My Lords, in the digital age, the convergence of the internet with social media, combined with the rise of cheap but sophisticated internet-enabled devices, has given criminals, terrorists and hostile foreign states new means to attack us. Those who engage in organised crime, child sexual exploitation, drug crime and terrorism are resorting to ever-more sophisticated means to avoid detection and prosecution. As we remember today those who died in the horrific attack in Tunisia a year ago, it is worth reflecting on the way that Daesh in particular has exploited the internet and social media to distribute large quantities of often sophisticated online propaganda to radicalise and recruit large numbers of people here and in other countries.
Today’s Bill ensures that law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies retain their crucial powers to intercept communications and obtain communications data. However, it also radically overhauls the framework in which the exercise of those powers is authorised and overseen. It creates a “double lock”, introducing for the first time judicial authorisation of the most intrusive investigative techniques, it consolidates oversight into the new strengthened office of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and it sets a new standard for transparency and accountability in the exercise of covert powers by the state.
The Bill is the culmination of two years’ work, and it is worth detailing the lengths to which we have gone to ensure that the Bill is rigorously scrutinised. There have been three independent reviews of investigatory powers, conducted by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, the independent surveillance review panel convened by the Royal United Services Institute, and the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC. Three committees of Parliament have also examined the Bill: the Commons Science and Technology Committee, the Intelligence and Security Committee, and a Joint Committee of both Houses convened specifically to examine the draft Bill. Their reports all endorsed the principle of the Bill, and the Bill and codes of practice now reflect the vast majority of their recommendations. In total, 14 Commons Public Bill Committee sessions pored over it, with more than 800 amendments considered. Alongside this, we have published draft codes of practice, operational cases, fact sheets, memoranda and detailed responses to the reports on pre-legislative scrutiny. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Murphy, who chaired the Joint Committee, as well as to the noble Lords who served on the committees. Their work, and the debate in the other place, has strengthened the Bill that reaches us today.
This is a Bill that passed on a cross-party basis with an overwhelming majority. It will provide world-leading legislation setting out in detail the powers available to the police and the security and intelligence services. It will also provide unparalleled openness and transparency about our investigatory powers.
I turn to the detailed provisions of the Bill. The Bill deals with a wide range of issues: privacy; targeted interception; retention of communications data; bulk powers; legislative oversight; and other technical considerations. It is important to emphasise that the Bill brings together existing powers in a clear and comprehensible way, in the process improving transparency, bolstering safeguards and strengthening oversight. It introduces just one new power—the retention of internet connection records—which I will come to presently and which I know the House will want to examine thoroughly.
I will take each area in turn. I begin with privacy. Recognition of the right to privacy is woven into the very fabric of the Bill, so Part 1 deals with the privacy protections that apply to the use of these powers, as well as the offences and penalties for their misuse. That is reflected in Clause 2, dubbed the “privacy clause”, which sets out the important principles that underpin the exercise of the Bill’s functions. On Report in the Commons, the Government supported an opposition amendment to ensure that authorisation of interception under the Bill could not be sought for the purpose of interfering with legitimate trade union activity. We will bring back amendments to ensure that this applies to all powers in the Bill.
Part 2 brings us to the use of targeted interception and is worth considering alongside Part 5, which deals with the use of targeted equipment interference. Interception in some form is used in support of the majority of MI5’s top-priority counterterrorism investigations. Between 2013 and 2014, interception capabilities played a critical role in law enforcement investigations which resulted in more than 2,200 arrests and the seizure of over 750 kilograms of heroin, 2,000 kilograms of cocaine, 140 firearms and £20 million. Equipment interference under the Police Act 1997 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994 is a vital capability for law enforcement and the agencies and, in the face of increasingly capable hostile actors, is becoming more important as a means of supplementing and, in some cases, replacing interception capabilities.
Both those powers are used to obtain the contents of communications, and so are among the most intrusive available to the state. That is why they are subject to the double lock: a Secretary of State may issue a warrant only after the decision to do so has been approved by a judicial commissioner. There was much debate in the other place about the basis on which judges will review decisions to issue warrants. The Government amended the Bill as a result of that debate. It is now clear that the judicial commissioner must give careful consideration to the matters before them and that the protection of privacy must be central to that consideration.
Parts 3 and 4 deal with the retention of, and access to, communications data. The term “communications data” does not refer to the content of a communication; it relates to when, how and where a communication was made, and by whom. The law already requires the retention of certain types of information data by communications service providers. This is vital. Some 58% of requests for communications data in child abuse investigations are for data that are more than six months old. In a Europe-wide investigation into online child sexual exploitation, of 371 suspects identified in the UK, 121 arrests or convictions were possible; of 377 suspects in Germany, which does not retain communications data, no arrests were made.
Part 4 contains the only new power in the Bill: the ability to require a telecommunications operator to retain internet connection records—ICRs. An ICR is a record of which internet service was accessed. It is not, as is sometimes supposed, a full web-browsing history. Law enforcement faces a growing capability gap. The Joint Committee that scrutinised the draft Bill agreed that ICRs are necessary to close that gap. To take an example, of 6,025 cases relating to the sharing of child abuse imagery referred to the CEOP command of the National Crime Agency, 862—that is 14%—would require the retention of ICRs to have any prospect of identifying a suspected paedophile. During consideration of Parts 3 and 4 of the Bill in the other place, the Government committed to introduce a threshold for access to internet connection records to ensure that they cannot be used to investigate trivial offences. This will complement the other rigorous safeguards restricting the circumstances under which ICRs can be accessed by public bodies. I will bring amendments to this House in the coming weeks and months to give effect to this commitment.
