Clause 27 - Bulk equipment interference: safeguards for confidential journalistic material etc

Part of Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 7 March 2024.

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Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 4:00, 7 March 2024

I welcome the amendment, and not only do I agree with it, but I feel that we have already done it. My understanding is that the provision duplicates what already occurs in practice under the current regime, as well as the changes made by clause 27. Currently, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner is already effectively notified when a senior official acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, in urgent circumstances, approves the selection for examination of journalistic material derived from bulk equipment interference. Clause 27 already inserts into the IPA new section 195A(2), which will ensure that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner is notified as soon as is reasonably practical by the Secretary of State when a senior official approves the use of criteria to select for examination journalistic material in reliance on an urgent approval. Effectively, the senior official is informing on behalf of the Secretary of State, or indeed the Secretary of State is informing on behalf of the senior official. We all very much hope it is the former of the two.

Clause 27 enhances the safeguards already afforded to journalistic material within the IPA, and the Government recognise the importance of journalistic freedom within free and democratic societies, which is why we are introducing this measure. Under the current regime, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner must be informed when a communication that contains confidential journalistic material or sources of journalistic material is retained following its examination for purposes other than its destruction. The clause introduces a requirement for prior independent approval by the IPC before any search criteria are used to select such material. Prior independent approval is also required before it is removed.