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Additional Oversight:

The Interception of Communications Commissioner

The Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy was appointed Interception of Communications Commissioner under Section 57 of RIPA by the Prime Minister on 11th April 2006. The Commissioner’s tenure will end on 31st December 2012 when he will have served two terms.. Further details about the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s work can be accessed here

In summary, Sir Paul has a remit to oversee

  • the Secretary of State’s role in issuing warrants for the interception of communications
  • the procedures adopted by those agencies involved in interception under warrant, to ensure they are compliant with RIPA.
  • the procedures adopted by any other organisations that assist those agencies in warranted interception.
  • the adequacy of arrangements made by the Secretary of State for the handling and protection of intercepted material.

With regards to Communications Data and the protection of encrypted material as per Chapter I parts II and III of RIPA (link to CD page on website) the Commissioner also has responsibility for overseeing

  • the work of all organisations involved in the acquisition of communications data
  • notices authorised by the Secretary of State ordering the decryption of data acquired by interception
  • the adequacy of arrangements made by the Secretary of State for the protection of communications data and encryption keys for intercepted material.


The Commissioner conducts his oversight through a series of Inspections (HYPERLINK INSPECTIONS TABLE HERE ) at the following warrant-issuing departments (WIDs) SIS, GCHQ, Security Service, Northern Ireland Office, Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI), Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Foreign Office, Serious and Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), Scottish Government, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command (Met CTC)


The Commissioner also meets with the relevant Secretaries Of State on an annual basis in addition to making visits to Communications Service Providers who support Agencies and Public Authorities in lawful interception and communications data acquisition


The Commissioner is also sent details of breaches of the legislation or codes of practice, which he includes in his Annual Report to the Prime Minister

The Annual Report documents his assessment of the performance of the Warrant-Issuing Departments over the previous year. The Prime Minister lays the Commissioner’s report before both Houses of Parliament each year.