Analysis of Part III of the (draft) Electronics Communications Act 1999

The Commissioner


The office of Commissioner is set up by Clause 17 and is clearly modelled on the equivalent position in the Interception of Communications Act 1985, a post currently occupied by Lord Nolan.

Fundamental problems

The Commissioner has to have high judicial office (within the meaning of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876). To put this in plain English, they have to be a senior judge who knows absolutely zip about cryptography.

The Commissioner is restricted to oversight of the Secretary of State. They should be empowered to check up on anyone and everyone who is taking action under Part III, viz: policemen, GCHQ, MI5, MI6 and indeed any other agency who may be involved.

In order for the Commissioner to do their job they should automatically get copies of all Section 10 notices. There is no other provision for anyone to report the extent of activity which the Bill will engender.

The Commissioner should be obliged (in a similar provision to that in the Intelligence Services Act 1994) to report upon any party political aspects of actions taken under Part III of the Bill

Back to the analysis of part III

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