The second formal draft of the Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as the Snooper’s Charter, has been revised after it was criticised by every group in charge of scrutinising it.

Theresa May presented the new version of the bill which include provisions for the privacy of users. However, a key part of the re-draft expands the powers given to police when it comes to looking at Internet Connection Records, or a complete list of websites that a person has visited.


In earlier versions of the bill, police access to IRCs was restricted to viewing the illegal websites that a person had visited, but now they can see a person’s full browsing history if it has been deemed relevant and helpful to an investigation. Internet service providers like BT and Sky will be required to store the records for each person in the UK for one year in order to allow police to access them.

A new clause stating that browsing history can only be acquired by the Government or intelligence agencies for a “specific investigation” and only when it is “necessary and proportionate” has been added.

The privacy safeguarding of users in the legislation includes a “double-lock” approach to gaining the information – meaning that it can only be accessed if  they have ministerial and judicial permission. In addition to the double-lock, security services and the police have to obtain a senior judge’s permission before identifying a journalist’s source and there will be a time limit on the examination of the personal information downloaded.

Many have criticised the bill, with civil liberties campaigners claiming that the Snooper’s Charter paves the way for mass surveillance of citizens in the UK and infringes on the public’s right to privacy. Moreover, as the bill is to be passed by December, there are claims that it is being ushered in quickly in the hope that the bill will go unnoticed and that it will not become the focus of mainstream news.

tim cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Technology giant Apple also criticised the Investigatory Powers Bill, saying: “We believe there is a need for much greater clarity as to how the powers in the bill will be applied. Not least because, once again, the [powers] could endanger the privacy and security of users in the UK and elsewhere.”

Despite this criticism, the Home Office and ministers have said that the bill is being brought in to combat terrorism in the UK after police requests for more powers to access internet records when monitoring suspects to aid them in investigations.

Ms May said: “This is vital legislation and we are determined to get it right. The revised bill we introduced today reflects the majority of the committees’ recommendations.”