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The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill was published by the Home Office on 4 November 2015. It seeks to update and consolidate existing legislation governing the use of investigatory powers, including the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The Draft Bill follows the publication in 2015 of three significant reports on investigatory powers, by the Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation; the Royal United Services Institute; and the Intelligence and Security Committee. All three reports concluded that the current framework was outdated, unworkable and in need of reform. They highlighted the need for greater transparency, more stringent safeguards and better oversight.

A previous attempt to reform this area of law, the Draft Communications Data Bill 2012, was abandoned under the Coalition Government as a result of differences between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The Draft Bill replicates a number of measures put forward in the Draft Communications Data Bill, but some of the more controversial proposals have been left out.

The Draft Bill makes provision for the issue of warrants for interception and equipment interference and for authorisations in relation to the acquisition of communications data. For the first time it requires that warrants should be subject to judicial, as well as ministerial, oversight. It also reforms the current oversight framework and provides for a right of appeal from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.


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