Frequently asked questions about the EOS Committee

What is the full name of the EOS Committee?

The Norwegian Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Security Services


What does the Committee oversee?

The main purpose of the Committee’s oversight is to ensure that the EOS services respect individuals’ right to privacy and the protection of the law. The Committee has an obligation to investigate whether people’s rights are being violated, to prevent people’s rights from being violated, to make sure that the EOS services do not use more intrusive measures than necessary, and to ensure that the services respect human rights.

The Committee is also responsible for ensuring that the services do not unduly harm the interests of society. Another obligation for the Committee is to ensure that the EOS services conduct their activities within the law, administrative or military directives, and non-statutory law.

Read more about the area of oversight here


Who does the EOS Committee oversee?

The task of the Committee is to oversee intelligence, surveillance and security service that is performed or controlled by public authorities whose purposes are to protect national security interests.

The area of oversight is not limited to specific organizational units. Therefore, it is irrelevant which bodies or agencies perform EOS service at any given time. Today, these tasks are mainly assigned to the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), The Police Security Service (PST), The National Security Authority (NSM) and the Norwegian Defence Security Department (FSA.)

Read more about the EOS services here


Who are the members of the Committee?

The Committee has seven members who are appointed by the Storting (The Norwegian Parliament) after a recommendation by The Presidium of the Storting.

Five of the members are elected to ensure that parties from the left, the centre, and to the right of the political spectrum are represented. The members do not pursue party politics in the Committee and cannot sit in the Storting at the same time. The last two members are elected on the basis of their professional backgrounds.

The Committee is chaired by Svein Grønnern (H). The other members are Deputy Chair Astri Aas-Hansen (Ap), Øyvind Vaksdal (Frp), Eldfrid Øfsti Øvstedal, Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa (Sp), Erling Johannes Husabø and Camilla Bakken Øvald (SV).

Being a member of the EOS Committee is a part-time position. For the chair, the position corresponds to approximately 30 percent of a full-time position, and, for the other members, it is approximately 20 percent of a full-time position.

The Committee is also supported by a secretariat of 15 people who work full-time.

Read more about the Committee and the secretariat here


Who appoints the members?

The Storting, in a plenary session, appoints the members after a recommendation by the Storting’s Presidium. Each member is elected for five years at a time, and for a maximum of ten years. Members of the Storting and persons who have previously worked for an EOS service cannot be elected as Committee members.


What is the origin of the EOS Committee?

The EOS Committee was established by the Storting in 1996 following a recommendation by the EOS Commission chaired by Arne Skauge. The background for the establishment was many years of great public attention and political debate about the activities of the secret services. The debate also led to the establishment of the Lund Commission. In its report from 1996, the Lund Commission concluded that there had been extensive illegal political surveillance by the Police Surveillance Service (POT) of persons and organizations belonging to the political left in Norway. This was especially the case in the 1960s and 1970s.

Read more about the Committee’s history here


Is the EOS Committee independent?

Yes, the Committee is appointed by, but works independently of, the Storting. The EOS Committee cannot be instructed by the government, the services or other public authorities. However, The Storting, in a plenary session, can order the Committee to “undertake specified investigations within the oversight mandate of the Committee in compliance with the rules and framework which otherwise govern the Committee’s activities.” (cf The Oversight Act, Section 1). Until now, this has not happened.

The EOS Committee is also not a part of, nor does it collaborate with, PST, the Norwegian Intelligence Service or any of the other EOS services.


How can I contact the Committee?

You can call or send an e-mail or a letter.

Click here for our contact information.


Are the Committee’s reports to the Stortinget secret?

No, both the annual reports and the special reports are unclassified and available to the public (cf The Oversight Act, section 17).


How does the Committee oversee the services?

The Committee inspects the services regularly and investigates both cases raised on its own initiative and complaints cases.

The oversight is conducted by both written and oral questions, as well as through direct searches in the services’ systems.

Read more about the area of oversight here


What information does the Committee have access to?

In accordance with The Oversight Act, Section 8, the Committee may demand access to the administration’s archives and registers, premises, installations and facilities of all kinds. The Committee’s right of inspection and access also applies to enterprises that assist in the performance of intelligence, surveillance, and security services.

