered with in breach of Article 10 ECHR? Does the Bill contain sufficient safeguards to prevent breaches?
- Does the Bill give rise to any other significant human rights concerns?
Important information about making a submission
Written evidence must address the questions as set out above, but please note that submissions do not have to address every point. Guidance on giving evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons is available here.
In line with the general practice of select committees the Joint Committee on Human Rights is not able to take up individual cases. If you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament.
The Committee will decide whether to accept a submission and whether to publish it on its website. All written evidence will be considered by the Committee, whether or not it is published. If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online and will be available permanently for anyone to view. It can’t be changed or removed. If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will normally be published too. Please consider carefully how much personal information you need to share. If you include personal information about other people in your submission, the Committee may decide not to publish it. Your contact details will never be published.
If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission confidentially (meaning it won't be published), please say so the start of your evidence, and tell us why. This lets the Committee know what you would like but the final decision will be taken by the Committee.
If your evidence raises any safeguarding concerns about you or other people, then the Committee has a responsibility to raise these with the appropriate safeguarding authority. If you have immediate safeguarding concerns about yourself or someone else or specific allegations of illegal practices, you should contact the Police on 999.
We can’t publish submissions that mention ongoing legal cases – contact us if you are not sure what this means for you.
This call for written evidence has now closed.Go back to Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill 2023 Legislative scrutiny