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IOCCO’s role:

Investigation of unintentional electronic interception: Monetary penalty notice

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) monetary penalty notice regulations (and therefore the Commissioner’s responsibilities under them) came into effect from 16 June 2011. Investigation of unintentional electronic interception not related to trying to put into effect an interception warrant now represents an additional power for the Interception of Communications Commissioner under the monetary penalty notice regime.

  • The Commissioner has published this guidance in accordance with The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Monetary Penalty Notices and Consents for Interceptions) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011 No.1340).
  • The regulations amended RIPA to create a civil sanction for certain kinds of unlawful interception of electronic communications, and placed on the Commissioner the responsibility to administer its provisions. They empower the Commissioner to issue monetary penalty notices to offenders and to enforce them in court.
  • The guidance provides information on the circumstances in which the Commissioner will consider it appropriate to issue a monetary penalty notice, how he will determine the amount of the penalty and the mechanism for handling complaints.

The sanction may be imposed by the Commissioner if he is satisfied that certain communications have been intercepted without lawful authority at any place in the UK. In addition, he will satisfy himself that the actions are not already covered by the existing criminal offence of intercepting without lawful authority, and that the unlawful interception did not occur whilst attempting to act in accordance with an interception warrant.

 How to Make a Complaint

In order for the Commissioner to investigate a complaint, the complainant should provide the following information to the email address below:

  • their name, date of birth and address (or in the case of a registered company the name of the complainant representing the company and the registered address of the company);
  • the name of the organisation or individual they are complaining about;
  • the telephone numbers, e-mail addresses or other telecommunications concerned;
  • details of the circumstances of the unintentional unlawful interception and when this is believed to have been carried out;
  • whether it is believed or can be shown that the unlawful interception has ceased or is continuing;
  • details of any damage caused to the complainant.

This should be sent to:
The Commissioner shall provide the complainant in return an acknowledgement and a case reference number.

The Commissioner may at any time invite the complainant to supply further information.

Alternative avenues for complaint:

Unlawful Interception

The intentional interception of communications without lawful authority is a criminal offence and therefore a matter for the police and prosecuting authorities.

Lawful Interception

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal exists to investigate and determine complaints from anyone who thinks they may have been subject to interception by public authorities under RIPA.