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Snoopers’ Charter revived in Queen’s Speech

Plans to modernise communications laws, combat cyber attacks and terrorism have been sketched out in the Queen’s Speech. 

At the symbolic State Opening of Parliament, essentially a To Do list for the new government with added pageantry, Queen Elizabeth II mentioned that reform of laws on communications data was on the cards. 

The new Investigatory Powers Bill is one of the proposed laws on this list and it appears to attempt to do what the Communications Data Bill – the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ that was scuttled by the Lib Dems – failed to. 

Full details of the Bill are expected to be published over the coming days, but for now we know that it aims to:  

  • Provide the police and intelligence agencies with the tools to keep you and your family safe.
  • Address ongoing capability gaps that are severely degrading the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies ability to combat terrorism and other serious crime. 
  • Maintain the ability of our intelligence agencies and law enforcement to target the online communications of terrorists, paedophiles and other serious criminals.
  • Modernise our law in these areas and ensure it is fit for purpose.

It’s unclear as to how the Investigatory Powers Bill will ‘provide for appropriate oversight and safeguard arrangements,’ or if it will require UK ISPs to collect more information on their subscribers. 

Benefits of the planned law include closing said capability gap of security services, targeting the online communications of terrorists. 

The DRIP (Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act), rushed through last July, requires ISPs to retain data relating to IP addresses, which police can use to determine who has been talking to who online – but not what. 

This Act came with a sunset clause which would see it expire in December 2016 – if it’s not superseded by the Investigatory Powers Bill before then. 

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