Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2007 (.pdf 9 pages) by Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, submitted to the Prime Minister on 27th June 2008, published on 22nd July 2008.
This is always the least informative of the three RIPA Commissioners' Annual reports, with the bulk of the short report being taken up by a re-statement of the duties of the Commissioner under the legislation.
There are no statistics published in the public section of the report whatsoever, not even aggregated statistics, which the other two RIPA Commissioners publish without compromising either technical methods, or covert sources or alluding to any ongoing investigations whatsoever.
Statistics 35. Consistent with the practice followed since annual reporting by the respective statutory Commissioners began, I do not propose to disclose publicly the numbers of warrants or authorisations issued to the security and intelligence agencies. That is because it would, I believe, assist those unfriendly to the UK were they able to know the extent of the work of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ in fulfilling their functions. The figures are, however, of interest and I have included them in the confidential annex to this report.
This practice has never been acceptable.
There is no evidence from either the other RIPA Commissioners, who do publish some aggregate statistics about warrants, or from other countries intelligence agency oversight bodies, which shows that such figures would assist "those unfriendly to the UK".
There is just one small nugget of information, which has, somehow slipped through, regarding the seizure of De-cryption Keys or of plaintext versions of encrypted electronic data:
Part III of RIPA
34. As I have noted above, Part III of RIPA came into force on 1 October 2007. However, no notification of any directions to require disclosure in respect of protected electronic information has been given to me in 2007 and there has been no exercise or performance of powers and duties under Part III for me to review.
Presumably this only covers the period from 1st October to the end of December 2007.
Does this show that the RIPA Part III powers are actually unnecessary for the three intelligence agencies, and that, given their horror of having to deal with the public directly, they are leaving RIPA section 49 notices to the Police ?
41. Thirteen errors in respect of RIPA authorisations and ISA warrants and one breach in the handling arrangements of one of the agencies were reported to me during the period of this report. In addition one intelligence agency reported to me a breach of the Terrorism Act 2000. It is not possible for me to say much about these errors without revealing information of a sensitive nature, but I have referred to them in more detail in the Confidential Annex. However, I can report that the majority of the thirteen errors occurred in respect of surveillance and interference with property for which there was for a comparatively short time no valid authorisation or warrant in force. Although any such breach is to be regretted, I think it right to say that all the breaches can properly be categorised as minor. None of the cases involved bad faith or any deliberate departure from established practices. In all cases, following the discovery of the errors, the agencies' internal procedures have been reviewed and strengthened with a view to preventing a future recurrence
The other RIPA Commissioners break down the admitted errors by each of the intelligence agencies, something which does not compromise national security in any way.
The Chief Surveillance Commissioner's report alludes to electronic bugging devices which have not been retrieved before the intrusive property interference warrant has expired, are the majority of these 13 cases of that nature ?
By not naming the individual agencies, even to vaguely list, without any operational details, the most minor of errors, the Intelligence Services Commissioner the Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, is giving the impression of having "gone native" and is not seen to be doing a proper job of public scrutiny, even if, presumably, he is actually doing his job conscientiously.