Queen Elizabeth II has has given Royal Ascent to the Investigatory Powers Bill, which officially makes it a law.
Legal challenges against the bill are already under way, and popular opposition to the law has already gathered over 133,000 citizens to sign a petition calling for its repeal. It is unlikely to happen, but the petition's case must now be considered by Parliament for further debate.
Members of the Don't Spy on Us coalition continuing their involvement in legal action against the proposed mass surveillance powers. The organisation notes: “The UK's legal regime for bulk surveillance is being challenged in two separate cases at the ECHR, while the data retention regime is being questioned in the UK and EU courts in the Watson (previously Watson-Davis) challenge.”
A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, expected next year, may mean that parts of the Bill are shown to be unlawful and need to be amended.
Digital rights campaigner, exeutive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, responded to the announcement saying: “Amber Rudd says the Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation. She is right, it is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy. Its impact will be felt beyond the UK as other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance regimes.”
Adding: “Although there are some improvements to oversight, the Bill will mean the police and intelligence agencies have unprecedented powers to surveil our private communications and Internet activity, whether or not we are suspected of a crime.”