Tag Archives: Theresa May MP

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill receives Royal Assent

Legislation to ensure UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to have access to the vital evidence and information they need in order to investigate criminal activity, prevent terrorism and protect the public has received Royal Assent.

The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act addresses urgent issues around the retention of communications data by companies as well as the interception of communications.

The legislation was brought forward after the European Court of Justice struck down the European directive that formed the basis of UK regulations governing the ability of the police service and others to access communications data retained by communication service providers.

The Act provides a clear basis in UK law for the retention of communications data and ensures this crucial information continues to be available when it’s needed.

Home Secretary Theresa May

Home Secretary Theresa May

The Act is also a response to uncertainty from overseas communications service providers around the legal framework that underpins their co-operation with intelligence and law enforcement agencies regarding investigatory powers. The Act makes clear the obligations that apply to anyone providing communications services to customers in the UK under Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), irrespective of where those companies are based.

The Act, which comes into effect immediately, only maintains and clarifies the existing regime and does not create any new powers, rights of access or obligations on companies beyond those that already exist.

It also strengthens existing safeguards and includes a two-year ‘sunset clause’ to ensure the legal framework is kept under review into the next Parliament.

In parallel, the Government has announced new measures to increase transparency and oversight.

Necessary powers and capabilities

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The threats faced by the UK from terrorism and organised crime remain considerable, and the Government would have been negligent if it had not made sure the people and the organisations that keep us safe have the powers and capabilities they need.”

May added: “If we had not acted immediately, investigations could have suddenly gone dark overnight. Criminals and terrorists would have been able to go about their work unimpeded, and innocent lives would have been lost.”

Continuing the theme, the Home Secretary said: “The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act will ensure the job of those who protect us does not become even more difficult and that they can maintain the use of vital powers to solve crime, save lives and protect the public from harm.”

May concluded: “This Act has cross-party support and I would like to express my gratitude to all those who recognised both the need for this legislation and the reason why it was so important to see it enacted quickly.”

Bringing offenders to justice

Communications data is the ‘who, when, where and how’ of a communication, such as a telephone call or an e-mail, but not its content.

It’s often the decisive factor in successful prosecutions and has helped police solve a large number of serious crimes, including the Oxford and Rochdale child grooming cases as well as the Soham and Rhys Jones murders.

As a result of the ECJ ruling, communications service providers may have started to delete data they are currently required to retain. This would have had potentially devastating consequences for investigations, which often rely on communications data that’s several months old at the point at which it’s requested.

The Act provides a clear basis in domestic law for the retention of communications data in the UK.

Protecting national security

Interception powers, which are subject to very strict controls and oversight, are used alongside other covert capabilities and techniques to identify, understand and disrupt serious criminals and terrorists before they can cause damage or endanger lives.

The Act has made explicit what is already implicit in RIPA that the provisions in RIPA which relate to communications data and interception apply to overseas communications companies offering services to UK customers.

Any loss of co-operation from the companies would have immediately resulted in a major loss of the powers and capabilities that are used every day to counter the threats we face from terrorists and organised criminals.

Introducing new safeguards

The UK has one of the best communications data oversight and authorisation systems in the world. Nonetheless, the following steps will be taken to strengthen oversight and transparency:

(1) The Independent Reviewer of Counter-Terrorism Legislation will hold a full review of powers and capabilities.
(2) The Interception of Communications Commissioner will report every six months on the operation of the legislation.
(3) A senior diplomat will be appointed to lead discussions with overseas Governments and communication service providers to assess and develop formal arrangements for the accessing of data for law enforcement and intelligence purposes held in different jurisdictions.
(4) An Independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board will be created to consider the balance between the threat and civil liberties concerns in the UK where they are affected by policies, procedures and legislation relating to the prevention of terrorism.
(5) The number of public bodies currently able to request communications data will be reduced.
(6) The UK Government will publish annual transparency reports to make more information publicly available than ever before on the ways in which surveillance powers are operated.

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Home Secretary Theresa May: ‘UK needs capability to defend its citizens’

The world is a dangerous place and the UK must maintain its capability to defend its citizens in the digital age, Home Secretary Theresa May has stated.

Speaking at the annual Lord Mayor’s Defence and Security Lecture in London, the Home Secretary talked of the threat the country faces, including that from British people returning home from the conflict in Syria.

The Home Secretary said that threat – whether from terrorism or organised crime – is changing fast and, on that basis, the UK needs the capabilities to defend its interests and protect its citizens.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Theresa May stressed it was important to talk about the balance between privacy and security “in the full context of the threats we face” rather than “in a strange vacuum, as if the debate was entirely academic”.

The Home Secretary stated: “The terrorist threats to this country and our interests are changing faster than at any time since 9/11. We continue to face possible attacks by Al Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but we face further threats from Syria and now from Iraq where Al Qaida, ISIL and others have created a safe haven with substantial resources including advanced technology and weapons.”

