Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2004 (.pdf) Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood is also now available online.
This is similar to the report by Sir Swinton Thomas, the Interception Commissioner's annual report, in that it says even less about specific cases, has a secret annex to the report, and is also meant to be produced "as soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year" according to RIPA.
This report took even longer for the Prime Minister to make public , as it was submitted on 30th June but only published on the 3rd of November.
Lord Brown appears to have been asked by Sir John Gieve, the Sir Humphrey Appleby like Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to act as some sort of watchdog on the use by the intelligence services of proposed National Identity Register:
Identity Cards: oversight of the provision and use of information on the National Identity Register by the intelligence and security agencies.
32. Towards the end of 2004 I was formally approached by John Gieve, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, about whether I, in my capacity as the Intelligence Services Commissioner, would be prepared to provide an oversight regime of the proposed provision of information without consent from the National Identity Registerto the intelligence and security agencies in addition to my functions under RIPA. As the Intelligence Services Commissioner I already have close contact with the agencies and so there is considerable logic in my remit being widened to include oversight of the additional powers it is proposed to accord to the agencies. Therefore, having fully considered the proposal from the Home Office, I formally advised Mr. Gieve that I was content for an expansion of the Intelligence Services Commissioner's function to encompass this new responsibility on the understanding that any identified additional resource requirements to enable the Commissioner to perform this role effectively would be provided."
This is not an acceptable substitute for a truely independent National Identity Cards Scheme Commissioner, with proper investigative powers, and a budget and staff capable of dealing with complaints from the public. What is envisioned in the Identity Cards Bill is another "censored annual report type" Commisisoner, like the Intelligence Services Commisioner or the Interception Commissioner or the Surveillance Commisioner, established under RIPA.
With regards to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Part III Investigation of Electronic Data Protected by Encryption etc. which is still not yet in force:
Lord Brown says:
"However, the use of information security and encryption products by terrorist and criminal suspects is not. as I understand, as widespread as had been expected when RIPA was approved by Parliament in the year 2000. Equally the Government's investment in the National Technical Assistance Centre - a Home Office managed facility to undertake complex data processing - is enabling law enforcement agencies to understand, as far as necessary, protected electronic data."
Sounds familiar ? It should be, as exactly the same words were used by Sir Swinton Thomas, the Interception Commissioner, in his annual report for 2004 published on the same day. In fact the whole of paaragraph 7 seems to be identical in both reports.