The Investigatory Powers Bill received its second reading in Parliament today (Tuesday 15th March 2016).
Whilst the SNP support targeted suspicion based surveillance which is properly authorised and overseen, and we welcome the introduction of some judicial oversight of the authorisation of warrants, we have grave concerns about other aspects of the Bill including collection of Internet connection records and bulk powers.
Undoubtedly the law needs a thorough overhaul and the attempt to consolidate a number of statutes in order to have a modern and comprehensive law is to be welcomed. We recognise that the security services and the police require adequate powers to fight terrorism and serious crime. However, such powers must always be shown to be necessary, proportionate and in accordance with the law. In particular, they must not impinge unduly on the right to privacy or the security of private data. Many of the powers in the Bill do not pass these tests.
The Government has failed to strike the right balance and whilst we are prepared to work with all parties constructively to amend the Bill in order to get the balance right, we cannot support the Bill at this time.
Many of the powers in the Bill are of questionable legality and in significant respects the powers sought go further than any other government in the west has been prepared to go. The draft bill was given insufficient time for consideration, therefore it is imperative that the Government allows for full scrutiny of the Bill. In its current form the SNP cannot give this Bill our full support.
Today we abstained and said we would work for this Bill to be significantly amended to address our concerns and those of other parliamentarians, civil liberties groups and technology companies. We made it clear that if our concerns are not addressed, we reserve the right to vote against the Bill in the later stages of its passage through Parliament.