Written evidence submitted to the Public Bill Committee regarding the Investigatory Powers Bill

CDT recently submitted written evidence to the UK House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Investigatory Powers Bill. The Committee discusses each provision of the Bill, and decides whether to amend it before the entire House votes. CDT’s evidence, which combines both technical and legal expertise, will help the Committee better understand the harmful consequences of the Bill if it is enacted.

Our evidence makes the following points:

  • Bulk powers and the power to issue a thematic warrant would violate privacy rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Ambiguous language in the Bill would enable the government to demand backdoors for end-to-end encrypted communications. We argue that the Bill should be amended to ensure that end-to-end encryption will not be undermined in this way.
  • The Bill does not adequately describe which equipment interference (hacking) activities it would permit. This is especially problematic given that bulk equipment interference is permitted. This too would violate European Convention on Human Rights privacy protections.
  • Judicial Commissioners, who would approve surveillance warrants after the Secretary of State issues them, would not be able to fulfill their judicial role by reviewing the merits of each warrant. We recommend that the Bill be modified so that both the Judicial Commissioner and Secretary of State can review the merits of each warrant, to prevent the abuse of discretion by the executive branch.

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