Download the full outcome
Detail of outcome
This is the government’s response to the Legislation to Counter State Threats (Hostile State Activity) public consultation. This should be read alongside the National Security Bill which was introduced in Parliament on 11 May 2022.
This consultation sets out the government’s proposals and seeks input to inform the final policy and legislative proposals.
At their core the legislative proposals in the consultation seek to do 3 things:
- modernise existing counter espionage laws to reflect the modern threat and modern legislative standards
- create new offences, tools and powers to detect, deter and disrupt hostile activity in and targeted at the UK
- improve our ability to protect official data and ensure the associated offences reflect the greater ease at which significant harm can be done
These proposals, which are intentionally designed to be country and actor agnostic, include:
- reform of the Official Secrets Acts 1911, 1920 and 1939 – these acts contain the core espionage offences which have failed to keep pace with the threat and modern legal standards
- reform of the Official Secrets Act 1989 – which governs the law around the unauthorised disclosure of official material and its onward disclosure
- the creation of a Foreign Influence Registration Scheme – an important new tool to help combat espionage, interference, and to protect research in sensitive subject areas, as well as to provide a greater awareness of foreign influence currently being exerted in the UK
The consultation also considers whether there is the case for new tools and powers to criminalise other harmful activity conducted by, and on behalf of states.