Definition of “interception” etc.

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 12 April 2016.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

There are no amendments tabled to the clause, which we support, but I say for the record and for clarification that what is welcome in clause 3 is the spelling out in legislation of the extent of an interception—an issue has bedevilled some recent criminal cases. Importantly, as the explanatory notes make clear, it is now provided in clear terms that voicemails remaining on a system, emails and text messages read but not deleted and draft messages stored on a system will count within the phrase “in the course of transmission” and will therefore be covered by the offence. We welcome that. I wanted to emphasise that point and put it on the record, because a lot of time and effort was spent when that phrase was not so clearly defined.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I am extremely grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. He is right: we have moved a long way from phone tapping, which he, I and many others understood to be clear interception whereas, for example, the recording and monitoring of communications at either end of the process was not interception. As he rightly says, the internet and email have caught up with us, so as part of the Government’s thrust to have greater clarity and simplicity, this essential definition is a welcome part of the statutory framework that now exists.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 4 and 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6