Investigatory Powers Bill: technology issues Report

The 3rd report from the Science and Technology Committee is now available to read here:


In our inquiry we have focused on critical technological aspects of the draft Bill. We have not addressed the need or otherwise for the communications monitoring provisions or whether they are proportionate to the threats they are intended to deal with. Our focus has been on how the main technological issues involved might affect the communications businesses that will have to collect data and provide access to the security authorities. If we do not get these technological aspects of the Bill right, not only will the Bill fail to achieve its security objectives but it will also damage our digital economy.


Following an initial evidence session on 10 November 2015, we launched our inquiry on 12 November. We called for written evidence on the technical feasibility and costs of meeting the obligations imposed by the Bill; the impact on communications service providers and related businesses; and the likely consequences for people using ICT services. More specifically, we sought views on the extent to which communications data and communications content could be separated and the extent to which this was reflected in the draft Bill, as well as views on encryption, bulk data collection, cloud computing, deep packet inspection and anonymous internet communications systems.


Here are some of our recommendations:

– The Government should review the draft Bill to ensure that the obligations it is creating on industry are both clear and proportionate. Furthermore, the proposed draft Codes of Practice should include the helpful, detailed examples that the Home Office have provided to us.

– The Government should clarify and state clearly in the Codes of Practice that it will not be seeking unencrypted content in such cases, in line with the way existing legislation is currently applied.
– The Government should review the composition of the Technical Advisory Board to ensure that it will have members from industry who will be able to give proper consideration.