Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

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This article is part of the Counter-Terrorism Portal project of Spinwatch.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, also referred to as RIPA is a piece of UK legislation which sets out the legal arrangements for the interception of communication. Under RIPA, only the Security Services (MI5), Intelligence Services (MI6) and Law Enforcement agencies, such as the Police, can apply for the right to intercept communications. The Home Secretary has to sign and authorise any request to intercept communications.[1]

In 2007, there were a total of 2,026 RIPA authorisations that were signed. The Home Secretary signed and authorised 1,881 of these and the Scottish Executive signed and authorised 145 of these. [2]

Access to Non-Government Data

Under RIPA, the communication data and information that is held by private companies, such as internet service providers (ISP's) and telecoms companies has to be disclosed to Law Enforcement and Security Service Agencies under the provisions of RIPA.


The following is from an article in The Guardian:

Civil liberties groups and privacy campaigners claim the act fails to provide adequate safeguards to protect individual privacy and offers no way for an individual to obtain effective redress if the powers are abused.
When the act was passed in 2000, only nine organisations, including the police and security services, were allowed access to communications records but privacy campaigners say that too many public bodies now have access to the information. In 2007, there were 519,260 requisitions of communications data from telephone companies and ISPs.
The nickname "snooper's charter" has clung to the act amid widespread public anxiety about the misuse of these powers. Concern was heightened in June 2008, when 121 councils revealed they had used the legislation during a 12-month period to monitor behaviour by examining the private communications of residents.
James Welch, legal director for Liberty, said: "It's one thing to use covert surveillance in operations investigating terrorism and other serious crimes, but it has come to a pretty pass when this kind of intrusive activity is used to police school catchment areas.[3]