Warrants that may be issued under this Chapter

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:30 pm ar 12 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 2:30, 12 Ebrill 2016

I, too, welcome you to the Chair of this Committee, Mr Owen. It is a privilege to serve under your chairmanship.

The assurance that has just been asked for cannot be given because the whole purpose of the provision is to enable the secondary data of any of us in this room that is caught by a bulk interception warrant to be looked at without any further warrant. If my data is swept up in a bulk interception warrant, even though I am not the target it can be examined without a separate warrant. That goes for every member of the Committee, every member of the public and everybody residing in the British Isles. The neat distinction between people here and people abroad breaks down in relation to this clause. I want us to be clear about that. The Minister is making the case that that is perfectly appropriate and necessary and that there are sufficient safeguards in place, but he is not making the case that this would not happen for those in the British Isles. It can and undoubtedly does happen, and it will happen under this regime. That means that all our secondary data are caught by this provision, even where we are not the primary target.

The Minister pointed to the double lock and the roles of the Secretary of State and judicial commissioner. He took an intervention on that, but I want to be absolutely clear on what those roles are and how necessity and proportionality play out. Clause 125 sets out what requirements must be met by a bulk interception warrant. Subsection (3) says:

“A bulk interception warrant must specify the operational purposes for which any intercepted content or secondary data obtained under the warrant may be selected for examination.”

The Minister points to that and says that there has got to be an operational purpose, which is true. However, we then read just how specific that operational purpose is likely to be:

“In specifying any operational purposes, it is not sufficient simply to use the descriptions contained in section 121(1)(b) or (2)”.

Those are just the general descriptions of national security and preventing serious crime, so it is not enough to say that the operational reason is national security or to prevent serious crime. Well, good—that that is all that had to be specified, it would not be very much. However, the purposes may still be general purposes, so the operational purposes are likely to be very broad—necessarily so in practical terms, given that it is a bulk warrant.

The role of the Secretary of State and the judicial commissioner is to decide whether the warrant is necessary and proportionate according to those purposes. We keep using the words “necessary and proportionate”. We have to keep an eye on what the object of the necessity and proportionality is. The question for the Secretary of State and the judicial commissioner is whether it is necessary and proportionate for the very broad operational purposes that are permitted under clause 125. It is not a very detailed, specific examination by the Secretary of State or the judicial commissioner; nor could it be.

At some later date, there is further consideration when it comes to examination. If it was suggested that at the later stage of actual examination, rather than authority for examination, it goes back to the Secretary of State and judicial commissioner, that is just plain wrong. It does not go back at all. All that the judicial commissioner or Secretary of State do is to authorise the general purposes under the warrant. As far as selection is concerned, that is governed by clause 134(1) and (2). Subsection (2) specifies that:

“The selection of intercepted content or secondary data for examination”

—that is at the heart of what we are talking about—

“is carried out only for the specified purposes”.

That relates to back to subsection (1). It continues,

“only so far as is necessary”

—necessary to what? It then refers straight back to the “operational purposes” set out in clause 125. Even at that later stage, the question of necessity and proportionality is against the very broad operational purposes. The Minister has been very clear about this and I am not suggesting otherwise, but the idea that there is some forensic and carefully curtailed exercise that looks in detail at the individual circumstances of the case is pretty far-fetched. In the end, all anyone has to do is ask whether it is necessary or proportionate to the general operational purposes upon which the warrant was issued in the first place. That is very different from the test set out for targeted interception. It is the test that will be applied to all the secondary data of anybody in this room who ever finds themselves caught up in a bulk interception warrant. That is not far-fetched. There will be many bulk intercept warrants, which may well capture the content and secondary data of many members of the public who are not targets in any way.

As a result, although I applaud the Minister for his long and detailed answer, it was not very persuasive regarding the necessity of this scheme or the effectiveness of the safeguards. Simply saying that secondary data may be necessary to determine location is hardly enough to justify the provision. I recognise that secondary data are different to content and that bulk powers are different from targeted powers, but in the end, when this is unravelled, it shows that there is no effective safeguard. In the circumstances we will not divide the Committee on the amendment, but I reserve the right to return to the matter at a later stage. It goes to the heart of the Bill. When properly analysed and understood, the safeguard in this respect is barely a safeguard at all.