The U.K. must improve privacy safeguards in proposed legislation which would allow the bulk retention of communications data, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said.
The Investigatory Powers Bill doesn’t provide enough protections for communications by lawyers, members of Parliament and journalists, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said Thursday in a report. At the same time, it welcomed the bill as an attempt by the government to provide a clear legal basis for surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Technology companies such as Apple Inc., Vodafone Group Plc, Google and Facebook Inc., as well as some lawmakers, have expressed concerns about the bill, including that it will be expensive to implement, weakens encryption and gives too much power to law-enforcement agencies. Even so, the opposition Labour and Scottish National parties both allowed it to pass a Parliamentary hurdle in March. The government is due on June 6 to set out a timetable for its continued passage through Parliament.
“The Bill must provide tougher safeguards to ensure that the government cannot abuse its powers to undermine Parliament’s ability to hold the government to account,” the panel’s chairwoman, Harriet Harman, said in a statement. “Protection for MP communications from unjustified interference is vital, as it is for confidential communications between lawyers and clients, and for journalists’ sources.”
The government’s case for taking on powers to retain communications data should also be examined by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, the committee said.