Quilliam welcomes the Report on the Investigatory Powers Review from the Independent Reviewer of Counter-Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC.
As Quilliam has long argued, all counter-terrorism measures must uphold the highest standards of human rights. We therefore welcome the recommendations that all existing and new powers are limited in accordance with international human rights standards.
In particular, we believe that the proposed requirement of judicial authorisation of all warrants for interception and of novel and contentious requests for communications data will help improve the accountability of these powers, as will the introduction of the Independent Surveillance and Intelligence Commission.
As this is such a sensitive area, we welcome this independence, this oversight, this promotion of judicial authorisation and this renewed commitment to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Public perception of counter-terrorism measures is of vital importance to effective counter-extremism, so we welcome recommendations to increase the comprehensibility of investigatory powers and oversight of these powers.
However, we maintain our reservations about the collection and retention of bulk communications data, which we feel is often a disproportionate and illiberal intrusion into personal information. We encourage further public and parliamentary debate about the necessity of these powers before they are adopted, but welcome this step towards increased oversight and judicial authorisation.
We also clarify that these investigatory powers would only help with the Pursue and Protect strands of the government’s CONTEST strategy and are not to be seen as effective counter-extremism measures under Prevent.
Quilliam believes that effective counter-terrorism relies on underpinning from a comprehensive counter-extremism strategy, and urge therefore that investigatory powers legislation is not seen as an alternative to this. Given the rise to prominence of “self-starters” committing terrorism-related offences domestically or through travel to Syria and Iraq, we consider that increased legislation and surveillance, while more likely to achieve prosecution, would be unlikely to prevent many of the cases we have seen, and therefore encourage a comprehensive non-legislative and non-surveillance approach to countering extremism of all kinds.
Quilliam’s Political Liaison Officer Jonathan Russell says:
“This report is welcome analysis of the investigatory powers of the security services and strikes a good balance between keeping our country safe and protecting the rights of all our citizens. Modern technology is exploited by those who wish to do us harm, but as David Anderson has shown, our response need not be illiberal to be effective.”
For further comment, please contact Quilliam’s media desk on 02071827280 or by emailing [email protected]