The Commissioner has published a Memorandum on surveillance and oversight mechanisms in the UK today. In the Memorandum he commends the UK government for its attempt to overhaul the investigatory powers framework by providing a world-leading Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently the subject of thorough parliamentary scrutiny. This type of parliamentary scrutiny provides a welcome example to other Council of Europe member states.
Whilst welcoming a number of positive developments, such as the creation of a single unified Investigatory Powers Commissioner with responsibility for surveillance oversight, the Commissioner expresses his concern about certain issues such as the compatibility of the bulk interception and equipment interference powers proposed in the above Bill with the European Convention on Human Rights. He also stresses that greater protection needs to be provided in the Bill for legal professional privilege and for communications of politicians and journalists. In addition, the Commissioner highlights the need for oversight bodies and systems to be periodically evaluated to assess whether or not they possess the necessary attributes to be effective.
The Memorandum also covers the ‘Prevent’ anti-radicalisation programme. The UK authorities are called on to involve Muslim communities further in community dialogue and development of such programmes, as well as to promote tolerance and social cohesion by enhancing inter-religious and cross-cultural dialogue.