The BIS is authorized to use three principal techniques for gathering intelligence: intelligence technology, surveillance (one of the most efficient tools for information gathering), and cover means and documents.
Intelligence technology is a term covering electronic, photo-technical, chemical, physical-chemical, radio-technical, optical and mechanical means and devices that are used covertly, i.e. in cases when the Service infringes on the rights and freedoms of citizens, e.g.: tapping telephones, monitoring the internet activity of specific computers, making covert audio or video recordings in various environments, identifying and monitoring the movement of persons, tracing, opening and examining letters and parcels.
The use of intelligence technology is subject to approval by the Chairman of the Panel of Judges of the respective High Court and is limited to cases when it is ineffective, extraordinarily difficult, or completely impossible to gather necessary information by using a different method. The warrant is valid for a maximum of three months and is issued on the basis of a written request including the following: the reasons for the use of intelligence technology; the kind of intelligence technology to be used, the period of time for which it is to be used; the place of use of the intelligence technology; and basic identification data on the target.
Surveillance is one of the most effective means to gather information. However, in democratic states surveillance can only be carried out in open spaces. Surveillance is approved by the Service Director or an appointed senior officer.
Surveillance is defined as the planned – mostly visual – observation of persons, places, objects and buildings focusing on monitoring the movement, behavior and actions of people. The surveillance of objects usually involves observing the movement of various parcels, e.g. weapons or drugs. As far as places and buildings are concerned, the goal is to assess the movements in the given place or in the vicinity of a given building, to monitor individuals in the surroundings and their behavior.
Surveillance is only one aspect of field work; nevertheless, it plays a central and key role in the functioning of an intelligence service. Surveillance operations are one of the most expensive intelligence activities. Usually, surveillance is the work of a well coordinated team following subjects of national security investigations by foot and by car and using various technical devices. The team relies on sophisticated radio communication systems for quick communication. Working as a surveillance officer is a demanding task - personal traits and characteristics play a key role in determining suitability for the role. The ability to work in a team, having discipline and precision, planning things well, and maintaining order are necessary traits. Furthermore, a surveillance officer has to be in good physical condition, have good eyesight, hearing, memory and judgment. Patience, the ability to concentrate and make fast decisions are further qualities a surveillance officer must have. Moreover, surveillance officers must be excellent drivers with the ability to use different special technical devices. Becoming a professional surveillance officer takes three to four years.
Cover means and cover documents
Cover means and documents serve to keep secret the identity of the BIS officer and his allegiance to the BIS and to conceal BIS interests and targets. The identification documents of the following individuals cannot be used as cover documents:
- President of the Republic
- Member of Parliament (Chamber of Deputies or Senate)
- Government Minister
- Member of the Supreme Audit Office
- Governor of the Czech National Bank
Furthermore, it is not possible to use the following documents:
- Service cards of a State Prosecutor or a Judge
- Diplomatic passports
- Identification documents of living persons