Moderating RIPA (slightly)

When RIPA was being pushed through Parliament in 1999, some of us were very concerned at its apparent extensibility — especially (i) the scope it offered for its powers to be extended virtually without limit to any public authority in the UK, and (ii) its use for purposes other than detecting organised crime and terrorism. And lo! it came about — the Act has been used by Local Authorities to legitimise snooping in all kinds of areas, none of them connected with terrorism or organised crime.

The abuses have become so outrageous that now there’s to be a public consultation on the matter. here’s the text of the official announcement:

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000: Consolidating orders and codes of practice

Passed in 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (called RIPA), created a regulatory framework to govern the way public authorities handle and conduct covert investigations.

This consultation takes a look at all the public agencies, offices and councils that can use investigation techniques covered by RIPA, and asks the public to consider whether or not it’s appropriate for those people to be allowed to use those techniques.

In light of recent concerns, the government is particularly interested in how local authorities use RIPA to conduct investigations into local issues. Among other things, in order to ensure that RIPA powers are only used when they absolutely need to be, the government proposes to raise the rank of those in local authorities who are allowed to authorise use of RIPA techniques.

To respond to the consultation, reply by email to

You can also reply by post to:

Tony Cooper
Home Office
Peel Building 5th Floor
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF