Interception of Communications Commissioner

The Interception of Communications Commissioner is a post provided for by RIPA to oversee the use of RIPA interception powers. The Commissioner should hold or have held high judicial office, and is appointed by the Prime Minister. The Commissioner has nine inspectors to oversee the use of communications data and prison interception, and two office staff.

To conduct the oversight function, the Commissioner has the power to obtain “documents and information as he may require” from officials, and has a half-year reporting obligation to the Prime Minister. This regular report, which was most recently published in March 2015 [1], reports top-line statistics regarding state access to communication data, but these are not broken down by the types of crime investigated. In addition, the Commissioner’s Office writes to individuals it discovers have been the subjects of questionable surveillance, encouraging them to bring a case to the IPT. The Anderson Review describes the Commissioner’s reports as “by no means whitewashing exercises”, noting the several significant caveats and hundreds of recommendations made to public authorities in the most recent report and commends them as “a model of their kind”. [2]

A major recommendation of the Anderson Review is to merge the existing functions of the IOCCO with the other commissioners to form the Independent Surveillance and Intelligence Commission.

 

[1] Accessible at http://www.iocco-uk.info/

[2] David Anderson Q.C., ‘A question of trust’, Report of the Investigatory Powers Review, July 2015, p.120.