The only exception to the access of information is «particularly sensitive information» in the Norwegian Intelligence Service. The Storting, in plenary, has adopted this restriction.

The Committee shall not seek more extensive access to classified information than warranted by its oversight purposes. Insofar as is possible, the Committee must show consideration for the protection of sources and the safeguarding of information received from abroad.


May the EOS Committee conduct interrogations and investigations?

All persons summoned to appear before the Committee are obliged to do so. And all persons who are or have been employed by the administration are obliged to give evidence to the Committee concerning all matters experienced in the course of their duties (cf the Oversight Act, Section 9).

In addition, The Committee may apply for a judicial recording of evidence for the courts. It is also permitted to use expert assistance in oversight activities where it is deemed appropriate. However, the EOS Committee has no role in investigating cases that could lead to a conviction in a court of law.


What does the Committee not oversee?

The Committee does not oversee the finances of the services or how efficiently the services are managed, nor the legality of the activities that are not a part of their function as an intelligence, surveillance or security service. The higher prosecuting authorities are exempt from the Committee’s oversight.

The Committee also has no access to and cannot demand an explanation for most of the activities that concern ministers, the ministries and their officials and civil servants.

The oversight responsibility does not include persons who are not resident in Norway and organizations that are based in other countries. Foreigners who reside in Norway and who work for a foreign state are also exempt from the oversight. The Committee may nevertheless exercise oversight in such cases when there are special reasons to do so. It is the Committee itself that decides whether there are special reasons.

Security clearance decisions made by the Storting’s administration and / or presidium is not within the area of the Committee’s oversight.


Does the EOS Committee give advice to the services?

No. The Committee only does subsequent oversight. The Committee cannot instruct the services or be used by them for consultations. The Committee may nevertheless demand access to information about ongoing cases and make comments on these cases.


On what grounds can the Committee criticise the services?

In order for the Committee to criticise the services, a case must concern one or more points in the EOS Committee’s ‘purpose’ clause in the Oversight Act.

“the purpose of the oversight is:

1. to ascertain whether the rights of any person are violated and to prevent such violations, and to ensure that the means of intervention employed do not exceed those required under the circumstances, and that the services respect human rights,

2. to ensure that the activities do not unduly harm the interests of society, and

3. to ensure that the activities are kept within the framework of statute law, administrative or military directives and non-statutory law.


What regulations are relevant for the Committee?

The EOS Committee has its own act – The Act Relating to Oversight of Intelligence, Surveillance and Security Services (The Oversight Act) – which regulates its activities. The Committee otherwise complies with other laws and regulations that regulate the services overseen.

Read more about different regulations here.


Who can lodge a complaint with the Committee?

Individuals and organisations that believe that the EOS services have committed an injustice can lodge a complaint with the Committee. The Committee processes all complaints that fall within the oversight area – intelligence, surveillance and security services.

The oversight responsibility does not include activities that concern persons who are not resident in Norway, organisations that are not based in Norway or activities that concern foreigners whose stay in Norway is linked to service for a foreign state. The Committee may nevertheless exercise oversight in such cases if there are any special reasons to do so. It is the Committee itself that decides whether there are special reasons.

If your complaint concerns a reduced or denied security clearance, you can complain to the EOS Committee after you have used your options for appeal in the administration.

You can, however, complain about lengthy processing times in clearance cases before the cases have been decided on in the administration.

Security clearance decisions made by the Storting’s administration and / or presidium is not within the area of the Committee’s oversight.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


Who can I lodge a complaint against?

In addition to the EOS services, the Police Security Service, the Norwegian Intelligence Service, the National Security Authority and the Norwegian Defence Security Department, you can also complain about other bodies that perform or assist in intelligence, surveillance or security service.

The activities of the ordinary police, however, are not within the EOS committee’s oversight area.

Security clearance decisions made by the Storting’s administration and / or presidium is not within the area of the Committee’s oversight.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


How do I lodge a complaint?

You can contact the EOS Committee by e-mail, phone or regular mail. Click here to see our contact information.

Sensitive or confidential information should not be sent by e-mail.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


What should be included in a complaint?

Your full name, date of birth, postal address and residential address (as registered in the National Population Register) should be included in a complaint. In addition, a description of the situation you want to complain about must be supplied. Confidential or sensitive information should not be sent by e-mail.

