Understanding the Investigatory Powers Act 2016


BY Michael Edache


The Investigatory Powers Act (IPA 2016) currently outlines and regulates the powers available to the police, security and intelligence agencies in accumulating and use of electronic communication Effectively repealing the Data Retention Provisions, (DRIPA 2014) which expired on the 31st Dec 2016, the corresponding provisions of the IPA 2016 have already been brought into force. Often referred to as the ‘Snoopers Charter’ the Act is designed fundamentally to carry out two principle aims. First the interception of communication and the obtaining of communication data through a hacking process, whilst the second involves retaining of intercepted data. The Act is aimed at enabling a firm and transparent statutory footing for law enforcement agents as well as equipping the intelligence agencies’ with the powers to intercept communications, hack computers, and network organisation to obtain significant intelligence.


What changes has the IPA 2016 brought about?


By virtue of the IPA 2016, the offence of intercepting communications without lawful authority is afforded a broad width. The offence now covers all communications stored in telecommunication before transmission. It provides a much-enhanced safeguard including the requirement of judicial approval before warrants enter into force, consequently providing additional protection for privileged protection for sensitive material. The Act will also impose a number of new penalties for the wrongful examination of data. Telecommunications operations will now benefit from an extensive list of purposes for which they are authorised to intercept communications including the provision of the service, the enforcement in relation to the service and the provision of service or facilities aimed at preventing or restricting the viewing of publication of content.


How will the IPA 2016 affect me?      


Hacking powers and your personal devices. The Act now provides Security Services with the powers to be able to hack into computers, networks, mobile devices. The practice is known as equipment interference. Accordingly, this will involve activities such as downloading data from a mobile phone that is stolen or left unattended.


Your Web records


By virtue of the IPA 2016, Security Services and Police forces are now able to have straightforward access to individual web records when needed to facilitate their investigations. This means that a compilation of individual internet history will have to be stored for a period of 12 months. Communication service providers including all internet and telecommunication providers will be required to have stored data on any communications made through the use of their services allowing the records to be pulled up when required. Intelligent agencies are also afforded the right to use bulk data which will comprise of randomly selected mass data of individuals not necessarily suspected or any wrong doings.

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