Investigatory Powers Bill

Investigatory Powers Bill, House of Lords, Second Reading, Monday 27 June 2016

Key messages

  • The Local Government Association supports the Investigatory Powers Bill which seeks to retain council's access to communications data as defined in Clauses 58 and 69. We also support Clause 233 which introduces the new definitions of communications data with entities and events data replacing subscriber, service use and traffic data.
  • Although they are not the main users of communications data, teams within councils, such as trading standards, use communications data to tackle a range of criminal activity and fraud. It is vital that the powers to access communications data identified in Clauses 58 and 69 keep pace with the technology through which an increasing amount of criminal activity is perpetrated, and continue to be retained by councils.  If councils do not have access to communications data, it should not be assumed that police forces would have the capacity to take this work on from trading standards teams.
  • Councils will remain subject to more stringent oversight than any other body accessing communications data due to the requirement for them to seek judicial authorisation before accessing communications data. This safeguard was introduced to address concerns about misuse of council surveillance powers in an isolated case several years ago. This has proved to be effective, as only 19 out of 6,000 (0.3 per cent) of council applications to access communications data have been refused by magistrates between 2012 to 2015. This confirms that the powers are being used proportionately.
  • The LGA supports the continuation of the safeguards identified in Clause 71 as an important means of ensuring public confidence. However, we are calling for the process of judicial authorisation to be more efficient so that it does not hinder appropriate use of communications data by councils.

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Investigatory Powers Bill, House of Lords, Second Reading Monday 27 June 2016


Investigatory Powers Bill, House of Commons Committee Stage, Thursday 14 April 2016

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the Investigatory Powers Bill as it proposes to retain councils' access to communications data, as set out in Clauses 53 and 64. We also support Clause 223 which introduces the new definitions of communications data with ‘entities' and ‘events' data replacing subscriber, service use and traffic data.
  • We therefore oppose amendments 238, 239 and 240 to Clauses 64, 65 and 66 of the Bill tabled by Joanna Cherry MP (SNP, Edinburgh South West) and Gavin Newlands MP (Paisley and Renfrewshire North, SNP). These would remove local authorities from the list of relevant public bodies who would be entitled to access communications data. As such, these amendments would prevent local authorities from tackling a range of criminal activity and fraud. If councils do not have access to communications data, it should not be assumed that police forces would have the capacity to take this work on from trading standards teams.
  • Although they are not the main users of communications data, teams within councils, such as trading standards, use communications data to tackle a range of criminal activity and fraud. It is vital that the powers to access communications data set out in Clauses 53 and 64 keep pace with the technology through which an increasing amount of criminal activity is perpetrated, and that councils continue to retain these powers.

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Investigatory Powers Bill, House of Commons Committee Stage, Thursday 14 April 2016


Investigatory Powers Bill, House of Commons, Second Reading,15 March 2016

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the intention of the Investigatory Powers Bill which seeks to retain councils' access to communications data as defined in Clauses 53 and 64. We also support Clause 223 which introduces the new definitions of communications data with ‘entities' and ‘events' data replacing subscriber, service use and traffic data.
  • Although they are not the main users of communications data, teams within councils, such as trading standards, use communications data to tackle a range of criminal activity and fraud. It is vital that the powers to access communications data identified in Clauses 53 and 64 keep pace with the technology through which an increasing amount of criminal activity is perpetrated, and councils continue to retain these powers.
  • Councils will remain subject to more stringent oversight than any other body accessing communications data due to the requirement for them to seek judicial authorisation before accessing communications data. The LGA supports the safeguards identified in Clause 66 as an important means of ensuring public confidence. We are calling for the process of judicial authorisation to be more efficient so that it does not hinder appropriate use of communications data by councils.

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5 January 2017