UK Government Proposes Creation of its own Privacy and Civil Liberties (Oversight) Board

The U.K. government announced this week its intention to replace the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation with a new Independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. The office of the Independent Reviewer, which has evolved over a period of 35 years, is tasked with reviewing the country’s anti-terrorism legislation. According to the government proposals, the Independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board – inspired by the American PCLOB – will have similar objectives, but with a somewhat broader mandate than the current Independent Reviewer. While noting the advantages of a committee-based review process, the current Independent Reviewer, David Anderson QC, warns of the possible challenges. Anderson notes that for the effectiveness of the review process to be maintained, all members of the Board will need to be afforded the same unrestricted access to secret government documents that the Independent Reviewer is given. Anderson has also previously written that:

[T]he division and delegation of work could lead to a diminution in the range and focus displayed by previous Reviewers; the strong personal relationships on which successful tenure of the post depends would be difficult for a panel to maintain; strong candidates for the current role might be less attracted by the idea of sitting on a committee; and reports might reveal differences or, worse, become the bland products of compromise.

The government intends to introduce legislation to implement its proposals during the current parliamentary session. Watch this space for further coverage. 

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Ruchi Parekh

Former Associate Editor at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@RParekh88).