On 27 May 2015, the Queen gave her speech to the Houses of Parliament on plans for the new government. Two controversial proposals from a privacy law perspective are the Investigatory Powers Bill and the Bill of Rights. Both have been in the pipeline for several years: the Investigatory Powers Bill to enhance powers for authorities to access communications data (previously proposed in the form of a Communications Data Bill), and the proposed Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act, which includes the right to a private life (although there was no actual mention of replacing the Human Rights Act in the Queen’s Speech).
Whilst there are legitimate concerns over these proposals, I plan to wait until the details are more advanced to consider their actual impact. Government access to communications data is not a completely new thing – the proposals aim to update existing law to facilitate access to internet data in order combat crime and terrorism. The data protection and privacy aspects of course need consideration in application of the powers (particularly in light of the EU ruling last year on the law governing retention of communications data). Similarly, the plan is not to scrap fundamental human rights entirely, but to change the way the rights are applied and enforced within the UK.
Olivia Whitcroft, principal of OBEP, 29 May 2015
This article provides general information on the subject matter and is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice. If you would like to discuss this topic, please contact Olivia Whitcroft using the contact details set out here: Contact Details