Draft Technical Capability Regulations notified to European Commission following targeted consultation

Security Minister Ben Wallace

Security Minister Ben Wallace

The Home Office has notified the European Commission of regulations designed to help make companies maintain the technical capability to respond to warrants and authorisations from law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies.

The Investigatory Powers (Technical Capability) Regulations 2017 do not include any new powers, but relate to powers already set out in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 which enable the Secretary of State to give a ‘Technical Capability Notice’ to a telecommunications operator in relation to interception, communications data or equipment interference.

The purpose of a ‘Technical Capability Notice’ is to ensure that, when a warrant or authorisation is served on or given to an operator, the company has the capability to provide assistance in giving effect to it both securely and quickly.

The use of these powers is vital in the fight against terrorism, crime and other national security threats.

Security Minister Ben Wallace stated: “Technical advances present ever-evolving opportunities for terrorists and criminals. These regulations will help to make sure that we maintain the capabilities needed to confront this challenge subject to strict safeguards.”

The regulations do not impose requirements on telecommunications operators, but do set out the specific obligations that may be imposed on operators in a ‘Technical Capability Notice’, including those which relate to maintaining the capability to remove encryption in response to a specific warrant or authorisation.

The move comes after a targeted consultation which included hearing views from telecommunications operators likely to receive a ‘Technical Capability Notice’, bodies that hold statutory functions in relation to operators (such as the Investigatory Powers Commissioner) and the Technical Advisory Board.

Following notification under the Technical Standards Directive, the regulations have been published and there will now be a three-month ‘standstill’ period, during which time they can be considered by the European Commission and Member States.

The secondary legislation will be subject to a debate and a vote in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons before such time that it can come into effect.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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