21 May 2009

Marvellous Doublethink on Surveillance.

From the report on surveillance by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution [1]:

We recommend that the Government consider introducing a system of judicial oversight for surveillance carried out by public authorities and that individuals who have been made the subject of surveillance be informed of that surveillance, when completed, where no investigation might be prejudiced as a result.

That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. The requirement to disclose is something I’ve argued for in the past. The Government response said:

The Government believes that the current system strikes an appropriate balance between the need for operational effectiveness on the one hand, and safeguards necessary to protect privacy. Where individuals believe powers have been used inappropriately, they can take their case to the IPT [Investigatory Powers Tribunal]. If the Tribunal upholds a complaint it is required to notify the complainant and make a report to the Prime Minister. It may, if appropriate, quash any warrant or authorisation, order the destruction of relevant material or order compensation.

That raises an obvious question for me; how am I supposed to take a case to the IPT if I’m not told that I’ve been subject to surveillance?


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