Creating Human Rights principles for intelligence oversight

Research has continued on intelligence oversight with ongoing collaboration with the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office. This initiative comprised a number of workshops with key stakeholders from intelligence oversight communities, civil society organisations, legal professionals and academics. The aim was to assist with creating human rights principles for intelligence oversight. The initiative won the University of Essex’s Research Impact Award for Best UK Public Policy Impact last year. The annual awards are open to all academics, researchers and PhD students and last year 19 projects were short-listed in six categories.

In May the findings were published in the Israel Law Review and the paper, Bulk Surveillance in the Digital Age: Rethinking the Human Rights Law Approach to Bulk Monitoring of Communications Data, was also selected by Cambridge University Press as a research highlight across its publications to celebrate Human Rights Day 2019. The paper examines bulk communications data surveillance through the lens of human rights law, undertaking critical examination of both the potential utility of bulk communications surveillance and – drawing on social science analysis – the potential human rights-related harm. The report argues that utility and harm calculations can conceal the complex nature of contemporary digital surveillance practices, rendering current approaches to the ‘necessity’ test problematic.