My independent Investigatory Powers Act review was announced on 17 January. I am conducting the review together with a small strap-cleared team comprising

  • Natasha Barnes, barrister at 1 Crown Office Row
  • John Davies, a member of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Technology Advisory Panel.

The scope of my review is determined by:

  • The Home Secretary’s Statutory Report on the operation of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which was published today
  • My Terms of Reference, which were also cleared for publication today and will be published on the website in due course

Paragraph 3 of my Terms of Reference ask me to focus the review on five specific issues, with priority given to considerations relating to the bulk personal dataset regime in Part 7 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. I am particularly interested not only in exploring the administrative simplifications mooted at p.15 of the Home Secretary’s report, but in hearing informed views about the best way to regulate the acquisition and/or use of bulk personal datasets given the changes referred to in paragraph 2 of my Terms of Reference.

The report needs to be finalised by early April. Constraints related to the timetable for possible future legislation means that the time scale for comment must of necessity be short.

I welcome written comments on any matters within my terms of reference by email to [email protected].

Comments should be sent as soon as possible, and by 10 March at the latest.

I shall assume that you are willing for your comments to be attributed, quoted and published unless you indicate otherwise.

Postscript (17 February)

This list of Specific Topics offers slightly more detail than my Terms of Reference on some of the proposals that we will be considering. Those proposals do not represent government policy but give some further indication of the ways in which it has been suggested to me that some of the ideas in the Statutory Report might be given effect. Note, in particular:

  • the reference to “all types of datasets” in para 1(a): is there an argument for applying different authorisation/oversight to different types of dataset?
  • the question relating to targeted examination warrants in para 5
  • some further references to provisions of the Act

I will post regarding next steps once the 10 March deadline for written submissions has passed.