UK Draft Bill on Surveillance Threatens Protection of Journalists' Sources

Update: 01 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 16 Nov 2015 Country United Kingdom Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 Alert level Level 2
16 Nov 2015 United Kingdom E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 Level 2

On November 2015, a draft bill on surveillance was introduced to the British Parliament by Theresa May, Home Secretary of the UK. Designed to reinforce the investigative powers of the police and intelligence services, the text grants to police forces, tax inspectors and other public servants the power to access data related to communications’ traffic (including internet communications) without prior judicial review. Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative for Media freedom said: “The proposed bill provides for a wide expanse of surveillance activities that could fundamentally alter the way the state protects the freedom to seek, receive and impart information. (…) Any legislation that allows government snooping must be narrowly drawn and include guarantees, as a basic pre-condition for investigative journalism”. Journalists of the Guardian daily called for the revision of the draft bill nicknamed ‘snooper’s charter’ : “If sources understand they can be identified in this way they will be reluctant to risk dismissal (or possibly prosecution) to pass on information”.


New 01 Feb 2018 : On 30 January 2018, Appeal Court judges ruled the mass digital surveillance regime foreseen by the Investigatory Powers Act illegal. According to the judges, this regime lacked adequate safeguards around accessing personal data, including the absence of “prior review by a court or independent administrative authority”.
29 Nov 2016 : On 29 November 2016 the Investigatory Powers Bill received Royal Assent, thus officially becoming law.
18 Nov 2016 : On 17 November 2016, the House of Lords has passed the Investigatory Powers Bill. The House of Lords' agreement to the text means that it just awaits Royal Assent to become law.
07 Mar 2016 : The UK Government introduced proposals to Parliament, revising the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The Parliament is expected to review the re-drafted Bill and pass the final version by the end of 2016, when the current legislation governing surveillance laws expires.

State replies

15 Dec 2015 : Response of the United Kingdom Government


18 Nov 2016 : OSCE Representative warns of negative consequences for investigative journalism when Investigative Powers Bill becomes law in the United Kingdom
17 May 2016 : Commissioner publishes Memorandum on surveillance in the UK
10 Nov 2015 : OSCE media freedom representative urges caution and further consideration of new Investigatory Powers Bill in the United Kingdom

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