Throughout the lengthy consideration the Investigatory Powers Bill has enjoyed in both its draft and final form, the balance between security and privacy has been frequently considered and debated. This balance lies at the heart of the Government’s considerations, and I believe that this legislation will be both critical to our national security as well as protective of our personal privacy.
With regards to the notification of individuals, it seems to me that the new clause you support could very easily help criminals to evade investigation, arrest and prosecution. It is true that such people are more likely to be the subject of warrants because of their involvement in criminality, and this clause may aid them to alter their behaviour as a result of any such notification. However I am glad that changes have been brought forward to the Bill that mean if a serious error has been identified by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the individual concerned will be notified.
On the issue of bulk powers, I have to disagree as such provisions are crucial to Britain’s national security. These powers enabled over 90 per cent of the UK’s targeted military operations during the campaign in south Afghanistan, and they have been essential to identifying 95 per cent of the cyberattacks on people and businesses in the UK discovered by the security and intelligence agencies over the past six months. I should also point out that these powers are not new, the Bill simply introduces additional safeguards, which is to be welcomed.
Finally on the question of review, I understand the desire for ongoing review of the Bill’s provisions, but I am assured that this is already provided for. The operation of the Act is to be reviewed by the Secretary of State after five years, which is entirely appropriate. This Bill will need some time to bed in, and time will be needed to see what effect it has had. A two-year review runs the risk that the Government will not be in a position to properly assess its impact.