Understanding #DRIP: new spy powers being rammed through UK Parliament


If it doesn’t introduce new powers or capabilities, what are they claiming is the purpose of the legislation? The purpose that is so innocuous that the bill must be passed swiftly and without debate.

Orwell was British, right? Just saying…

Response I got from my Tory MP

"Thank you for your e-mail about the emergency Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill.

I appreciate your concerns on this issue. No-one introduces fast-track legislation lightly, but the consequences of not acting are grave. Communications data and interception helps keep people safe from terrorists and other serious, dangerous criminals. Communications data is used in 95 per cent of all serious and organised crime prosecutions, and every major counter-terrorism investigation over the last decade.

But we face losing these powers that are used to counter the threats we face from terrorists and organised criminals. The European Court of Justice has struck down regulations that let internet and phone companies retain communications data for law enforcement purposes for up to 12 months. As well as this, some companies are calling for a clearer legal framework to underpin their cooperation with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to intercept what terrorists and serious criminals are saying to each other. This is the ability to access content with a warrant signed by a Secretary of State.

The emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill will enable agencies to maintain existing capabilities. It will respond to the ECJ judgment on data retention and bring clarity to existing law in response to the concerns of some companies. It is a narrow and limited response to the set of specific challenges we face. It solves the immediate problems at hand. Importantly, the Bill includes a termination clause so it will fall at the end of 2016 – forcing the government to look again at these powers.

You may also be interested to know that the Government has introduced a number of measures alongside the Bill which will strengthen the oversight of intelligence powers. Between now and 2016, the Government will review the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act to make recommendations to reform and update it. The Government is also establishing a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to ensure civil liberties are properly considered when the Government sets counter-terrorism policy.

The Government is also restricting the number of public bodies that can ask for communications data and publishing annual transparency reports. This will make more information publicly available than ever before.

I believe that the action this Government is taking will ensure we maintain powers to help keep us safe from those who would harm UK citizens. That was and remains my top priority."

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