Parts 6 and 7 deal with the bulk powers in the Bill and the retention and use of bulk personal datasets. The powers available to the security and intelligence agencies to acquire communications and other data in bulk are vital to their work. The Government published an operational case for bulk powers alongside the Bill. As that sets out, bulk powers are used to gather large volumes of data. These data are subject to very stringent controls to filter the material and select for examination a small fraction of the material that provides intelligence on known threats and to identify new ones. None of the bulk powers in the Bill is new. The collection of large volumes of data is essential to enable the data which are not of interest to be filtered out and search criteria applied so that fragments of intelligence can be gathered and pieced together in the course of an investigation. These data may not be available by other means. The threat from terrorism and the development of technology is such that the bulk powers will inevitably become more important than ever in the future.
It is right that the safeguards and protections associated with these powers are now a matter for Parliament. However, there is more that can be done to provide the public and Parliament with reassurance that the case that stands behind these powers is clear. That is why the Government commissioned David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, to examine the operational case for the bulk powers in the Bill. That review will conclude in time to inform this House’s consideration of the relevant clauses in Committee.
Part 8 of the Bill deals with the oversight of these powers. At its heart is the creation of a powerful new Investigatory Powers Commissioner. During the Report stage, the Government committed to strengthen the process for appointing that commissioner, so that appointments will be on the joint recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice, his or her devolved equivalents and the Lord Chancellor. We will bring back an amendment to this end. We will also ensure that the Intelligence and Security Committee can refer matters to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner for investigation on behalf of Parliament.
Part 9 of the Bill deals with other general provisions, including technical capability notices and national security notices. We have amended the Bill to ensure that these notices are now also subject to the double lock. Part 9 also provides for the Secretary of State to review the operation of the Bill after five years and to report to Parliament with his or her findings. It is my hope and expectation that the Secretary of State will be assisted in that work by a Joint Committee of Parliament and the Intelligence and Security Committee.
These are all important powers, but this Bill provides for them to be exercised only when it is necessary and proportionate to do so. It does not give free rein to public bodies to intrude upon the privacy of citizens without proper justification and authorisation. In fact, it strengthens the checks and balances applied, adds safeguards, bolsters oversight and sets out the privacy considerations which must be applied to any application to use the powers. I welcome the constructive and thoughtful debate that has characterised the passage of this Bill to date. It reflects the importance of this legislation and the need for us to get it right. I very much hope that the progress of the Bill through this House will continue in the same vein. There is a long list of Peers who wish to speak, all of whom are experienced in these matters and from whose knowledge and expertise we will undoubtedly benefit. I look forward to hearing them.
But before I conclude, it is important to say this: in the two years that have passed since this House considered the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, the world has become a more dangerous place. There have been attacks in Orlando, in Paris, in Brussels, in Tunisia, in Jakarta, in Turkey and elsewhere in the world. The NSPCC reports that eight offences a day are committed against children via the internet. This month, we saw the prosecution of organised criminals seeking to smuggle into the UK more than 30 machine guns and more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition. All these events remind us of the ongoing risks faced by law enforcement and the intelligence agencies every day. The challenge of this Bill is to balance the need to give the police, the Armed Forces and the security and intelligence agencies the powers they need to keep us safe in a changing and uncertain world while ensuring that those powers are subject to strong safeguards and robust oversight. I believe this Bill strikes that balance. For that reason, I commend it to the House. I beg to move.
My Lords, the Investigatory Powers Bill seeks to address an issue that, in theory, is simple and straightforward: namely, the appropriate balance between individual privacy and collective security in the digital age. However, what make it in reality a far from simple and straightforward issue are the very different views on where that appropriate balance lies.
The vote in the referendum last Thursday to leave the European Union has, potentially at least, added to the complexity, since it has raised the question of what the implications of that decision might be for the proposals in the Bill and their effectiveness and relevance, bearing in mind the considerable co-operation with what are still, at this moment in time, our European partners over security and intelligence issues and the European arrest warrant in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. What happens if the present level of co-operation is scaled down? If it were scaled down, would it happen only from the day we left the European Union or would it start to happen earlier?
The resignation of our European commissioner does not suggest that our involvement with and influence in the European Union and European organisations will continue at the present level until the necessary negotiations on our withdrawal have been completed. I ask the Minister to make some meaningful comment on this point when he responds at the end of the debate. This question was not discussed during the passage of this Bill through the House of Commons, but it should be considered, and answers sought, in this House.
As the Minister said, the Bill was the subject of extensive pre-legislative scrutiny, including by a Joint Committee of both Houses chaired by my noble friend Lord Murphy of Torfaen. Prior to the pre-legislative scrutiny, there had been extensive scrutiny of our investigatory powers in three independent reviews, including one by David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. His review and the other reviews stressed that legislation relating to interception and communications data needed to be consolidated and made subject to clear and robust privacy safeguards. This Bill is also intended to replace the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which contains a sunset clause requiring new legislation to be passed by the end of this year.
Safety and security matter—a point brought home to us all too painfully just over a week ago when one of our much respected and much admired parliamentary colleagues, Jo Cox MP, was brutally murdered in the street in broad daylight in this country.
