Admit they are upping their use of mass snooping
UK spies are planning to increase their use of bulk equipment interference, as the range of encrypted hardware and software applications they can't tap into increases.
At the time the Investigatory Powers Bill was passing through Parliament – it was signed into law in 2016 – EI hadn't been used, but it was already seen an alternative to bulk interception.
However, it was expected to be authorised through targeted or targeted thematic warrants; as then-independent reviewer of terrorism David Anderson wrote at the time, "bulk EI is likely to be only sparingly used".
Since then, though, GCHQ's use of these bulk powers has "evolved", according to a letter (PDF) to members of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, by security minister Ben Wallace.
During the passage of the Investigatory Powers legislation, he said, the government anticipated bulk EI warrants would be "the exception", and "be limited to overseas 'discovery' based EI operations".