On 29 November 2016, the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (Act) received Royal Assent. The timetable for its implementation is yet to be published, but it is expected to come into force early 2017.
The Act sets out and governs the powers available to the police, security and intelligence agencies to gather and access electronic communications.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd has commented"At a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe".
On the opposite side of the coin Edward Snowden has taken to twitter to comment “The UK has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes farther than many autocracies”.
Is the Act a welcomed boost to security in a world where the threat of terrorism is a growing concern or an invasion of privacy? There can be no doubt this Act will leave many people divided.
The Queen has given Royal Assent to the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, which ratifies the snooping powers of the UK's intelligence agencies. Introduced by Theresa May when she was home secretary, the bill legitimises the security services' surveillance powers while adding checks on their ability to gather information about citizens without a warrant. It introduces the need for a judge's sign-off on "the most intrusive powers", as well as a new Investigatory Powers Commissioner to monitor how they're used.