The current threat level for terrorism is severe. We have also seen major attacks recently in Paris, Brussels and elsewhere. The Bill, though, covers not only terrorism but other serious crimes such as people trafficking, including the trafficking of children, sexual abuse, stalking and harassment. The security and intelligence services, GCHQ, the National Crime Agency and the police must have the powers to deal with these threats in an age when those involved in terrorism and criminality are operating online with a reach and on a scale that has not existed before through exploiting the technological advances now available for their own ends.
Human rights matter, too, including the right to privacy, the right to be left alone, the right to have private data protected and the right to redress when needed. My noble friend Lady Lawrence of Clarendon, who is in her place, and her family were put under surveillance by the Metropolitan Police with no justification at all. Those whose job it is to protect us, and to whom I do not think we always give sufficient credit and thanks for what they do on our behalf, cannot be expected to carry out their responsibilities with one arm tied behind their back. Equally there have to be effective checks and there has to be public confidence among all sections of our diverse community that the arms of those who protect us are not extending into areas where there is neither the need nor the justification.
Safety and security and human rights are not mutually exclusive. The Bill has completed its passage through the Commons. The Labour Party voted for it at Third Reading in the light of both significant amendments made in the Commons to meet our Labour red lines and in the light of undertakings given by Government Ministers to address further issues of Labour concern during the Bill’s passage through this House. It is now up to the Government to deliver on those verbal undertakings, now on the record in Commons Hansard. They include a commitment to introduce a threshold for access to internet connection records so that the powers cannot be used in investigating minor crimes—which is what the Bill as presently drafted in effect permits.
On Report in the Commons, the Government Minister, in response to our argument for a general serious crime test for communications data and a higher threshold on top of that for the use of internet connection records—but one which would provide that offences such as grooming, harassment and stalking were still covered—said he was committed to doing what we were seeking, and continued:
“I do so because it is really important that we have a threshold that works, particularly on ICRs”.—[Official Report, Commons, 7/6/16; col. 1120.]
A further commitment was made in respect of the protection of journalistic sources. We have already secured amendments to the Bill providing that judicial commissioners, when considering a warrant, must give weight to the overriding public interest in a warrant being granted for the use of investigatory powers against journalists, and that they must ensure that it is in keeping with wider and more general privacy points.
However, there are still matters outstanding on this point, including the extent to which the Bill does or does not provide for the same level of protection for journalists as is currently the case under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. There is also the question of the definition of who is and who is not a journalist now that we are in the digital world. The Government Minister in the Commons accepted that a solution needed to be found and said:
“and others in greater detail as the Bill enjoys its passage through this House and the other place”,—[
There is also an outstanding issue over legal privilege. The Bill now provides that it is only in exceptional and compelling circumstances that warrants may be issued where one of the purposes is the obtaining of legally privileged communications. Questions about the provisions in the Bill have been raised by the Law Society and the Bar Council, and I understand that the Government are continuing to discuss the concerns raised with the relevant organisations. We will need to know the outcome of the discussions and whether these concerns have been resolved. This is not about preserving the special status of individuals who work in journalism or the legal profession, or indeed as parliamentarians, but about protecting the public and their ability to raise issues through these channels on a secure and confidential basis.
In the Commons, the Government also accepted in principle our amendments relating to appointments to the new Investigatory Powers Commissioner, which would increase the role of the Lord Chief Justice in making recommendations for appointment to the Prime Minister. We will also need to be satisfied that the safeguards around modifications to warrants have been strengthened sufficiently to ensure that major modifications cannot be made by the back door, thus avoiding the provisions laid down in the Bill for obtaining warrants. We are not yet satisfied that this issue has been fully resolved, although we recognise that it is not a straightforward matter and we would be willing to work with the Government on it.
A number of crucial changes to the Bill were secured in the Commons through the approach we, as the Official Opposition, adopted. First, on the powers in the Bill which enable information to be retained in bulk form, the Government accepted our argument that there should be an independent review of the operational case for such powers. These are actually powers which, for the most part, are currently available and being exercised at present, but not on a statutory footing with safeguards. The investigation will be carried out by David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and will consider the necessity of the powers and whether the same result could have been achieved through alternative means. He will conclude his work before the relevant clauses in the Bill are reached in this House. This was a fundamental concession as far as we were concerned. While it clearly depends on what conclusions David Anderson reaches, it is quite likely that the findings of his review will prove to be the major issue.
Secondly, we pressed for and achieved an overarching privacy clause in the Bill against which the use of the exceptional powers in the Bill will have to be justified. We believe that it is vital to have this in the Bill so that privacy considerations are at its heart. Thirdly, we secured a provision that makes it clear that legitimate trade union activities are not a sufficient reason for powers under the Bill to be exercised. Fourthly, on judicial oversight of decisions to approve warrants for the exercise of powers under the Bill by the Home Secretary, a judicial commissioner will have to consider necessity and proportionality, and balance that against the overarching privacy clause. The judicial commissioner will not just be scrutinising the process. Fifthly, progress was made on providing protection for whistleblowers when giving information to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.
The Joint Committee on the draft Bill called for protection for members of the intelligence services who raise concerns about the misuse of investigatory powers with the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. The Bill provides for an individual to be able to give information on a voluntary basis to the commissioner without that individual committing a criminal offence or incurring a civil liability. However, the Solicitor General in the Commons agreed on Report to make it absolutely clear in the Bill that whistleblowers can make disclosures to the IPC without fear of prosecution. The Bill also now provides greater protection over access to medical records, which can be retained and accessed only in “exceptional and compelling circumstances”.
