Labour scores review of Snoopers' Charter's bulk powers from UK.gov

Theresa May appoints indie reviewer in letter to Andy Burnham

Secretary of State for the Home Department Theresa May. Photo by Twocoms/Shutterstock.com
Photo by Twocoms/Shutterstock

IPB Bulk hacking and data collection powers in the Snoopers' Charter are going to be scrutinised by an independent reviewer grudgingly appointed by the government after pressure from Labour.

Theresa May's plans to rush the Investigatory Powers Bill into law follow years of similar methods being used to introduce more surveillance powers, but they have been successfully resisted by the Shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham, who received her offer directly in a letter on Monday.

David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, has agreed to lead the independent review into the Investigatory Powers Bill and will report over the summer on the spooks' activities towards collecting bulk information.

Anderson's appointment has received widespread support, following the publication of his thorough 374-page report, titled A Question of Trust, last year.

Burnham described the letter as "extremely encouraging", the BBC reported, and said: "Her commitment to an independent review of the case for bulk powers is a major concession but the right thing to do and something which will build trust in this process."

In today's Parliamentary debate, Burnham will tell the House of Commons: "As the Home Secretary knows, we share her goal of putting an updated law into the Statute Book governing the use of investigatory powers and giving the Police and the security services the powers to do their job in the digital age."

However, he will add, Labour continues "to have serious concerns about the Bill as currently drafted. It does not yet contain sufficiently strong safeguards and human rights protections."

According to the BBC, a Home Office spokesperson claimed: "The Home Secretary has always been clear she will listen to the constructive views of politicians from all sides of the House to ensure the passage of this important Bill. The Government will be bringing forward amendments at Report Stage."

Opposition, you say?

Labour's Keir Starmer previously said the party would refuse to the let the bill progress through Parliament until the government conducted an independent review into the new powers and definitions included within it.

At the time, he said that “the first question for us is whether the government has made an operational case for the powers” in the bill.

Citing the Anderson report and those of the Parliamentary committees, Starmer said that despite the government having published operational cases showing why the most questionable powers being included in the bill were needed by the spooks, "they weren't convincing." ®


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