May continued: “They are on the doorstep of Europe, just a few hours’ flying time from London, and they want to attack us – not just in Syria or Iraq but here in Britain.”

Challenges to be faced

The Home Secretary told the guests at Mansion House that it’s important to be clear about the UK’s capabilities and the challenges faced in maintaining them in a digital age.

“We are living more of our lives online, using an array of new technology,” said May. “This is hugely liberating and a great opportunity for economic growth. However, this technology has become essential not just to the likes of you and me but also to organised criminals and terrorists.”

The Home Secretary added: “Far from having some fictitious mastery over all this technology we, in democratic states, face the significant risk of being caught out by it. Governments have always reserved the power to monitor communications and to collect data about communications when it’s necessary and proportionate to do so. It is much harder now – there is more data, we do not own it and we can no longer always obtain it. I know some people will say ‘hurrah for that’ – but the result is that we are in danger of making the Internet an ungoverned, ungovernable space and a safe haven for terrorism and criminality.”

Loss of capability: the great danger

The Home Secretary described loss of capability as “the great danger we face”. May said: “The real problem is not that we have built an over-mighty state but that the state is finding it harder to fulfil its most basic duty which is to protect the public. That is why I have said before – and I will go on saying – that we need to make changes to the law to maintain the capabilities we require.”

In conclusion, Theresa May explained: “Yes, we have to make sure that the capabilities can only be used with the right authorisation and with appropriate oversight, but this is quite simply a question of life and death. A matter of national security. We must keep on making the case until we get the changes we need.”

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Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation reappointed by Home Secretary

Home Secretary Theresa May has reappointed David Anderson QC as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

Anderson – whose role is to review the operation of the UK’s counter-terrorism legislation – was first appointed in 2011 and will remain in the post until 21 February 2017.

As part of this role, Anderson will continue to report his findings to Parliament on an annual basis.

Home Secretary Theresa May explained: “I’m pleased to announce that David Anderson QC has been reappointed as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation for a further three years. I am confident he will continue to help this Government meet its ongoing commitment to ensure that its counter-terrorism legislation is fair, effective and proportionate.”

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has statutory responsibilities under Section 36 of the Terrorism Act 2006 to review the operation of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006, scrutinise the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) Act 2011 (under Section 20 of that Act) and the Terrorist Asset-Freezing, etc Act (TAFA) 2010 (as set out in Section 31 of that Act).

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Scotland and the UK “safer together” states Home Secretary

Threats to Scotland and the UK from organised crime gangs, cyber criminals and global terrorism are best confronted with Scotland inside the UK, the Home Secretary explained today.

The Home Secretary was in Scotland to launch ‘Scotland Analysis: Security’, the seventh in a series of UK Government papers to inform the debate ahead of next year’s independence referendum.

The paper examines how the UK and Scotland derive mutual benefit from an integrated approach to security, cyber, justice and policing, as well as from security exports and our international alliances and relationships.

The possible consequences for both Scotland and the continuing UK of a vote for independence are subject to analysis in the paper. It stresses that while the UK does work with other countries (such as the Republic of Ireland) to improve security and fight organised crime, there’s a significant difference between these relationships and Scotland’s current position as a privileged and influential part of the UK.

The analysis concludes that independence could disturb the united protection provided to Scotland by the UK’s security and intelligence architecture.

Home Secretary Theresa May

Home Secretary Theresa May

Scottish referendum: key implications of Scottish independence

Key implications of Scottish independence include:

• Scotland facing a technically complex and expensive requirement to establish its security infrastructure. In the meantime, there would be a risk to both Scotland and the continuing UK of diminished security.

• Scotland no longer being covered by the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme which strengthens the services the public rely on and makes the UK a safer place for businesses to operate.

• Co-operation between Police Scotland and other UK forces may not be as straightforward as it is now. Long established UK-wide laws make it easier to pursue justice across borders despite different legal systems and police jurisdictions.

• A limit to the amount of information the continuing UK would be able to share with Scotland. Under the ‘Control Principle’ the UK could not share the kind of information used to fight and counter terrorism with Scotland, passed to it by another country, unless the UK had that country’s consent.

Security consequences of Scottish independence

“This report sets out in plain terms the security consequences of independence, not just for Scotland but for the UK as a whole,” said Home Secretary Theresa May. “Undoubtedly, we are stronger and safer together.”

May continued: “The national security risks the UK faces are complex and changing. Terrorists and organised criminals will seek new ways to exploit any weakness in our justice and policing capabilities, and the scale of emerging threats, such as cyber crime, demands a comprehensively resourced response.”

On that basis, the Home Secretary explained: “Now is the time to work more closely together for the security of all citizens of the UK.”

The UK Government believes that Scotland is better off as part of the UK, and that the UK is stronger, safer and more secure with Scotland as part of it.

In the event of a vote in favour of leaving the UK, Scotland would become an entirely new state and would have to establish its own security arrangements.

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