Former GCHQ chief offers six principles for online monitoring

The Demos think tank report into online monitoring and what should or should not be done is of particular interest as one of the co-authors is Sir David Omand, the man formerly in charge at GCHQ.

He and his co-authors offer up six principles for state monitoring of social media:

We believe any use of SOCMINT [social media intelligence] by the state – including the CCDP – should be based on the following six principles:

  • principle 1: there must be sufficient, sustainable cause
  • principle 2: there must be integrity of motive
  • principle 3: the methods used must be proportionate and necessary
  • principle 4: there must be right authority, validated by external oversight
  • principle 5: recourse to secret intelligence must be a last resort if more open sources can be used
  • principle 6: there must be reasonable prospect of success

That is a decent set of principles, though inevitably being top level are open to a huge range of interpretations. Is the current (deeply flawed and inadequate in my view) Interception of Communications Commissioner structure sufficient to meet the second half of principle 4 for example?

Even so, it is good that GCHQ people, even former people, are taking part in the public debate and acknowledging that there must be some external oversight along with a “proportionate and necessary” test.

One response to “Former GCHQ chief offers six principles for online monitoring”

  1. 1. 'Cause' is declared 'terrorism threat'.
    2. Motive is 'protection' of public from supposed threat.
    3. Anything is 'proportionate if you think there is a threat.
    4. 'Right' authority is gathering information for asseswsment, else how could public be protected if you didn't bother finding out whether there might be a threat.
    Also… 'external oversight' could be by person(s) with same motive.
    5. Why reveal what they don't know you have if you can use what they do!

    In short: The principles are utterly meaningless!

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