I have not referred to all the changes to the Bill secured in the Commons, or to all the undertakings given by the Government in respect of amendments to the Bill tabled in this House. What has been achieved, though, is an indication that, thanks to the persistence, determination and constructive work of the Official Opposition and others, and the willingness of the Government to listen, there are now much stronger safeguards in the Bill protecting people’s privacy and their human rights than existed in the original Bill or exist under current legislation.
That does not mean that the Bill is perfect—I am sure we will all want to listen to areas of continuing concern that may well be expressed both inside and outside this Chamber as we consider the Bill in detail. Clearly, our position on the Bill has changed since it started its passage through the Commons. We are looking, though, to make further progress during debates on the Bill in this House and, in particular, to hold the Government to the outstanding commitments and undertaking they gave in the Commons and on which the House will expect to be updated as we go through the Bill.
My Lords, this is a very complex Bill dealing with very technical matters in places, but we should not be intimidated by that. Nor should we simply say that we must give the police and the security services all the powers they ask for without scrutiny.
It is the responsibility of the police and the security services to ask government for the powers they believe they need in order to be effective. It is our responsibility—the responsibility of Parliament—to balance those requests against the tests of necessity and proportionality. There will always be a tendency for politicians to accede to the demands of the agencies of the state; should crime rise or terrorist acts be perpetrated, politicians could not be blamed if they had given the police and the security services everything they said they needed. Yet this has not always been the case. When the then Labour Government pressed the case put forward by the police for 90 days’ detention of terrorist suspects without charge, Parliament refused. The security services did not ask for such a power. Arguably, it was reasonable to turn down a power that would assist in the prosecution of offenders, provided that it did not affect the security services’ ability to prevent terrorist activity. Yet in this Bill, we face a similar demand from law enforcement for a draconian power that the security services say they do not need.
The Liberal Democrats recognise the vital role the police and the security services play in keeping us safe. We also recognise the need for trust between state agencies and the public, not least to ensure the flow of community intelligence—even more vital as the terrorist threat changes in nature and criminals become more sophisticated. In order to be effective, the police and the security services need to have powers to carry out surveillance, including the interception of communications, the retention and acquisition of communications data and equipment interference. This will involve intrusion into people’s privacy, but unless there is no other practical means of achieving the objective, intrusion into innocent people’s privacy should not be allowed, other than in exceptional circumstances, and even then it should be subject to the highest levels of oversight. Innocent people’s privacy should not otherwise be put at risk, let alone intruded into. Internet connection records—the only virgin territory in the Bill—are going to intrude into innocent people’s privacy.
I do not believe that anyone in this House believes that we do not have a right to privacy, but perhaps I should declare a personal interest in this area, in the example I am about to give. What about 25 years ago, when I was married to my wife, Mary, but I believed I was gay? Should I have been able to keep that situation private? What if someone today was in that position and wanted to research using the internet to get some help and guidance, for fear of talking to anyone and letting the cat out of the bag, like me in those days? This Bill requires internet service providers to record every website that everyone in the UK visits, to store that data for 12 months and to reveal those details to the police without a warrant if they suspect someone of crime. If someone alleged that I roller-skated into a shop, indecently assaulted someone and roller-skated out again—apparently, one of the allegations made against Sir Cliff Richard—details of every website I had visited in the past 12 months could be handed over to the police without a warrant if we allow this Bill to pass as it stands.
It is not too much of a stretch to think that someone might make an allegation against me, as a reasonably high-profile individual, so it would be not too far a stretch to think that I had better not seek confidential advice on the internet, in case it became public. How could it become public? Homophobia has been encountered in the police service, as has unauthorised disclosure of confidential information. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is not the same as “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about”. Even if the police were to be trusted completely, massive pools—oceans—of data in the custody of private companies such as TalkTalk, one of the internet service providers that will be asked to store such data, would be sitting ducks for hackers, criminals, blackmailers and hostile foreign powers. For example, information that I frequently visited the Age UK and NatWest websites might make me a target for fraudsters trying to trick me into revealing my account details online by claiming to be from the bank, or they might even turn up at my front door, believing me to be frail and easily conned or overpowered.
The RUSI panel set up by Nick Clegg when he was Deputy Prime Minister set out 10 tests for the intrusion of privacy. It is those 10 tests on which our opposition to parts of the Bill is based. Not only should the Bill be measured against the 10 tests, but Liberal Democrat opposition to the Bill should also be measured against them. One of the tests is that there must be transparency: how the law applies to the citizen must be evident. How many people in the UK know that 12 months of their web history—albeit the website that they are looking at rather than any further pages on that website—will be kept in case the police want to see it, as a result of this Bill’s provisions?
The intrusion must be necessary in that there are no other practical means of achieving the objective. The security services MI5, MI6 and GCHQ say that they do not need internet connection records because they can get the information they need by other means.
The intrusion must be proportionate to the advantages gained, not just in cost and resources but also through a judgment that the degree of intrusion is matched by the seriousness of the harm prevented. Internet service providers reckon that this will cost more than £1 billion in set-up costs alone. The measure may not provide the police with the website someone has visited because it is so easy to conceal it. It will not give the police any information about whether, or with whom, someone was communicating without making further inquiry of other companies such as Facebook, because almost all online communication is encrypted. If a serious crime is involved—the Minister listed a range of serious crimes that the Bill is intended to cover, including child sexual exploitation and terrorism—the security services, which do not need internet connection records, are duty bound to assist the police with their inquiries. We therefore need some convincing that internet connection records are both necessary and proportionate.
