Insights Home Secretary publishes statutory report on operation of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016


The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 provides a framework for the use of investigatory powers by the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement and other public authorities. These powers cover:

  • the interception of communications;
  • the retention and acquisition of communications data;
  • equipment interference for obtaining communications and other data; and
  • the retention and examination of bulk personal datasets.

During the passage of the Act the Government committed to carry out a review of the legislation five years after its enactment.

To satisfy this statutory requirement, under s 260 of the 2016 Act, the Home Office has conducted an internal review into the operation of the Act to ascertain whether it remains fit for purpose. The findings of this review have informed the Home Secretary’s report.

The report finds that whilst the Act has largely met its initial aims of providing for greater oversight and enhanced safeguards, and making the powers governed by it clearer and more understandable, the review has demonstrated that the Act has not been immune to changes in technology over the last six years.

Given that we are facing a period of rapid technological change and intensifying systemic competition, the report finds that it is likely that the Act will need to be kept under review, informed by further years of operation, and more substantial reform will inevitably be necessary in future due to the continued unpredictability of developments in technology, and the challenges of forecasting the way that data is collected and stored against the evolving requirements of protecting national security and tackling serious crime.

The Home Secretary has also appointed Lord Anderson to conduct a separate review into the Act to inform any potential legislative change (see item below). To access the Home Secretary’s report, click here.