Gov waters down Investigatory Powers Bill spying measures


Home secretary Theresa May will drop some controversial elements from the Investigatory Powers Bill ahead of its appearance in Parliament on Wednesday.

The bill is a redrafted version of the Communications Data Bill, dubbed the Snooper's Charter, which was first introduced in 2012 but blocked by the Liberal Democrats during the coalition government.

A requirement for UK ISPs to keep data on third-parties will be scratched from the bill, as will the ability to access people's browsing histories, May told the BBC.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, she said: "It doesn't have some of the more contentious powers that were in that [Snooper's Charter] bill.

"So, for example, we won't be requiring communication service providers from in the UK to store third-party data, we won't be making the same requirements in relation to data retention on overseas CSPs.

"And crucially, we will not be giving powers to go through people's browsing history. That is not what the investigatory powers bill is about."

The changes come after consultation with civil liberties organisations as well as ISPs, May said, in time for the bill to be presented to Parliament on Wednesday.

The bill is intended to upgrade the UK's anti-terrorism measures, to address alleged surveillance gaps the government believes are "severely degrading" intelligence agencies' ability to fight terrorists.

Despite May's promise about browsing histories, the bill is expected to require communications firms to hold data on website domains a person has visited for 12 months though only the main site, rather than the pages within the site, would be recorded.

With Labour arguing that only judges rather than ministers - should be able to issue warrants for spy agencies to access specific page visits, May said the government would reveal its decision on this matter on Wednesday.

"Encryption is important for people to be able to keep themselves safe when they are dealing with these modern communications in the digital age, but we will be setting out the current position, which does enable the authorities with proper authorisation to issue warrants," she said.