There are other issues. We believe that the double lock should be only a single lock in the case of law enforcement warrants which need go nowhere near a Secretary of State if there is no political sensitivity, and that there should be a real double lock where there is political sensitivity, not just the application of judicial review principles to the decision of the Secretary of State. How can there be a judicial review process where only one side of the case is presented to the judicial commissioner? Equipment interference is potentially more intrusive than interception and yet law enforcement equipment interference warrants go nowhere near a Secretary of State under the Bill as drafted, whereas security services equipment interference warrants require a Secretary of State’s signature.
The oversight arrangements have a few wrinkles as well. How are we supposed to have faith in the independence of judicial commissioners appointed by the Prime Minister—not necessarily the current Prime Minister—including the Investigatory Powers Commissioner being appointed by the Prime Minister? How can the same body authorise warrants and then audit their issue?
Not only do we support many aspects of this Bill, but the Liberal Democrats when in government called for such a Bill. However, aspects of the Bill cause us grave concern and the Government and law enforcement agencies have failed to convince us of their necessity and proportionality. The “request filter”, for example, conjures up the spectre of a virtual national database, where government can bring together every piece of available personal data held on an individual into one place. In addition, technical capability notices and national security notices have the potential to inflict serious competitive disadvantage on UK suppliers.
Bulk collection of innocent people’s communications is highly controversial and requires the closest scrutiny. But there will not be a call for a blanket ban on bulk collection from this Bench no matter the cost in lives and loss of security; we will take a reasoned and practical approach to these issues. Nor will noble Lords hear the term “snoopers’ charter” from this Bench, other than to condemn it as an inaccurate cliché. There is much to commend the Bill, but there are serious issues that must be addressed.
My Lords, I welcome the Bill. The authorities need up-to-date powers to obtain information to address the real dangers that we all face from terrorism and serious crime. The existing law has simply not kept pace with technological developments. The Government, with the support of the Labour Opposition, have included provisions to protect personal privacy against unnecessary intrusion and to ensure judicial control of access to personal information. The adequacy of these safeguards will need to be carefully considered by your Lordships.
One matter that will require particularly careful consideration in Committee and on Report is the protection of legal professional privilege—LPP—which is the right of clients to maintain the confidentiality of what they tell their lawyers in private. This subject was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and I will concentrate on it in today’s debate. In 2002, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hoffman, explained for your Lordships’ Appellate Committee that LPP is,
“a fundamental human right long established in the common law”.
The reason for that is that, unless a client knows that the solicitor and counsel will not disclose what they have been told in confidence, the client will simply not be prepared to speak honestly and openly when seeking legal advice. LPP is, therefore, fundamental to the rule of law.
It is important to emphasise that these rights belong to and benefit the client; they are not privileges for lawyers. There is a so-called iniquity exception to LPP. As Peter Carter QC for the Bar Council told the Joint Committee of both Houses on the Bill, LPP does not apply if, for example, the client seeks advice from a lawyer,
“on where the best place is to stash his stolen loot”.
Clauses 27, 106, 143 and 179 provide some piecemeal protection for LPP in some contexts. Schedule 7 requires the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice which addresses LPP. These matters were discussed in the other place and, on Report on
“recognise the overwhelming public importance of the preservation of legal professional privilege”.—[
I suggest that the way forward is as follows. First, as recommended by the Joint Committee, in paragraph 537 of its report,
“provision for the protection of Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) in relation to all categories of acquisition and interference addressed in the Bill should be included on the face of the Bill and not solely in a code of practice”.
The Joint Committee rightly accepted the evidence from Colin Passmore of Simmons & Simmons for the Law Society on this point.
Secondly, the Bill must require prior judicial authorisation for the targeting of discussions with a lawyer or if the authorities have reason to believe that they will be intruding on legal advice. Of course, if there is extreme urgency, judicial authorisation needs to be obtained as soon as possible after the event.
Thirdly, the test that the authorities need to meet to satisfy a judge to give authorisation where there is an intrusion in relation to LPP must be a high one. The test should be exceptional and compelling circumstances: that is the criterion set out in Clauses 27 and 106 and it was discussed by the Joint Committee, and those circumstances should indicate a probable cause for believing that the iniquity exception applies. I say probable cause because the authorities cannot know whether the iniquity exception applies unless and until they listen in and examine the results.
My fourth principle for the way forward is that after the authorities have obtained privileged information by listening in or otherwise intruding on legal discussions, they should be prohibited from retaining the fruits of it unless they obtain judicial authorisation that it is within the scope of the iniquity exception.
Much more difficult is that my understanding is that the Government also want to allow the authorities to listen in to legal advice and to use privileged information where there is no reason to think that the iniquity exception applies—that is, that these are perfectly proper legal discussions, with the lawyer giving advice to the client, but there is reason to believe that the surveillance may provide or has provided information of vital importance to preventing serious crime or tracking dangerous people. This is much more problematic. The difficulty is that to allow the authorities access to genuinely privileged information would inevitably mean that clients could no longer be guaranteed confidentiality by their lawyers. This would inevitably deter clients from speaking frankly to their lawyers and therefore undermine the rule of law. Given the fundamental importance of LPP, the Government will need to present a very strong case indeed in Committee and on Report if they seek to persuade noble Lords that such powers are necessary.
