The government has opened a consultation to get input on possible changes to its still-controversial Investigatory Powers Act (2016) – aka ‘The Snoopers’ Charter’.
This is significant, as the HMG itself notes that the government does not normally consult on such regulations.
The reason: Brexit, and EU critiques of the law – which critics at the time and since feel is too wide-ranging.
A year ago (December 2016) The European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a number of concerns and demanding a number of changes it says need to be in place for a data retention regime to be compliant with EU law.
The ECJ set out requirements that need to be in place for a data retention regime to be considered compliant with EU law. The ECJ said that it was a matter for the domestic courts to consider how its judgment should be applied to national legislation.
Effectively, the Tories had to agree – admitting that some aspects of the IPA are indeed “inconsistent with EU law”, in that there is no provision for independent authorisation of requests for access to retained data and the stated purpose for retaining and accessing data is not limited to serious offenses only.
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Thus this process, sparked by “the ongoing public interest in investigatory powers” – meaning lawmakers want to consult on potential changes to the legislative regime in order to inform the legislative response and subsequent Parliamentary debate.
It says it also consulting on the draft communications data code of practice, which provides more detail on how the new regime will work in practice.
Westminster says it is open to ideas and criticism of the Act from telecommunications and postal operators, public authorities that have powers under the legislation, professional bodies, interest groups and “the wider public”.
The consultation closes on January 18, and we encourage anyone who’s been following the debate to consider adding their views to the discussion.