Clause 21 - Notification of proposed changes to telecommunications services etc

Part of Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:30 pm ar 7 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 3:30, 7 Mawrth 2024

Clause 21 is required to safeguard lawful access to critical data, which is needed by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to keep the public safe from serious threats such as terrorism and child sexual exploitation.

Technology has advanced rapidly since 2016, presenting a risk to lawful access capabilities. Notification notices have been introduced in response to technological advancements and will require relevant operators who provide, or are expected to provide, lawful access to data of significant operational value to inform the Secretary of State of any technical changes that they intend to make that will have an impact on existing lawful access capabilities.

The requirement will apply only to relevant services or systems specified within the notice, which will be agreed in consultation with the operator, prior to the notice being given, and will not necessarily apply to all elements of their business. It should be noted that technical capability notices already contain a notification requirement; this is not a new concept to the IPA. The clause replicates the power as a standalone obligation within notification notices.

To be clear, there is no ability within the notification process for the Secretary of State to delay, prevent or alter the roll-out of the operator’s intended change. The requirement is needed to provide the Secretary of State—and, by extension, operational partners—with time to identify and evaluate any potential impact that the change may have on lawful access capabilities. It will also be important in giving operational partners time to adjust their ways of working to ensure that lawful access is maintained. The primary objective of the obligation is to create an opportunity for collaborative working between operators and Government to protect the crucial capabilities required to keep people safe.

Amendments 6 to 13 are minor and technical amendments to ensure consistency of language throughout the clause and the IPA.