My Lords, I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, on LPP and I was absolutely fascinated by that comment about lawyers being told by their clients where the loot was hidden. What a much more exciting job being a lawyer must be than I had appreciated.
I join other noble Lords in welcoming the Bill. I heard the comments about the Bill having been rushed but if ever there was a Bill that had never been rushed, we have it here today. My noble friend the Minister made the point extremely well in his absolutely excellent introductory speech to this Second Reading. Has any other Bill ever had the scrutiny of three Joint Committees and three independent reviews? Given some of its important provisions, there are those of us in this House who wish to see the Bill moving much faster than the timetable we are presently enjoying. We obviously know that we have to have it finished by the end of the year.
My worry about the Bill and the question I will raise, following previous legislation, concerns the challenge to keep up with new technology. I stand here as an avowed ignoramus on many of these amazing technologies, such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. I see that the latest route that has been used by terrorists is the chat network on PlayStation. That will give Sony a few thoughts about how it organises its business in future and about the requirements that the Bill may impose on it. Without any question, the challenge is that while it might seem to be an amusing paradise for geeks, we know that there is a very dark side to this and that it offers a huge range of opportunities for some very sinister elements, be they terrorists, organised criminals, paedophiles or child abusers. All forms of evil can thrive and operate within this. We have known for some time the use that ISIS—the so-called Islamic State—has made of WhatsApp and the incredibly efficient communication that it has given it. When one hears surprise news that ISIS has attacked some town which people previously thought was safe, one knows that that has been achieved because it has very good communications through the new systems of technology which we are trying to keep up with.
It is against that background that we realise the incredible challenge that the police and intelligence agencies have. The Minister referred to the scale of the threat, which takes so many different forms. I have often talked in this House about how terrorism has changed since the time I was in Northern Ireland. We did not have suicide bombers in Northern Ireland. The challenge they pose to new systems of security is very real. While we have suicide bombers, we also have the willingness to engage in appalling massacres of innocent civilians. We know that some of the very evil people who exist in the world at present no longer have any interest in war crimes, Geneva conventions or anything else.
My noble friend referred to the anniversary yesterday of perfectly innocent people being mown down on a beach in Tunisia. We know that we have every finger crossed in this country against the risk that we could face at any time. In those situations, static guards, sentries and armed police have a role to play, but the core of so much of this is intelligence. If we are to be successful against this, we need access to intelligence. I was very interested to see that in 95% of prosecutions of organised crime, communications data have been vital; and that bulk powers have been significant in every counterterrorism investigation in the seven plots that there have been in the past 10 years, and vital to detecting 95% of the cyberattacks that we have faced in this country. I was not previously aware that 90% of our military operations have been conducted successfully without casualties by access to information under the systems that we are discussing to day.
I warmly welcome the last comment of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick. I was about to attack him for the phrase “snoopers’ charter”, but he managed to get out in time. Part of the problem with the Bill is that people often do not understand the importance of what is happening, because the intelligence agencies in particular and the police are very inhibited in what they can say about why some of this information is so vital to the defence and security of our country, as too often that runs the risk of revealing methods or techniques that it is vital to protect in the interests of the security of our country. It is still cited as a “snoopers’ charter” by some, but that is a cheap, silly and dangerous remark. It is insulting to the police and our intelligence agencies to use such a phrase. As borne out by the comments Dominic Grieve, the current chairman of the ISC, made in another place on this Bill, we know the high sense of responsibility that is generally shown by our intelligence agencies and the police. Of course there can be mistakes, and there are occasions when people do not live up to those high standards, but to suggest that in general the organisations do not seek to observe scrupulously the proper use of these powers is grossly irresponsible.
We will certainly seek proper scrutiny of the legislation as it goes through. The noble Lord leading for the Opposition referred to the substantial changes made in the Commons and the number of important undertakings that have been made which will have to be put into effect here. I welcome that. It is a question of proportionality and of achieving that proper balance between protecting public security and legitimate privacy. It has been claimed that the Bill is a world first in the scale and range of what it seeks to achieve. I could not help being amused today by the comments of Mr Edward Snowden, who finds that the Russians are operating some pretty intrusive activities, and without all the provisions that exist in this legislation, as far as I am aware. I welcome the dual lock that is being introduced, which is important.
I end simply with one comment. As we go through the Bill, I shall look at whether it has the flexibility to cope with the accelerating pace of technical change. We have to make sure that it remains effective as the years go forward. We know that the speed with which new technologies, systems and techniques are coming in poses a major challenge to our agencies. It is our duty as legislators to provide for the introduction of properly scrutinised and properly protective regulations, under which the agencies can protect our country and at the same time properly respect the privacy of its citizens.
My Lords, I rise to support the Bill. I was going to wholeheartedly commend the present Home Secretary for being prepared to listen and respond, but I fear it might do her chances of becoming leader of the Conservative Party enormous harm. She has the great merit of having taken responsibility in her life, and acted responsibly and shown a gravitas which others certainly do not.
I reinforce the point made by my noble friend from the Front Bench. We are, at this moment, in a more insecure and uncertain landscape than we have been for some considerable time. It is at moments just like this when your Lordships’ House provides the stability needed, and the accumulated experience and wisdom, to ensure that we get things right. I have not always thought so. Back in 2001, when I was piloting the then Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill through the two Houses of Parliament on the back of the terrible attack on
While, as has been explained, much has already been done to improve the original draft of the Bill, I hope that we can speed its passage and ensure that the final touches are put to what is a very important piece of legislation. It obviously combines what was agreed in the past, which, not least in the Telecommunications Act 1984, reinforced what was not necessarily understood publicly. It ensures that there is a right of review, proper openness and scrutiny.
