Warrants that may be issued under this Chapter

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 12 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 2:00, 12 Ebrill 2016

I am delighted to welcome you to the Chair, Mr Owen. In your absence, under the stewardship of Ms Dorries, we had enlightening and rigorous scrutiny of the early provisions of the Bill and had got to the point of considering the third group of amendments. They are complicated, as illustrated by the shadow Minister’s opening remarks. I was about to go into some detail about the safeguards that we have put in place. So that we are all up to speed, I will mention that I had referred briefly to the recommendations made by the independent reviewer, Mr David Anderson, in his report, “A Question of Trust”, in relation to this area of the Bill—the use of material recovered under bulk warrants. I had reminded the Committee that the provisions before us reflect that advice. The Government have essentially taken the advice of David Anderson and built it into the Bill that we are now considering.

The current bulk access safeguards under the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 have, of course, recently been scrutinised by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. After extensive argument, the tribunal ruled that the current approach fully met the UK’s obligations under the European convention on human rights. In particular, the tribunal ruled that it was not necessary to apply the protections that apply to content to related communications data—the other data associated with a communication but not its content that has been redefined as secondary data in the Bill—to ensure ECHR compliance.

Both targeted and bulk warrants authorise the collection of content and secondary data. That, I think, clears up one of the doubts that some Committee members may have had. A bulk warrant also authorises the circumstances in which content and secondary data can be selected for examination. The Secretary of State and the judicial commissioner, when authorising warrants, agree the operational purposes that determine what content and what secondary data can be examined. In other words, at the point when the warrant is issued, both the judicial commissioner, in the arrangements that we propose, and the Secretary of State, in those arrangements and now, are fully aware of the operational reasons for the request. There is no distinction in those terms—again, I think this addresses some of the points raised by the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras—between content and secondary data.

Where the difference comes is in relation to the additional protections for persons in the UK. In fact, the hon. and learned Gentleman made reference to this. The Bill makes it clear that examination of the content, once it has been collected, of data relating to persons in the UK can take place only when an additional warrant has been issued. People should bear it in mind that there will already be a bulk warrant authorising collection; this is a separate process from the collection of data. An additional warrant must be issued that specifically authorises examination. There is a warrant to collect data and another warrant to examine data, and at the point when those warrants are considered by the Secretary of State and, under these new arrangements, by the judicial commissioner, the purposes will be clearly defined. The Secretary of State will be aware of why the request is being made and why it matters.

We talked earlier, in a different part of our consideration, about authorising powers only where they are necessary because nothing else will do the job—the point raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I want to emphasise that those considerations, around the broad issues—they are no less important because of their breadth—of proportionality and necessity, will govern all these matters.