IPCO collaboration with the University of Essex By Legal & Policy Team

Published on 30 May 2018

At IPCO we are committed to being as open and transparent as we can be and demystifying as much of the work we do as possible. The Commissioner is passionate about the need for greater and continued public engagement. So it has been great working with the University of Essex on our first collaboration.

We have been working with them on their ‘Human Rights in an Era of Big Data and ICT’ project which is being coordinated jointly by Essex and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. We’ve been collaborating on a series of workshops on some issues key to the debate around Big Data and ICT.

The first workshop, on 14 March, came hot on the heels of publication of an IPCO advisory notice on the approach to be taken by the JCs in reviewing decisions of a Secretary of State. The workshop focused on how the Judicial Commissioners will review applications for warrants for use of investigatory powers. While of course some of those in attendance didn’t agree with everything IPCO put forward (and there wouldn’t be much point in doing engagement if they did!), we were taken aback by the warm welcome for the publication and civil society’s support for our efforts towards greater transparency. Much credit is due to our legal team and Standing Counsel for their work on this.

At our second workshop in April we brought together representatives of civil society and human rights organisations to think about how necessity and proportionality are understood and how IPCO should conduct its necessity and proportionality assessments when the Judicial Commissioners review decisions made by a Secretary of State. Discussion was lively and insightful! It generated some interesting arguments around Investigatory Powers Act and gave us all food for thought.

We are working with Essex on two more workshops to look at the role of Intelligence Agencies and what a human rights based-approach to oversight would look like. We are looking forward to both and to further public-facing engagements like these.

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