Another Bill suggesting open-ended legislation by Order
Proposed Part 3A (1) enables the Secretary of State to make orders to "ensure that communications data is available to be obtained from telecommunications operators ..." It does not specify what those orders might entail, and does not limit them in any significant way at all. Part (2) says [ with elisions by me for clarity]
An order under this section may, in particular ... provide for ... the entering into by such [telecommunications] operators of arrangements with the Secretary of State or other persons under or by virtue of which the Secretary of State or other persons engage in activities on behalf of the operators on a commercial or other basis for the purpose of enabling the operators to comply with requirements imposed by virtue of this section. [emphasis added]
On plain reading, this seems to enable a Home Secretary forcibly to billet a PCDC (Parasitic Communications Data Collection) Team within a telecom operator, without paying said operator.
But that would prompt outrage, you say? Their Lordships seem to have thought of this. The very next sub-para says
[An order under this section may, in particular ... ] impose requirements or restrictions on telecommunications operators or other persons or provide for the imposition of such requirements or restrictions by notice of the Secretary of State. [emphasis added]
Again, plain reading suggests that this empowers a Home Secretary to draft an order to telecoms operators saying "Get on with it", and maybe "You are not permitted publically to disclose or discuss this order", or any other wizard wheeze that he or she may think is expedient.
There is a following passage, in which the SofS is required to consult with operators, OFCOM and the RIPA Technical Advisory Board, before issuing an order, but it doesn't say that he or she must pay any attention to the consultation outcome, and I for one worry that some future Home Secretary would drive on regardless.