The House of Lords has passed the Investigatory Powers Bill, putting the huge spying powers on their way to becoming law within weeks. The bill – which forces internet companies to keep records on their users for up to a year, and allows the Government to force companies to hack into or break things they’ve sold so they can be spied on – has been fought against by privacy campaigners and technology companies including Apple and Twitter.
But the Government has worked to continue to pass the bill, despite objections from those companies that the legislation is not possible to enforce and would make customers unsafe. The House of Lords’s agreement to the text now means that it just awaits Royal Assent, at which point it will become law.
Despite criticism from almost every major technology and internet company – including usually reticent ones like Apple – and from senior parliamentary committees the legislation has received little opposition in parliament. Early on, the only amendment that the bill received from MPs was a measure that stopped themselves being spied on, and while Labour has raised objections to the sweeping spying powers it has not voted against the bill.
Those opposing the bill argue that it has been hastily written and is being pushed through parliament too quickly to ensure that it doesn't receive full scrutiny. That has led to the bill including measures that are still undefined and so could be used by the government to force companies to do almost anything, tech firms have argued.