One of parliament’s most senior committees has criticised the Government’s proposed snooping powers, saying that the bill enabling them was rushed.
The influential Intelligence and Security Committee has said that the landmark Investigatory Powers Bill gives spies far too many powers.
In particular, it drew attention to rules that allow for bulk equipment interference — spies being allowed to hack into phones and other devices on a mass scale, and requiring that companies help them. It said that the bill was unclear about how these warrants might work and that it was “not convinced as to the requirement for them”.
The government had hoped to pass the bill early this year, renewing powers that are set to soon expire. But the new report could be a major blow for the government’s hopes to get the bill through parliament quickly and smoothly.
It said the proposals in their current form represent a "missed opportunity" and called for ministers to make a number of substantial changes.
It described the approach in the Bill towards security services' examination of communications data - the who, when and where but not the content of an email or phone call - as "inconsistent and largely incomprehensible".
Tory MP Dominic Grieve, chairman of the committee, said: "The issues under consideration are undoubtedly complex, however it has been evident that even those working on the legislation have not always been clear as to what the provisions are intended to achieve."
Mr Grieve added: "The draft Bill appears to have suffered from a lack of sufficient time and preparation."