Intelligence watchdogs gather in The Hague

Published on 19 December 2019

Last week the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, Sir Brian Leveson, joined his European counterparts for the annual European Intelligence Oversight Conference.

Organised this year by CTIVD, the Dutch intelligence oversight body, the conference is dedicated to strengthening the oversight of intelligence cooperation between European Partners. 18 oversight bodies from 16 countries were represented. This year, participants focused on the need for oversight bodies not only to intensify cooperation but also to adjust and innovate to keep up with the advancement of technology.

Sir Brian Leveson, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, said:

“Inevitably there are some limitations to international cooperation, due to national security requirements and a reasonable caution from the organisations we oversee. Still, we should try hard to enhance our cooperation and share best practice where possible.

“I welcome the opportunity to share our experiences with our international partners, for it is in our common ground that we can learn the most from each other.”

Nico van Eijk, chair of the CTIVD, said:

“In my view our discussions can only go in one direction: forward.

“We have passed the point of no return and moving forward is not a choice but a given fact, hence the title of the conference: ‘strengthening oversight of international intelligence cooperation’.”

The Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) is committed to working with its partner organisations overseas to develop best practice and establish common oversight standards. Like the European Oversight Conference, IPCO has worked closely with its foreign partners through its role as the host of the 2019 Five Eyes oversight conference and through its work supporting the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to privacy.

CTIVD, the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Service, hosted the 2019 conference, which is held by a different European oversight organisation each year. Since 2002, CTIVD have been the oversight department responsible for reviewing the lawfulness of tasks performed by the Dutch intelligence community.

The European participants intend to develop a set of principles for oversight, to be agreed at the 2020 conference.

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