Forms of oversight

The Intelligence Ombudsman performs advance, real-time and retrospective supervision of the legality of the use of intelligence gathering methods. Advance oversight of legality may consist of general legal advice to the intelligence authorities' internal overseers of legality, operative lawyers and intelligence directors. However, the Ombudsman must refrain from giving too extensive legal advice to the intelligence authorities in order not to compromise its credibility when assessing the legality of their operations in retrospect. The Ombudsman's legal assessments are always based on information available at the time of assessment, and the Ombudsman is not bound to its prior opinions should new information come to light. Participation in the training and other competence development of public officials charged with the application of the intelligence legislation can also be thought of as advance oversight.

The Office of the Intelligence Ombudsman checks the decisions of the intelligence authorities on the use of intelligence gathering methods and the covering of intelligence. This real-time oversight of legality is supported by the intelligence authorities' obligation to inform the Intelligence Ombudsman of decisions on intelligence gathering methods without delay. The Office of the Intelligence Ombudsman also sends participants to the Helsinki District Court's sessions concerning intelligence gathering methods. 

Inspecting the records drawn up on the use of intelligence gathering methods is part of the Intelligence Ombudsman's retrospective oversight of the legality of intelligence activities. One theme of such retrospective oversight is the supervision of the checking, storage, archiving and further use of material obtained through intelligence gathering. The Intelligence Ombudsman cooperates with the Data Protection Ombudsman in the supervision of the use of intelligence.