I can be brief because I have had the privilege of giving both written and oral evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee and to the Joint Committee chaired by my noble friend Lord Murphy. I agree with what has already been said: much has been achieved by having a draft Bill and being prepared to listen to people. I shall make just two or three comments.
I reinforce what the noble Lord, Lord King, said: we are living in an era of enormous technical change. What is happening now through the world wide web and through cyber is completely different from anything that we experienced even 25 years ago, and we need to take account of that. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, spoke movingly of what might have intruded on him had we been dealing with a circumstance such as the one that he outlined in his private life. It is important that we recognise those personal details but we should also take a 60-year step back and understand how far we have come in terms of privacy and individual rights. Do noble Lords remember the trunk calls that had to be routed through the local exchange? When I was a child, we had party lines with our neighbours, and there was a standing joke that they all knew precisely what we were doing and when we were doing it.
It is also true that we have come a long way in understanding the importance of having the right oversight. I was privileged to ask the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, to take on that initial role many years ago. Eyebrows were raised on my side of the House that I had asked a Liberal Democrat to oversee what I was up to in the Home Office. At the time, it was felt that I was quite a draconian Home Secretary, but we were dealing with extraordinarily difficult times. At such times challenging and difficult measures have to be taken but there always has to be the proportionality that has been spoken about—the balance between security and prevention on the one hand and individual liberty and privacy on the other. I know a thing or two about privacy and intrusion into people’s private lives and those of the people around them, not from the state—although who knows?—but from private interests intent on commercial gain. Therefore, I am wholeheartedly in favour of protecting the privacy of the innocent and ensuring that people’s private lives are respected, but the most important responsibility of any Government is protecting their people and ensuring that those who would use democracy to abuse liberty and privacy are counterweighted and acted against.
During the passage of the Bill in the weeks ahead I hope that we can deal with those outstanding items, but I also hope that we can do so with an understanding that our main responsibility to the British people when the threat level is severe is ensuring, in this moment of instability, that we provide the necessary powers to the intelligence and security community and the counterterrorism police, although we expect them to respond in kind. We also need to ensure that we build confidence among the British people that we know what we are doing and are doing it on their behalf.
My Lords, I, too, welcome the Bill and congratulate the Home Secretary on the good intentions behind it. I have been calling for reform in this area for four years. To start with, I was ridiculed by some Members of this House and patronised by Ministers. But then, in July 2014, the Government finally admitted that RIPA and the other elderly Acts that make up the patchwork of legislation governing this area needed to be replaced by a single new Bill, which is what we have here. But, even with the useful amendments passed by the Commons, as it stands the Bill is very far from fit for purpose, and we in this House have much work to do to knock it into shape.
Two new clauses were added in the other place in response to the ISC’s call for a backbone of privacy to be included in the Bill. But the new clauses do not cut the mustard for the chair of the ISC, who has called for them to be clearer about the right of citizens to privacy. There needs to be much better protection in the Bill, as we have already heard, for privileged communications such as those between lawyers and their clients, journalists and their sources and MPs and their constituents. On warrant authorisation, I have sat through endless evidence and debates on the Joint Scrutiny Committee and I have yet to hear a single convincing reason as to why a Minister needs to be involved in day-to-day police warrantry, as the Bill currently provides.
The next topic is the bulk surveillance powers that indiscriminately collect everyone’s private data. They are currently under review by David Anderson QC. When a similar review was undertaken in the USA, the bulk powers were found to have made no serious contribution to detecting and preventing crime, and were discontinued. We must ask ourselves why the UK should travel in the opposite direction.
The only new power in the Bill, as has already been said, concerns internet connection records, which are highly intrusive, difficult and expensive to implement and of no interest whatever to the security services. They were abandoned in 2014 in Denmark, the only country that has tried to do this before, because they failed to deliver the expected benefits. It is my view that ICRs need to be deleted from the Bill. The request filter appears to be a classic wolf in sheep’s clothing, and it will need careful examination before it can be allowed to remain in the Bill.
Finally, the threat to encryption needs to be removed from the Bill. Strong encryption, as the Government have recognised in this House, is vital to our personal security and the integrity of our finance and commerce sectors. The Government are fond of calling the Bill “world-leading”. That is true in some respects, but not necessarily in ways that we would want to celebrate. If it were enacted unchanged, innocent UK citizens would not be far behind their North Korean and Chinese counterparts in a contest to be the most spied-on population in the world. The powers in the Bill are very broad and very intrusive—more so than in any of our democratic allies.
One of the praiseworthy aspects of the Bill is that for the first time it offers Parliament the opportunity to consider five major surveillance powers that have been in use, without Parliament’s knowledge or consent, for many years. It is good that these powers have at last crawled out of their dark cave in the Home Office and into the sunlight of scrutiny, but should we not be asking ourselves how the Home Office could be so contemptuous of Parliament as to believe that it was entitled to create new and highly intrusive surveillance powers without bothering itself with the tiresome niceties of parliamentary democracy? It would be good if the Minister could explain to the House how it came to be that obscure clauses in 30 year-old Acts were used to manufacture these powers and wilfully conceal them from Parliament. Perhaps he could also confirm that there are no other hidden surveillance powers of which Parliament is still unaware.
