View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
September 1, 2017

Watchdog set up to oversee police use of new spying powers

By PA Medialawyer and Press Gazette

Spying powers used by police, intelligence agencies and other public authorities will be scrutinised by a newly-created watchdog from Friday.

Lord Justice Fulford was appointed as the UK’s first Investigatory Powers Commissioner in March.

The position was created as part of a strengthened oversight regime in the landmark Investigatory Powers Act, which passed into law last year.

The new law builds on changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) which were passed by Parliament in March 2015 after the Press Gazette Save Our Sources campaign.

RIPA was most notoriously used to find and punish police officers who gave information to The Sun about the Plebgate affair of September 2012.

It has also been used unlawfully by Cleveland Police force to grab call data from journalists in a bid to find the source of leaks to the press.

Supported by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO), Lord Justice Fulford will oversee the use of tactics such as bulk collection of communications data and interception of emails and phone calls.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

The move brings the oversight regime under one umbrella, after it was previously split between three different bodies.

The IPCO will inspect hundreds of public authorities each year, including intelligence services, law enforcement agencies, local authorities and prisons.

A “double lock” regime will be introduced for the most intrusive techniques, so that warrants issued by a Secretary of State will now require the approval of a senior judge.

This measure will be brought into force incrementally over the next year and once it has started, judicial commissioners will consider whether they agree with ministers’ decisions to authorise the use of intrusive investigatory powers. Commissioners will have the power to refuse warrants.

Lord Justice Fulford said:”From today, and for the first time, investigatory powers will be overseen by a single body applying a consistent, rigorous and independent inspection regime across public authorities.

“This is an important milestone as we start to implement the new oversight powers set out in the Investigatory Powers Act.”

The Act was drawn up to bring a host of techniques used by security services, police and other authorities into one legal regime.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the Act offers a “world-leading oversight regime”.

She added: “In commencing his oversight responsibility, Lord Justice Fulford is playing a vital role in providing the enhanced safeguards we set out in the Act.”

Picture: Pixabay

Topics in this article : ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network