The home secretary, Amber Rudd, hailed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 as “world-leading legislation” that provided “unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection”.
But privacy campaigners claimed that it would provide an international standard to authoritarian regimes around the world to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.
The new surveillance law requires web and phone companies to store everyone’s web browsing histories for 12 months and give the police, security services and official agencies unprecedented access to the data.
It also provides the security services and police with new powers to hack into computers and phones and to collect communications data in bulk. The law requires judges to sign off police requests to view journalists’ call and web records, but the measure has been described as “a death sentence for investigative journalism” in the UK.
The Home Office says some of the provisions in the act will require extensive testing and will not be in place for some time. However, powers to require web and phone companies to collect customers’ communications data will be in force before 31 December, the date when the current Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 expires.
The home secretary said: “The Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation, that provides unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection.
“The government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement and security and intelligence services have the power they need to keep people safe. The internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge. But it is also right that these powers are subject to strict safeguards and rigorous oversight.”~~~