In response to the Joint Committee into the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, ISPA welcomes a number of the clear and robust recommendations from the Committee to help improve the draft Bill. Some specific industry concerns, outlined in detail below, include how to define ‘communications data’, Internet Connection Records, costs to industry and the status of the request filter.

This is the third parliamentary report expressing major concerns with the new legislation. The Science and Technology Committee said the Bill risks undermining the UK’s technology and communications sectors and the Intelligence and Security Committee said the bill does not do enough to protect privacy. With these concerns and those expressed by industry, academia and NGOs, the Home Office has a substantial task ahead to meet the serious concerns identified by Parliament.  It is crucial that sufficient time is now given to allow the legislation to be improved and redrafted.

Responding to the publication of the report, ISPA Chair James Blessing said “This report adds to the chorus of voices calling for the Home Office to change the legislation so it’s feasible, proportionate and does not harm the UK Internet industry. ISPA believes a new framework is needed to replace the various outdated laws, but we need further clarity on Internet Connection Records, definitions and costs”.

Communications data

  • We agree with the Committee that the definitions remain problematic, in some cases are ‘unclear and unhelpful’, and need greater clarity and precision. ISPA is ready to work with Government and Parliament to ensure greater clarity is achieved

 Internet Connection Records

  • We support the Committee’s call that the ‘significant’ concerns outlined with ICRs – including a consistent definition and technical feasibility need to be addressed for the Bill to command the necessary support. We hope that the misleading allusion to ICRs being described as a mere itemised phone bill is no longer used.

Data retention

  • We agree with the Committee that industry should receive ‘whatever financial and technical support is necessary’ as data is not being held for business purposes, but feel that this could be made more clear through a commitment to full cost recovery, as supported by the Science and Technology Committee’s report. Cost recovery acts as a clear safeguard by providing a link between public expenditure and the use of powers
  • We welcome the call for the Home Office to make explicit that third party data should not be included in the draft Bill and the term “relevant communications data” be removed
  • More detail is required to clarify the types of data it expects CSPs to generate and in what quantities


  • We support the call that Government should make explicit that encrypted data can only be sought via a warrant while not requiring backdoors to be built into systems. We further support the call, also put forward by the Science and Technology Committee, that companies offering end-to-end encryption will not be expected to decrypt data if not practicable

Bulk Equipment Interference Warrants

  • Government must review the case for bulk equipment interference warrants and the impact they could have on system damage and collateral intrusion

Request filter

  • ISPA notes the Committee’s support for the request filter but we are keen to understand how the significant technical and security challenges can be met


  • We agree that more careful consideration to the consequences of enforcing extraterritoriality needs to be made, including by re-doubling efforts to implement Sheinwald’s recommendations


  • ISPA agrees that more work is required to deliver a ‘world-leading’ oversight regime thorough judicial commissioners that protects privacy, but allows for the necessary and proportionate use of investigatory powers

About ISPA

The Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA UK) is the voice of the UK internet industry to Government, parliament, regulators, media and the public. For a list of members or other information about ISPA, please visit or see the @ISPAUK twitter page.

The views expressed in this release are those of the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) and do not necessarily reflect the corporate policies of the individual companies that are members of the Association or other organisations that may be mentioned in the release. For further editorial information, please contact the ISPA Press Office (020 3397 3308 or