Lords to Debate IP Bill Next Week

The Investigatory Powers Bill will be debated by peers as it receives its second reading on Monday.  

The News Media Association believes further comprehensive and robust safeguards are vital to protect journalistic activities, material and sources against undue state surveillance.  

The Bill governs the use of covert surveillance powers that could shadow every step of a journalist’s news gathering from tracking internet research, to locating sources through communications data, to recording conversations, to allowing access to the media’s encrypted database of unpublished material.  

The media is united in its call for stronger journalistic protections. Specifically, the Bill must be changed:

  • to require prior judicial approval, after hearing media representations;
  • to require prior notice to be given to the media of the authorisation application and;
  • to include a robust set of freedom of expression conditions for the applicant to satisfy;
  • to ensure the media’s right to participate in the hearing of an application before an independent judge, with rights of swift appeal, before use of the power is authorised.

This ensures that the judge has actually heard all the relevant information necessary to make the decision on approval of any authorisation and its extent.

These requirements should apply to any authorisation of the various investigatory powers set out in the Bill and RIPA in relation to journalistic activities and sources.

The Government has acknowledged in previous debates on the Bill that “journalists serve a public interest” and that a “vital aspect of journalism” is “the non-disclosure of the source of journalists’ material.”

The NMA has met with ministers and will continue to press for vital journalistic protections as the Bill continues its passage.