The activities of the ordinary police, however, are not within the EOS committee’s oversight area.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


Can I lodge a complaint via e-mail?

Yes, but confidential or sensitive information should not be sent by e-mail.

The activities of the ordinary police, however, are not within the EOS committee’s oversight area.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


How does the Committee investigate complaints?

Once the Committee has accepted a complaint, the Committee investigates the case in the service(s) concerned. This is done in writing and by searches in archives, registers and computer systems.

Complaints to the Committee are treated confidentially, but when a complaint is investigated, the service in question is made aware of the complaint. The Committee has a strict duty of confidentiality.

The activities of the ordinary police, however, are not within the EOS committee’s oversight area.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


How long does the processing of a complaint normally take?

When a complaint is received, the secretariat will normally give the complainant a preliminary answer within three weeks.

The processing time for a complaint can vary. Normally, you will be notified within four months as to whether the Committee has criticised a service or not. Some cases may take longer.

The activities of the ordinary police, however, are not within the EOS committee’s oversight area.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


Can I lodge a complaint anonymously?

No. We need to know that the complainant in question really is the one who actually lodged the complaint. Complaints to the Committee are treated confidentially, but when a complaint is taken up for investigation, the service in question is made aware of it.

There is, however, an opening for whistle-blowers to send information to the Committee. In such cases, the Committee strives for anonymity. However, in contrast to complaint cases, whistle-blowers will not get any more information about whether the case is being investigated and/or whether the case results in criticismor not. Information can only be obtained from the Committee’s public reports to the Storting.

The activities of the ordinary police, however, are not within the EOS committee’s oversight area.

Read more about the complaints and whistle-blower procedure here


Can I complain on behalf of others?

Individuals and organisations can only complain on behalf of themselves, but the Committee does accept complaints by proxy via, for example, a lawyer.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


Does it cost anything to lodge a complaint?

No, it is free of charge.


Can I lodge a complaint about how laws and regulations are designed?

No. However, should the Committee be made aware of certain regulations that affect the intelligence or security’s services that may need to be looked into, the Committee may take up an investigation on its own initiative, but not as part of an individual complaint case.

The Storting is responsible for legislation, but the Committee has previously pointed out shortcomings in regulations to the Storting.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


Can I find out if I have been under surveillance?

No. Whether a person is known to the services or not is in itself a classified piece of information. If you have been subjected to illegal surveillance or other violations of your rights, the service will be criticised and asked to rectify the illegalities. You will also be notified if criticism has been levelled at the service. In some cases, more comprehensive information can be provided.


What happens if a complaint ends with criticism of a service?

The Committee will send a letter to the service in which the criticism is outlined, what the background for the criticism is, and a request to rectify the situation. The case will also be presented in an unclassified and anonymised form in the Committee’s annual report, which is submitted to the Storting every spring.

Read more about the complaints procedure here


Can the Committee stop surveillance, delete a registration or reverse a denial of security clearance following a complaint?

The Committee has no power to issue binding decisions, but can criticise and make recommendations about, for example, changing practice, deleting a registration or re-assessing a clearance case. The Storting’s expectation is also that the EOS Committee’s recommendations should be followed by the services. If this does not happen, the Committee will inform the Storting through its reports.


Does the Committee have any options to impose penalties or sanctions?

The Committee itself has no authority to impose penalties or sanctions, but, according to the Oversight Act, Section 21, the Committee has the ability to report persons who violate certain parts of the Act to the police. This applies, for example, to the Committee’s right of access to information and the duty that people who work or have worked in a service have to explain themselves to the Committee about anything they have experienced in the service.

In the event of intentional or gross negligence, persons may be punished by fines or imprisonment for up to 1 year.


What can I do if my security clearance has been denied or revoked?

You may in the first instance complain to the clearance authority that processed your security clearance request. The case will be re-evaluated by the clearance authority and by the appeal body (which will most often be NSM). If your complaint is then rejected, you can complain to the EOS Committee.

Security clearance decisions made by the Storting’s administration and / or presidium is not within the area of the Committee’s oversight.


Can the Committee give me access to information about my clearance case?

