Concerns about bulk data collection remain

John Finnie MSP, Justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today renewed concerns over the bulk collection of communications data under the Westminster Government's proposed Investigatory Powers Bill.

Mr Finnie raised concerns with police chiefs and the Justice Secretary as Holyrood's Justice Committee discussed the Legislative Consent Motion MSPs will be invited to approve to enable the devolved aspects of the Bill to take effect.

Speaking after the committee, John said:

“The Investigatory Powers Bill raises important issues about the balance that must be struck between privacy and security. Any intrusive powers should only be exercised when proportionate and when what is legitimately sought to be achieved could not be done by less intrusive means.  

"I took the opportunity to seek assurances from Police Scotland about collateral intrusion, and was assured that information from third parties gathered as a consequence of such intrusion will be deleted and not used. However, it is a concern that when I questioned the role of UK-wide police and security services operating in Scotland, Police Scotland admitted that there could be operations in Scotland of which they were unaware.

"David Anderson QC has pointed out that in relation to bulk equipment interference the operational case is not yet proven. Sadly, the UK Government intends to go ahead and authorise this significant intrusion as it remains a reserved issue.

“I welcome the judicial oversight suggested for decisions taken by Scottish Ministers and a change which means interception warrants will require to be renewed after 30 days rather than, as previously, 6 months. Given those changes and the assurances about collateral intrusion, I see no reason for not supporting the Legislative Consent Motion. But my wider concern about the reserved issue of bulk data collection remains. The Justice Secretary has recognised this and I trust he will press the point with his Westminster counterparts."