Journalistic material must not be retained by Investigatory Powers Commissioner

  • 04 Jul 2023

The Joint Human Rights Committee has urged the UK government to adopt its recommendation preventing the Commissioner from retaining material where there is no public interest.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published its report on the UK government’s proposal for a draft Investigatory Powers Act 2016 remedial order.

The Act permits the examination, retention and bulk interception of confidential journalistic material, and government's draft order attempts to remedy its incompatibility with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Although the committee welcomed action to address the human rights breach, it recommended the order be amended to ensure the Investigatory Powers Commissioner cannot retain journalistic material where there is no public interest. 

The committee said:

“We recommend that the proposed draft be amended to reflect that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner must order the relevant material to be destroyed unless the public interest test is met. The Commissioner must not be empowered to authorise the retention of the relevant material—even with conditions—where the public interest test has not been met.”

The NUJ welcomes the report and will monitor government’s actions in laying its draft order. This year, the union intervened in Liberty’s Investigatory Powers Act appeal highlighting threats to journalists if state bodies can conduct searches of communications without authorisation, placing sources at risk.  

NUJ intervenes in Liberty's "Snoopers’ Charter" appeal. 

Read the committee's report. 

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