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Understanding the Investigatory Powers Bill

Calum Jeffray
Briefing Papers, 6 November 2015
Terrorism and Conflict, UK, Securing Britain, Intelligence, Technology
The government's draft Investigatory Powers Bill is one of the most ambitious pieces of legislation laid before this Parliament. This briefing unpacks its implications

For some, the proposed bill is ‘neither a snooper’s charter nor a plan for mass surveillance’ but a welcome update to laws that have not kept pace with technological change, which will allow the police and intelligence agencies to operate effectively in a digital age.

For others, the bill constitutes a ‘breath-taking attack on the internet security of every man, woman and child’ in the UK, and is an attempt by the state to ‘grab even more intrusive surveillance powers’ to spy on its citizens. The draft bill goes into an unprecedented level of detail on the powers available to the government, and significantly increases the extent of legal safeguards and judicial oversight. It is now for politicians and the public to decide whether the right balance has been struck.

Given the technical and legal complexities of the subject matter, the draft bill is a lengthy document, totalling 299 pages including explanatory notes. This guide provides an overview of the proposed legislation, the main powers and safeguards it contains, and topics for debate.

The RUSI Independent Surveillance Review

Read the July 2015 report and recommendations of the Panel of the Independent Surveillance Review

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