If you have not been given access to everything you want to see after your right of appeal in the administration has been exhausted, you can lodge a complaint with the EOS Committee. If the Committee agrees that you should have had access to more information, the Committee can criticise the administration and recommend that you should be given access. 


I have been waiting a very long time for an answer to my clearance case – can you do something?

If you think the case processing time is too long, you can lodge a complaint about it with the EOS Committee. If the EOS Committee concludes that there has been an unfairly long case processing time, the Committee may criticise the clearance authority.

Before you lodge a complaint with the Committee about a long processing time or lack of response, it is important that you send a written reminder to the clearance authority. If you are going to lodge a complaint with the Committee, we ask you to attach a copy of the written reminder.

The Committee has in its latest annual reports published the average case processing time for the largest clearance authorities.


I work for an EOS service and want to send you information as a whistle-blower – is that possible?

Yes. Persons who are employed in services or enterprises that are under the EOS Committee’s oversight area must be free to notify the EOS Committee of any internal matters that may be worthy of criticism, without the duty of confidentiality hindering them.

In the annual report to the Storting for 2018, the Committee also argued that the Storting should consider that protection of whistle-blowers be included in the Oversight Act and possibly also in the regulations of the respective EOS services.

Read more about the Committee’s whistle-blower policy here


What can I notify the EOS Committee about as a whistle-blower?

You can notify the EOS Committee about everything that you think the Committee should know about in its oversight of the services.

This is our mandate

1. to ascertain whether the rights of any person are violated and to prevent such violations, and to ensure that the means of intervention employed do not exceed those required under the circumstances, and that the services respect human rights.

2. to ensure that the activities do not unduly harm the interests of society.

3. to ensure that the activities are kept within the framework of statute law, administrative or military directives, and non-statutory law.

An example of what you can send us information about is illegal surveillance performed by an EOS service.

Examples of things that are outside the EOS Committee’s mandate to investigate would be a manager who harasses an employee in a service or an employee who has committed embezzlement.

Read more about the Committee’s whistle-blower policy here and the area of oversight here


Will I remain anonymous if I become a whistle-blower?

If you wish to be an anonymous whistle-blower, we will do everything we can to protect your identity. In the event of a whistle-blower case, we will assess whether and how the information from the whistle-blower can be used by the Committee without the whistle-blowers’s identity being revealed. The Committee can take up cases on its own initiative, without having to state the background for the investigations to the services.

Although we guarantee that we will not disclose the name of a whistle-blower, there may be a risk that the whistle-blower could be identified as the source if the Committee initiates an investigation.

Read more about the Committee’s whistle-blower policy here


Will I get to know anything about the outcome of the information I sent as a whistle-blower?

Unless the information you sent is the basis for a case that the Committee writes about in an annual report or a special report, the Committee is not allowed to give you any information.

Read more about the Committee’s whistle-blower policy here


Does the EOS Committee cooperate with oversight bodies in other countries?

Yes, in recent years the EOS Committee has collaborated with oversight bodies in several countries, for example in Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Committee has exchanged information about practices and methods, but it does not have the opportunity to exchange any classified information.


What does the EOS Committee think about new proposed surveillance measures?

It is not the EOS Committee, but the Storting that decides on any introduction of proposed surveillance measures.


Does the EOS Committee have a duty of confidentiality?

Yes, the Committee and the secretariat have a duty of confidentiality.

Committee members and employees of the secretariat can also be punished with fines or imprisonment according to the Oversight Act, Section 21 if they violate the duty of confidentiality.


How do I contact the services?

You can find links to the contact information for the services overseen by the EOS Committee here.

(To contact the Norwegian Defence’s security department, you must contact the Norwegian Armed Forces’ switchboard on 915 03 003)


Can I find the EOS Committee on social media?

Yes. You can follow the EOS Committee on Twitte.


Who oversees the EOS Committee?

The EOS Committee is appointed by the Storting but performs its duties completely independently of the Storting. The Storting may nevertheless order the Committee to carry out other specific investigations within the Committee’s control mandate. This has not happened to date.

In 2016, the EOS Committee was evaluated by a committee led by Bjørn Solbakken, the judge of Borgarting, Court of Appeal.

Read the evaluation report here (in Norwegian only):

The Committee’s activities are also subject to the Office of the Auditor General’s control.