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RUSI responds to the draft Investigatory Powers Bill

The Royal United Services Institute has welcomed the publication of draft legislation on investigatory powers which draws on recommendations made by RUSI earlier this year.

The Independent Surveillance Review, published by RUSI in July, was one of three reports that contributed to the draft bill. The panel of experts convened by RUSI to undertake the review highlighted the inadequacies in law and oversight and concluded that new legislation was essential to provide a fresh start on a basis of mutual trust in the key principles set out by the review.

The draft legislation proposes a system for warrant authorisation recommended by the Independent Surveillance Review. Under the draft plans, warrants would be authorised by the secretary of state and subject to judicial review by a judicial commissioner before implementation. The Independent Surveillance Review also recommended the establishment of a new independent judicial oversight body to conduct inspection and audit, intelligence oversight and public engagement functions. The draft legislation would see the creation of the Investigatory Powers Commission in response to this recommendation.

Professor Michael Clarke, the Director General of RUSI and Chairman of the Panel, said ‘The government has done what was asked by the review in terms of clearly setting out the lawful extent of the most intrusive capabilities of its agencies. We are pleased to see that the majority of the recommendations made by the panel – especially on the authorisation of warrants and oversight by a single, independent judicial body – have been adopted.’

RUSI has published a Briefing Paper to accompany the publication of the draft bill. Its author, Research FellowCalum Jeffray, said ‘The draft bill goes into unprecedented level of detail on the powers available to the government, and goes further than many expected on legal safeguards and judicial oversight. It is now time for politicians and the public to decide if the right balance has been struck.’

Understanding the Investigatory Powers Bill is designed to help the public navigate the complex issues contained in the draft bill. Over the coming months RUSI will continue to publish analysis on key aspects of the government’s proposals to inform the debate as the draft legislation is subject to pre-legislative scrutiny and public consultation.

To read the briefing paper, please click here.

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