Which aspects can illustrate the role of media and civil society actors as intelligence overseers? How can these aspects be translated into concrete components and indicators of an Intelligence Oversight Index?
The German GUARDINT team that is responsible for the creation of an Intelligence Oversight Index (IOI) invited a group of journalists and civil society representatives to discuss these questions in an online workshop. Together with Lena Rohrbach from Amnesty International Germany, Lisa Dittmer from Reporters Without Borders, Elke Steven from Digitale Gesellschaft, Arne Semsrott from FragDenStaat and freelance journalists Monika Ermert, Marcel Fürstenau and Daniel Moßbrucker we discussed how journalistic reporting can be part of media scrutiny towards intelligence agencies and how resources and access conditions of journalists and the protection of their sources affect their oversight capacities. We also discussed how the impact of civil society organisations can be measured and how freedom of information rights affect civic oversight capacities. The practical experience of the workshop participants as well as their legal knowledge helped us to improve, complement or discard some indicators.
The IOI captures two modes of oversight: delegated oversight and civic oversight. By including civic oversight in our concept of intelligence oversight, we emphasise the role of media and civil society actors. It challenges the common narrative of citizens as mere exploited and surveilled data subjects and accentuate their agency to contest and shape the actions of intelligence agencies, as well as negotiates democratic values in datafied societies.