back to article Whistleblowers have come to us alleging spy agency wrongdoing, says UK auditor IPCO

Three UK law enforcement agents blew the whistle about unlawful state surveillance to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s office – and one of those incidents was bad enough for the investigation to still be ongoing today. The investigation’s existence was revealed in audit body IPCO’s annual report for 2018-19, published ( …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "tended to use “templated or generic” reasons"

    On the basis of our two years worth of research (shortly to be published with any luck), almost the entirety of data protection compliance is conducted using templated or generic statements. Come to think of it, most corporate "compliance" is too. The basic argument seems to be "what's the least effort we need to expend to keep the regulator off our backs?". The actual intended purpose of compliance requirements doesn't seem to feature at all in decision making.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "tended to use “templated or generic” reasons"

      Being self authorising why would anyone expect anything different?

      Authorisation should go through a magistrate from a different police region/s.

    2. Krassi

      Re: "tended to use “templated or generic” reasons"

      see also timesheets and travel authorisations etc.

      Once the applicant has found a form of words that works, there is every incentive to use the "right answer" next time. The approver probably has many similar admin tasks, and may see their role as checking the form or process, not the truth or "proportionality" of the underlying facts behind it. That the form exists proves the applicant has thought about the matter , therefore due process has been done, therefore tick.

      This research finding won't surprise anyone who has worked in a large organisation, I suspect. But good to have a study to conclusively prove it.

      1. The Mole

        Re: "tended to use “templated or generic” reasons"

        To be fair with timesheets and travel authorizations being mostly a 'write only' process is probably sufficient as it provides a paper trail and lets the submitted know there is a risk of being caught which is normally all that is sufficient to keep moral behaviour. It also means that if someone is caught there previous forms can be checked. After all what is the value to the business of someone fine combing every application - they are likely to be wasting far more time and expense (or worse still people avoiding doing something to invoke the process) than they protect.

        Government and the publics legal rights however shouldn't be tracked on a basis of ROI as liberty is not something you can easily put a price on.

  2. The Basis of everything is...

    This surely didn't come as a surprise?

  3. DavCrav

    "In addition, an MI6 spy “engaged in serious crime overseas” which senior managers tried to cover up"

    I mean, most countries consider spying on them to be a serious crime. So surely MI6 engages in serious crime all the time, as do all spy agencies? And they tend to cover them up as well. Unless they mean crimes other than those related to the job.

    1. The Mole

      My impression is that spying is seen as a game and not something serious (except when politically useful, or when they win) after all we all know everyone is up to it and frequently know who the spies are but let them stay in play (better the spy you know).

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Maybe someone needs to tell that to Persia.

    2. NonSSL-Login

      Spineless oversight

      Probably not as serious as driving on the wrong side road and causing an accident that kills someone and then scurrying them back home from abroad.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Whoda thunk it...

    Foxes guarding the hen house springs to mind.

    Almost as unsurprising as the IPCC ever ruling for Police misconduct.

  5. fidodogbreath Silver badge


    Not shocked, Sherlock.

  6. codejunky Silver badge


    People fear facebook and such. At least you choose to volunteer your information to them. Spying by definition is very opaque and needs strong oversight.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Data Leak Russia.... It's going on EVERYWHERE!


  8. HAL-9000
    Big Brother

    We have this covered

    Obvs a dry run for next year when deregulation on steroids commences, I can't wait for January, honestly (\S)

  9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Intelligence Services Act 1994

    Authorisation of certain actions

  10. Christoph

    an MI6 spy “engaged in serious crime overseas”

    No longer a problem, they are passing laws that let them authorise their crimes.

  11. Peter Galbavy

    How long until these shady organisations self-authorise themselves to surveil the ICPOs wistleblower gateway systems?

  12. sitta_europea

    Report page 153, Annex C, "Serious Errors", investigation 4:

    "For this particular IP, the last octet could be any number between 0 – 265. The TO had changed each of the 265 endings all to a zero."

    Maybe not a serious error in the serious error, but perhaps indicative that whoever wrote this had no clue.

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