Investigatory Powers Bill petition forces debate

More than 110,000 people signed a petition calling for the bill to be repealed

spying

Parliament will be forced to debate the Investigatory Powers Bill after more than 110,000 signed an online petition from the legislation to be repealed.

The Open Rights Group, which is supporting the petition, explained it was passed while the public had their backs turned, immediately after Brexit was announced.

"The IP Bill was debated and passed while the public, media and politicians were preoccupied by Brexit," Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock said.

"Now that the Bill has passed, there is renewed concern about the extent of the powers that will be given to the police and security agencies. In particular, people appear to be worried about new powers that mean our web browsing activity can be collected by Internet Service Providers and viewed by the police and a whole range of government departments."

Adding extra weight to the argument it should be re-discussed by MPs is a complaint by MP Tom Watson, who has objected to the bill's rulings on data retention to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The court is due to announce its findings in the coming weeks, but it could result in the Investigatory Powers Bill being changed, particularly parts regarding the collection, use and access of data.

"Parliament may choose to ignore calls for a debate but this could undermine public confidence in these intrusive powers," Killock added. "A debate would also be an opportunity for MPs to discuss the implications of various court actions, which are likely to mean that the law will have to be amended."

The Investigatory Powers Bill passed through Parliament earlier in November, meaning only Royal Assent is required before it becomes law. However, this new petition means it will have to be re-discussed before being put forward for Royal Assent.

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