The powers and responsibilities of the Security Information Service are clearly defined by Act No. 153/1994 Coll., on the Intelligence Services of the Czech Republic. Therefore, the Service is authorized to collect, gather, analyze and evaluate intelligence only in areas specified by this Act. The role of the Service is to identify threats, issue early warnings and take steps eliminating the threats. In this respect its work differs from that of the police, who do not intervene before a criminal offense is committed. Furthermore, the BIS does not aim to gather evidence enabling arrests and leading to criminal prosecutions.
The Act on the Intelligence Services of the Czech Republic stipulates that the Government and the President of the Czech Republic have the right to task the Service within the scope of the Service´s powers and responsibilities. The President of the Czech Republic is entitled to task the BIS with the knowledge of the Government. Furthermore, the Act stipulates that the Service submits a report on its activity to the President of the Czech Republic and to the Government annually or whenever requested.
The President of the Czech Republic, the Prime Minister and relevant cabinet members also receive Service reports on extremely urgent findings. Furthermore, the Service provides findings to state and police authorities, provided such information falls within their powers and responsibilities and sharing this information does not jeopardize a major interest pursued by the Service. Undertaking specific measures in reaction to the provided information is solely under the remit of addresses with executive powers.
The BIS is an intelligence service without executive powers. It cannot detain, arrest, or interrogate. Furthermore, the BIS cannot give orders or force anyone to take any actions. If the Service approaches a citizen with a request, it is entirely up to the citizen whether s/he will grant its request or not. In order to fulfill its mission, the BIS has to work covertly, but always in strict compliance with the law. When gathering information, the BIS is authorized to use three principal techniques for gathering intelligence and to co-operate with person acting in its favor (agents). A number of findings are acquired from open sources. The BIS is also in contact with the police and co-operates closely with domestic and foreign partner organizations. The BIS does not shut itself off from the public, and looks for ways of communicating with citizens.
The principal techniques for gathering intelligence are:
- Intelligence technology
- Cover means and documents
The use of intelligence technology is subject to approval by the Chairman of the Panel of Judges of the respective High Court. Surveillance is approved by the Service Director or an appointed senior officer.
Agents (persons acting on behalf of the Service) must be 18 years old, or above, to become covert human intelligence sources. Every citizen can offer his/her services to the BIS, but in most cases the Service chooses the agents itself. The BIS uses agents for gathering information solely in areas specified by law as lying within its powers and responsibilities. The BIS has the legal duty to protect its agents from exposure, injury to their honor, life or property which might arise from the provision of their services or in connection with it.
Open sources include e.g. the daily and periodical press, radio and television broadcasts, the Internet, various publications, books etc. Various lectures, symposia, conferences and any other events at which information is provided or exchanged and which take place in public, freely accessible premises are regarded as open sources, too.
Cooperation within the Czech Republic
The BIS cooperates with the following Czech intelligence services: the Office for Foreign Relations and Information (in Czech: Úřad pro zahraniční styky a informace - foreign intelligence service of the Czech Republic falling under the Ministry of the Interior) and Military Intelligence (in Czech: Vojenské zpravodajství falling under the Ministry of Defense). The law also allows the Service to co-operate with the police on the basis of agreements concluded with relevant police bodies.
Co-operation with foreign partner intelligence services is irreplaceable and of key value for the BIS. It is of essential importance to fulfilling the Service’s objective to protect the Czech Republic against global threats not confined to states and continents. Currently, the BIS maintains contacts with more than a 100 intelligence services of 65 countries. Every year, the BIS exchanges several thousand reports with its partners and holds hundreds of personal meetings with their representatives.
Communication with the public
This website is one means of communicating with the public. The BIS aims to answer all questions from the press (though sometimes the answers have to be only general). The Service also communicates with citizens through its public annual reports. The purpose and goal of this communication is to provide the public with a truthful portrayal of the Service and convince the public that its main goal is to protect the citizens of the Czech Republic and act in their interest. In many cases the BIS cannot do so without public support. Needless to say, it will be the more successful, the more citizens it has on its side. The Security Information Service can be reached at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.