Filtering arrangements for obtaining data

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 14 April 2016.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 4:30, 14 April 2016

I will not be long, but I want to raise some concerns about the provisions. It is clear—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—that the arrangements are to assist a designated senior officer who is considering whether to grant an authorisation, and therefore has got to that stage of the exercise, and more broadly to provide for effective ways of obtaining communications long before there is serious consideration of a particular authorisation. Subsection (1)(a) applies in relation to the contemplation of a possible authorisation, whereas subsection (1)(b) is a much wider way of organising the data so that someone can later find what they want more easily.

The arrangements are made by the Secretary of State but then exercised by the designated senior officer, and we have discussed who will be doing that. It is so concerning because the provision allows for the designated senior officer, who in many cases will be not a high-ranking individual in a public authority, to start to organise the data that have been obtained under a retention power. It is therefore a very wide ranging power indeed.

I accept the argument that anything that allows the authorities to get to the data they need and moves out of the way data that are irrelevant to any possible exercise has real use. We will not oppose the clause because if the idea is effectively to deselect data on individuals who are not of interest, the sooner that is done the better. Nevertheless, I echo the concerns that have already been expressed that it is a very wide power that will in the end be exercised by relatively low-ranking individuals in an authority to look at and organise a huge amount of data. I have real concerns about the clause, but, for the reasons I have identified, we will not be voting against it.