Service of warrants outside the United Kingdom

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:00 pm ar 14 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

I wish to speak about the service and implementation of warrants outside the UK. What I have to say applies equally to clauses 35 and 36. The genesis of my submission is not corporate concerns but strict legal principle. Violation of that principle would have important international political and commercial implications.

The Minister said a moment ago that everyone must play their part; I presume that he meant in fighting terrorism and serious crime. I wholeheartedly agree, but everyone must play their part in accordance with law. Clauses 35 and 36 seek to replicate provisions that are already in DRIPA. At the time when DRIPA was passed, the Government claimed that RIPA had always had extraterritorial effect and that the provisions in DRIPA were simply intended as clarification, but that claim was misleading and ill-founded in law.

As I tried to indicate in my intervention a moment ago—it was partly in jest, as Conservative Members frequently complain about legislation from continental Europe, but it was also serious—in general terms, legislation passed by the UK does not have direct effect in other jurisdictions, just as we would not expect the law of France to have direct effect in the United Kingdom. For the Government to claim that RIPA had extraterritorial effect without the Act even saying so makes absolutely no sense.

The Minister referred to David Anderson’s report, “A Question of Trust”. David Anderson noted at paragraph 11.17 of the report that

“overseas service providers are generally unhappy with the assertion of extraterritoriality in DRIPA 2014, which they did not necessarily accept (despite the view of the UK Government) to have been implicit in the previous law and had not encountered in the laws of other countries.”

As a Scottish nationalist, I forebear from commenting on the unique assertion of the United Kingdom that its law applies in everyone else’s country when others do not claim that, but I will move on with the quote from David Anderson:

“While legal compulsion was in principle preferable to voluntary compliance, it was thought that the unilateral assertion of extraterritorial effect would be met by blocking statutes, was not ‘scalable to a global approach’ and was viewed as ‘a disturbing precedent’ for other, more authoritarian countries.”

There is a concern that, if the United Kingdom decides to tell the world that its legislation applies in other countries, it would be a spur for more authoritarian regimes to do likewise.

David Anderson went on to note that when countries seek to enforce their legislation extraterritorially, such powers might come into conflict with the legal requirements in the country in which the company that has been asked to comply through a legal request is based or stores its information. Companies explained to David Anderson that they did not consider it was their role to arbitrate between conflicting legal systems. That must be right. The protection of human rights should not be left to the good will and judgment of a company, nor indeed should the enforcement of important powers to fight terrorism and serious crime be left to the judgment of a company.

David Anderson went on to say that principled concerns had been expressed by companies:

“They expressed concerns that unqualified cooperation with the British government would lead to expectations of similar cooperation with authoritarian governments, which would not be in their customers’, their own corporate or democratic governments’ interests.”

During discussion of David Anderson’s reports, about the draft Bill and on Second Reading on the Floor of the House, we have heard frequently that the Bill, if the British Parliament gets it right, could be an international template. That is what worries me about the clauses: the example is not a good international one to set, unilaterally to declare that our law must apply in other countries, because there is a real risk that authoritarian regimes might do likewise. We would not want that.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Ceidwadwyr, South East Cambridgeshire

I am looking at the clause, which is not massively dissimilar to all the provisions in the White Paper about service on companies in or out of jurisdiction. The clause is on service, so I am struggling with the hon. and learned Lady’s talk about extraterritoriality.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

As I said, I am dealing with clause 35, “Service of warrants outside the United Kingdom”, and with clause 36, “Duty of operators to assist with implementation”, which serves clause 35 and imposes a duty on operators to assist with implementation outside the UK. That is why, as I said at the beginning of my submission, clauses 35 and 36 have to be discussed together.

I want to be clear that I am not saying that we should not have provisions that deal with extraterritorial enforcement, or that we should not have allowance for it. Clearly, we have to have that, but the question is how we go about it. Mutual legal assistance agreements have already been mentioned and, in my submission, the most appropriate and probably most successful way for the British Government to seek to access information held overseas or by companies based overseas, or to have provisions that will allow the Government to do so, is to extend and improve the use of the mutual legal assistance agreements.

In “A Question of Trust”, David Anderson concluded in recommendation 24 that

“the Government should…seek the improvement and abbreviation of MLAT procedures, in particular with the US Department of Justice and the Irish authorities”—

Ministers alluded to that—

“and…take a lead in developing and negotiating a new international framework for data-sharing among like-minded democratic nations.”

David Anderson’s report also referred to the work of Sir Nigel Sheinwald, and we have heard a bit about that already. David Anderson suggested that Sir Nigel’s could be the “decisive voice” in the matter. In a written statement in response to the Anderson review on 11 June last year, the Prime Minister said:

“the Government will be taking forward Sir Nigel’s advice, including pursuing a strengthened UK-US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process and a new international framework. As David Anderson recognises in his report, updated powers, and robust oversight, will need to form the legal basis of any new international arrangements.”

It is most regrettable that, in the light of what the Prime Minister said, this Bill is completely silent on the promised new framework. Instead, it simply returns to what I would submit is a rather lazy and potentially dangerous assertion of extraterritorial effect. It is concerning that a piece of legislation that purports to be comprehensive on this matter is silent on the significant issue of how surveillance operates in the global communications environment, despite the fact that the Prime Minister outlined the need for reform.

My argument is that these two clauses are wholly inadequate to achieve what the Government say they want to achieve. They fly in the face of legal principle and, importantly, they could cause international political difficulties as well as international commercial difficulties.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 1:15, 14 Ebrill 2016

I can deal with this in two minutes. First, of course these things are challenging. I said that at the outset. Secondly, David Anderson is very clear in recommendation 25 of his report—the recommendation after the one that the hon. and learned Lady quoted—that:

“Pending a satisfactory long-term solution to the problem, extraterritorial application should continue to be asserted in relation to warrants and authorisations…and consideration should be given to extraterritorial enforcement in appropriate cases.”

That was his consideration, and that is right. These are challenging matters, but, frankly, companies have to make grown-up decisions about where they operate. Conflicts and other issues are already dealt with in the Bill, and we are working with the US to address concerns and to negotiate a new framework.

I think it would be extraordinary, given the current state of multinational business and the increasingly global online environment, if we did not put provisions in the Bill to provide powers to take action where necessary. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 10, Noes 2.

Rhif adran 1 Christmas Tree Industry — Service of warrants outside the United Kingdom

Ie: 10 MPs

Na: 2 MPs

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 35 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Llafur, City of Chester

On a point of order, Mr Owen. A Division was called and the Doorkeeper announced a Division in Committee Room 14, at which point I made my way back into the room. I am not clear on the rules for Divisions, so I seek your guidance, but I was in the room at the time that my name would have been called. It was not called. I would have abstained anyway, but I seek your guidance on why my name was not called.

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Llafur, Ynys Môn

You have done my job for me. I indicated to the Opposition Whips that we were ready to take the vote, and they said yes. If you have an issue, it is with your own Whip. You have it on the record.