Research

Oversight and intelligence networks:
Who guards the guardians?

GUARDINT builds empirical and conceptual tools to shed light on the limitations and potential of oversight mechanisms. It theorizes intelligence oversight through an International Political Sociology (IPS) approach to understand the concrete practices and the formal and informal roles of oversight. Using the IPS approach, the project examines intelligence oversight in a threefold way: as a democratic mechanism, as socio-technical networks, and as an emerging transnational practice. Second, it compares the efficiency and legitimacy of oversight bodies in different European countries. Third, it examines the possibilities and challenges for oversight bodies to operate at a transnational scale. By doing so, the project will generate tools and platforms to promote transnational collaboration. Overall, GUARDINT seeks to revitalise our democratic imaginary and to reinforce transnational connections by proposing creative solutions for effective democratic control of transnational intelligence cooperation within and beyond the EU.

Deliverables

Intelligence Oversight Index (IOI)

Stiftung Neue Veranwortung (SNV) and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) contribute to GUARDINT by developing a “Intelligence Oversight Index” (IOI) in order to scrutinise the oversight practices of different stakeholders, across countries and over time.
 
The objectives of the IOI are twofold. First, the index seeks to indicate the quality of oversight of surveillance by intelligence services within the respective countries, as well as from a transnational perspective.
Second, the IOI renders aspects of each country’s respective oversight practices comparable. In addition to indices such as those for freedom, democracy or corruption, an intelligence oversight index will become an important device or strengthening democratic practices. We hope to establish a common point of reference for a growing range of stakeholders with an interest in intelligence oversight and initiate transnational exchange among oversight professionals.

Research design and output

The research team will develop the methodology for the Intelligence Oversight Index and will conduct a pilot study comparing France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The indicators and components of the index will be selected in consultation with oversight practitioners and experts from civil society organisations and academia in order to guarantee the practical and theoretical relevance for all stakeholders. The index will be accompanied by an open source legal database of surveillance law, relevant case law, and official oversight reports from the three countries. An academic advisory board as well as a stakeholder advisory board will consult the project team throughout the entire development process of the IOI. The methods used for data collection include expert interviews and analyses of legal frameworks, news coverage, official reports, and documentation of lawsuits.

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