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The amendment concerns the scope of uses to which the material that is not subject to existing statutory restrictions can be put. Subsection (4)(a) states,
“the reference to using material includes allowing a check to be made against it, or against information derived from it, or disclosing it to any person”.
That is a pretty wide permission. As I understand it, it is not confined to law enforcement agencies, to those involved in prosecuting an offence or to those representing a defendant, but is open to anybody. I hope that the Minister will forgive me for saying that on the face of it, it seems as if that permission runs a coach and horses through RIPA.
Amendment No. 68 would replace the current wording with “law enforcement agency”. However, that might be too restrictive. I wonder if the Minister will help us to understand the reasoning behind choosing an expression that is potentially so broad as to allow material in this category to be disclosed to anybody.