The lesson we must learn from this disgraceful behaviour over many years is that the Home Office cannot be trusted to comply with the will of Parliament. That means that we must take great care to not leave any further what I call “buffet clauses” or “help-yourself provisions” in the Bill for clever Home Office lawyers to exploit for their own purposes. Your Lordships should know that there are plenty of such loopholes still lurking in the Bill, and we will need to dig them out and deal with them.
It is important to understand the context of the Bill in relation to the various threats to life that we face as a nation. I wonder how many noble Lords know how many people died in the UK in the past decade as a result of terrorism. The answer is that it is far fewer than the 110,000 who died because they were admitted to hospital at the weekend, if you believe the Health Secretary; far fewer than the 95,000 who died in London alone due to air pollution; fewer than the 5,500 who were murdered; fewer than the 1,000 women who were killed by their partners; and even fewer than the 300 people who died accidentally in their bath in the past decade. The number of people who died in the UK in the past decade due to terrorism was in fact three—or perhaps four if you include the murder of Jo Cox MP, which we do not yet know was a terrorist incident.
Of course, we must not forget that each and every one of those deaths was a total tragedy and a continuing nightmare for the friends and families of those victims, but many of us are old enough to remember what it was like in the 1970s, when terrorists took 49 lives in mainland UK, or the 1980s, when it was 307, or even the first decade of this century, when it was 56. My point is that, contrary to what some people assert, the risk of death from terrorism is not as high as it was 30 or 40 years ago and the risk of dying from more mundane causes, even an accident in your bath, is currently—
Perhaps I may ask the noble Lord, therefore, what his estimate is of the number of people who have not been killed due to terrorist activities because of the action of the security services.
I have no idea, is the answer to that question.
My point is that, contrary to what some people assert, the risk of death from terrorism is not as high as it was 30 or 40 years ago, so we must take care not to surrender the freedoms that our parents and grandparents fought to protect in the Second World War on the basis of alleged unprecedented threats.
Since the noble Lord has no idea, I will give just one example, occurring and culminating on
Sometimes, possibly well-meant attempts to improve our safety by treating every citizen as a suspect and collecting everyone’s private data could have the unintended consequence of making us less safe. I am thinking of bulk surveillance powers, which some experts say risk hiding data about the bad guys under a tsunami of personal and private data about the 99% of us who will never be terrorists or paedophiles. Furthermore, by storing 12 months of our internet activity at our service providers to derive a debatable security benefit, we would be exposing all internet users to the entirely new and self-inflicted risk of the theft of that very revealing data by thieves, blackmailers and foreign spooks. There is plenty of experience of cyber thefts to tell us that our personal data will be stolen, whatever bland assurances we get from the Government that they will not.
So the Bill has the potential to be a good one, but it is not yet there and we have much work to do to get it there. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these Benches to achieve that—and, importantly, I hope also to work with noble Lords on the Labour, Cross-Bench and Government Benches to make the Bill fit for purpose and the best it can be.
My Lords, I know that the speaking time is advisory and that the noble Lord has been interrupted, but we have a lot of speakers and a Statement, so if he is willing, it would be good if he could bring his remarks to a conclusion.
I will do exactly that.
The events of the last few days have demonstrated how volatile our politics have become and how quickly ruthless politicians can replace more moderate leaders. That means that we must be even more careful about what powers we give the Government to spy on us. Make no mistake—this is not an exaggeration—as it is currently drafted, and in the hands of an extreme Government, the Investigatory Powers Bill would be a toolkit for tyranny. The powers in it and the data that would be collected on all of us would be a grave threat to our freedom and our democracy if exploited by those who would oppress us.
My Lords, it is certainly an interesting piece of scheduling for me to follow immediately after the noble Lord, Lord Strasburger. I have much respect for him but I have to say—I do not think I am alone—that I do not agree with almost anything he has just said.
I have been involved in conversations about the kind of powers with which the Bill is concerned since the turn of the century and even before. I lived with the current legislation—principally the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, RIPA—and I have watched its relevance to modern conditions slowly shrivel. This is not surprising, because the world has changed and is changing with ever more speed. The digital age is a singularity: a change on the scale of the invention of printing and the Industrial Revolution.
The powers in the Bill are needed. As I have said before in the House, one of the first instructions from the senior investigating officer in cases of murder and terrorism is to find and check the relevant telephone records. David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, has noted that almost all terrorist trials depend for a successful conviction on that kind of evidence. However, what has to be recognised is that new technologies are rendering that kind of evidence simply unavailable. In addition, even if that was not the case, which it is, young people—and I am afraid they will include some future terrorists and murderers—simply do not use as telephones what we at our average age believe to be telephones. They use WhatsApp, Snapchat and all the other things that the noble Lord, Lord King, mentioned, which use the internet as the means of communication over what is known as VoIP—voice over internet protocol. Without the Bill, the abilities of the UK police to protect our people will sharply diminish. As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said, that particularly grave position will be made worse if we lose European co-operation on intelligence sharing.
It is said that the defence of the realm is the most important duty of the state. The protection of individual citizens is the next most important duty of the state. Before finishing, I will just turn to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick. The noble Lord had a distinguished career as a senior police officer. However, while I admire his integrity and his openness about his own personal circumstances, I simply do not believe that any police officer experienced in surveillance, terrorism or organised crime would agree with what he said. We have recently heard a little too much running down of experts. I agree completely with the opening statement of the Minister, in which he made clear what experts in this area have said. To ignore their advice would make this country less safe.