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IOCCO’s role:

Communications data inspections

The Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) is charged with undertaking communications data inspections on behalf of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Anthony May.

IOCCO undertake a revolving programme of inspection visits to all relevant public authorities who are authorised to acquire communications data under Part I Chapter II of RIPA and produce a written report of the findings for the Interception of Communications Commissioner.

RIPA provides a single regulatory regime for public authorities to acquire communications data compliant with human rights legislation. Any access to communications data by public authorities is an intrusion into someone’s privacy. To be justified, such intrusion must satisfy the principles of necessity and proportionality derived from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and embedded in RIPA. It is therefore vital that the correct procedures and rules are followed. If the procedures are not complied with, then any intrusion into a person’s privacy may be unlawful by virtue of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998 and a possible action, through the courts (UK or European Court of Human Rights), could be brought by a member of the public.


Additionally anyone who thinks their data has been wrongly acquired has the right to complain to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.


The primary objectives of inspections are to ensure that: 

  • the systems in place for acquiring communications data are sufficient for the purposes of the Act and that all relevant records have been kept;
  • all acquisition of communications data has been carried out lawfully and in accordance with Part I Chapter II and its associated Code of Practice;
  • the data acquired was necessary and proportionate to the conduct authorised;
  • errors are being ‘reported’ or ‘recorded’ and that the systems are reviewed and adapted in the light of any exposed weaknesses or faults.
  • persons engaged in the acquisition of data are adequately trained and are aware of the relevant parts of the legislation.

 The findings of these inspections are outlined in Section 4 of the Commissioner’s Annual Report