Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021
The ONS can say what it likes, and the staff may well believe what they say, but the security and intelligence services may well decide that the information should be taken (not volunteered) for their own purposes.
The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021 potentially gives the security and intelligence services broad cover to commit illegal acts:
(a)in the interests of national security;
(b)for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder; or
(c)in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom.
And, it is not just the security and intelligence services - the list of agencies that can apply for Criminal Conduct Authorisation are:
Any police force
The National Crime Agency
The Serious Fraud Office
Any of the intelligence services
Any of Her Majesty's Forces
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
The Department of Health and Social Care
The Home Office
The Ministry of Justice
The Competition and Markets Authority
The Environment Agency
The Financial Conduct Authority
The Food Standards Agency
The Gambling Commission
In theory, this is all about running covert human sources in organisations under investigation, such that the source cannot be found simply by their refusal to commit a criminal act; however should the security and intelligence services decide that it is necessary and proportionate to run a covert source within the ONS, then providing a clandestine copy of (selected) data could well be covered by a CCA.
It would be interesting to be told how many CCAs per year (or month) are issued by the above organisations, and what their durations are.