This assessment piece focuses upon the following research question:

This assessment piece focuses
upon the following research question: ‘Are the powers for the monitoring of
electronic communications in the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act an unwarranted restriction of individual liberties?
Referring to Gearty in the answer.’ This piece will critically evaluate the
Investigatory Powers Act 2016, where a brief background on the Act will be
stated, a thorough analysis of the Act’s legal issues and precedent will be
examined, the restriction of individual liberties and whether the restrictions
are unwarranted will be discussed, and the implications to which this Act
brings forth will be scrutinised.

 

The Investigatory Powers
Bill gained Royal Assent on the 29th November 2016, now known as the
Investigatory Powers Act 2016.12 In 2013, the extent to
which data was being used by the security services was revealed by Edward
Snowden who was a former CIA contractor releasing details of covert US mass
surveillance programmes, which further revealed that countries such as the UK
and other western locations also had similar programmes in place.3 Therefore, the IPA 2016
came about to serve as a purpose to consolidate the investigatory powers by law
enforcement, security, intelligence agencies and public authorities, clarifying
the use of powers and safeguards that apply to them.4 It specifies the retention
and acquisition of communications data, the interception of communications,
examination of bulk personal datasets, and equipment interference.5 The introduction to an Investigatory
Powers Judicial Commissioner has come into action who oversee, authorise and
rectify the use of these powers.6 This has created a ‘double-lock’
system for the use of warrants where both the Secretary of State and the
Investigatory Powers Judicial Commissioner must authorise and approve a
warrant, otherwise it will not come into force.7 The Act underwent
pre-legislative scrutiny by three committees: the Intelligence and Security
Committee of Parliament, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee,
and by both Houses of Parliament.8 The government claims that
with an ever-growing digital society, law and power must catch up with the
digital age, and therefore the IPA 2016 restores the capabilities which have
been lost due to the change of communications among people.9 Though, from a legal
perspective, many questions and cases (Watson10 case) have arisen to
whether the IPA 2016 is an unwarranted restriction of individual liberties.

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