PI's Response to the UK Government's Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill

The UK is once again seeking to expand its surveillance powers. Seven years after the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 became law, the UK Government is now trying to amend it in ways which would further undermine already insufficient bulk surveillance safeguards and introduce a notification regime which could be used to prevent companies from implementing important privacy and security measures. PI is joining other UK civil society organisations in objecting to this problematic Bill.



The Snowden revelations and subsequent litigation have repeatedly identified unlawful state surveillance by UK agencies. In response, the UK Parliament passed the highly controversial Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA), which authorised massive, suspicionless surveillance on a scale never seen before, with insufficient safeguards or independent oversight.

Privacy International led legal challenges to this mass surveillance regime both before and after the Act became law. The Act itself has been subject further to litigation, including by PI and Liberty.

The Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill

Despite these ongoing and serious concerns about the IPA and its implementation by the security services, the Government now seeks to rush through significant changes to the UK’s surveillance regime that further weaken its privacy protections.

We are concerned that the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill:
• weakens safeguards when UK intelligence services collect bulk datasets of personal information, potentially allowing them to harvest millions of facial images and social media data;
• expressly permits the harvesting and processing of internet connection records (which can record what websites and apps people have been using) for generalised, mass surveillance;
• expands the range of politicians who can authorise the surveillance of parliamentarians; and
• would force technology companies, including those based overseas, to inform the UK Government of plans to improve security or privacy measures on their platforms so that the government can consider serving a notice to prevent such changes. This would erode the security of devices and the internet, effectively transforming private companies into arms of the UK surveillance state.

We are concerned that many of these powers may be incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and data protection law.

What We Are Doing

PI is pushing back on the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill by making Parliamentarians aware of our concerns.

We contributed the below joint briefing to the House of Lords in January 2024.

We also responded to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights’s call for evidence regarding the Bill.

Earlier in 2023, the UK Government consulted on the bulk powers in the IPA and the notices regime. We responded to both consultations, expressing our serious concerns.

We hope the UK Government will reconsider its position. UK surveillance needs more safeguards, not less. Whether or not the Bill becomes law, PI will continue to fight for privacy and security for all.