The Investigatory Powers Bill (“the Bill”) completed its passage through the House of Commons on 7 June 2016 when it passed its third reading by 444 votes to 69. The Bill now goes to the House of Lords for further consideration.

English law currently has no system defining the powers of security services. The object of the Bill is to create a clear-cut framework to regulate investigatory powers (specifically hacking and bugging computers and phones and the collection of personal communications data) and how such powers may be enforced by security services.

Amongst other things, the Bill in its current proposed form imposes a new legal obligation on companies to assist in any such data collection operations. Web and phone companies in particular will be required to store records of websites for access by police and security services.

Although there are some safeguards in place (especially as regards to requests for data from sensitive professions such as journalists), there are concerns that the Bill disproportionately expands the powers of the state should it pass through the House of Lords without significant amendment.

The government aims that this new legislation enters into force by 31 December 2016.