Yearly Archives: 2012

Kelly Fiveash reviews Government identity and database policies in 2012 in The Register: Earlier this year your correspondent was standing tantalisingly close to Matt Smith in the ACTUAL TARDIS – long story, not gonna Facebook it, never gonna tweet it. However, many Brits are happy to noisily ricochet chunks of their private lives across any number of websites and systems, in a year in which the British government has pushed for sweeping online surveillance powers. The end result of our government’s desire to catch these flying bits and bytes of our lives could be more internet-bothering laws. Perhaps the defining moment of this year’s campaign was Home Secretary Theresa May’s resurrection of NuLabour’s shelved Interception Modernisation Programme as the not-exactly-catchy-sounding Communications Capabilities Development Programme. In opposition, the Tories had deeply opposed any such grand snooping plans and argued that civil liberties would be eroded by Labour’s National ID-obsessed database state. […] You didn’t trust us with your ID, so we ...

James Slack and Jack Doyle write in the Daily Mail: Controversial plans for a ‘snoopers’ charter’ were in turmoil last night after 40 Tory MPs threatened a full-scale revolt. They are demanding major changes to the Communications Bill, which currently would allow the monitoring of the public’s every phone call, email and internet click. The backbenchers also say the Bill’s scope must be limited to terrorism and the ‘most serious crimes’ if Britain is not to be turned into a nation of suspects. A further concern, they argue, is that the £2billion projected cost is not ‘robust’ and could spiral. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has already demanded the Government return to the ‘drawing board’. Now Tory MP Dominic Raab has collected the names of 40 colleagues who will sign an open letter opposing the Bill unless it is substantially amended. The prospect of a rebellion by both Coalition parties […]

Now 40 Tories warn: Reform the snoopers’ charter or we’ll ...

This letter appeared in today’s Times (and is also available via the Open rights Group web site): The report of the Joint Committee on the draft Communications Data Bill is a withering verdict on the Home Office’s handling of this policy. They say the Home Office gave ‘fanciful and misleading’ evidence for ‘sweeping’ powers that go further than they ‘need or should’. Current interception and surveillance laws are simply not built for a digital age which is seeing exponential growth in the production of personal information. More data than ever before is available. The draft Communications Data Bill is a dangerous fudge of a solution that should not simply be redrafted and brought back to the table. A fundamental review of surveillance law is the only justifiable basis for any future legislation. This should examine how pervasive, personal and intrusive data now is and what powers over its collection, storage, […]

The digital age and surveillance laws

Luke Gittos writes in Spiked: The fact that criticism of the Communications Data Bill was so narrowly focused on the wide scope of the powers it granted to the home secretary shows how the state has internalised the New Labour approach to regulating privacy. We have moved from a position, prior to the passing of RIPA, where the disclosure of data by a person running a communications company was, prima facie, a criminal offence, to a situation where we anticipate a legal obligation being imposed on telecommunications companies to generate and retain data solely for the purposes of disclosure to the state. This speaks to a gradual but colossal erosion of official respect for our privacy. We can be sure that any tweaks to the bill that emerge following the recent furore will do little to reverse the impact of RIPA and its offspring. Today, disclosure of our data is […]

We’re no longer citizens, we’re suspects

John Kampfner writes in The Guardian: Rarely can a parliamentary report have been so thorough and so damning. The unanimous cross-party verdict on the snooper’s charter – the bill that would have allowed the authorities to monitor the communications traffic of every citizen – says the plans were ill-considered, expensive and dangerous. But it goes further. Tuesday’s report implies that the Home Office acted in bad faith – that it tried to dupe MPs and the companies concerned in a sham exercise of consultation, presenting them with conjecture dressed as fact. The word “misleading” is used repeatedly. It calls one assertion, that the failure to tap some data costs an average of 150 lives a year, an “absurdity”. For those of us who have lamented the lack of rigour in parliamentary scrutiny, the work by the joint committee on the draft communications data bill is a refreshing departure. It dissects […]

This damning verdict on the snooper’s charter is the start ...

James Slack writes in the Daily Mail: Nick Clegg has called for a major rethink of plans to monitor people’s phone records and internet use The Deputy Prime Minister’s intervention, which threatens a Coalition split, came after a parliamentary committee expressed ‘serious concerns’ about the so-called snoopers’ charter. MPs and peers accused ministers of using ‘fanciful and misleading’ figures to back up its proposals to give police and security services sweeping powers to access communications data. They said the proposed laws, which would force internet and phone firms to store masses of information about emails, phone calls and internet clicks, go much further than is necessary and amount to overkill. Liberal Democrats said that, in the wake of the criticisms, the government’s draft communications bill must be ripped up. ‘Their report makes a number of serious criticisms – not least on scope; proportionality; cost; checks and balances; and the need […]

Clegg demands major rethink over ‘snoopers’ charter’ that could monitor ...

Jack Doyle writes in the Daily Mail: More than 150 town halls have been blocked from accessing the DVLA database after breaking rules protecting motorists’ privacy. In dozens of cases, councils were caught making unauthorised access to the database – which contains personal details of every licensed driver in the UK. In others, officials were barred because they hadn’t kept proper records of who was accessing the database, how often and for what reason. More than 150 town halls have been blocked from accessing the DVLA database after breaking rules protecting motorists¿ privacy More than 150 town halls have been blocked from accessing the DVLA database after breaking rules protecting motorists’ privacy The councils are among nearly 300 Government bodies or agencies who have been stripped of their DVLA access in the past three years. Councils use the database lawfully to track drivers for parking fines, bus lane tickets and […]

More than 150 councils barred from DVLA database after breaching ...

Brian Wheeler writes for the BBC: Officials are being allowed to trawl databases including the Royal Mail and the Student Loans Company to track down missing voters in a new trial. Data matching could be used to fill in gaps in the electoral register ahead of the launch of individual voter registration in 2014. Ministers say the technique is as accurate as ID cards – but it has raised privacy concerns. Labour peers said it would have been easier if ID cards had been introduced. The ID card scheme was scrapped by the coalition government on privacy and civil liberties grounds – but the Electoral Commission is now faced with the problem of verifying the identity of millions of voters without a central register. ‘Astonishingly cheaper’ Labour peer Baroness Hayter said the government “is no doubt ruing the day” it decided to scrap ID cards. “All these hurdles they are […]

Voter registration: Cross-checking databases ‘as accurate as ID cards’

Tom Newton Dunn writes in the Sun: In an exclusive interview with The Sun, the Home Secretary insists “we could see people dying” if a new law to authorise online probing is blocked. Her thinly-veiled attack on Deputy PM NIck Clegg’s stand on civil liberties grounds is the most explosive public exchange yet between senior Coalition ministers. And it further ratchets up tensions between the Tories and Lib Dems. Mrs May says the new law would be a massive help in preventing another 7/7-style atrocity on Britain’s streets. It would also strike at the heart of crime — and could stop savage events like the gunning down of brave women police officers Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone in September. Mrs May said: “The people who say they’re against this bill need to look victims of serious crime, terrorism and child sex offences in the eye and tell them why they’re […]

Track crime on net or we’ll see more people die

The trickle of leaks and off-the-record briefings over the forthcoming report of the Draft Communications Data Bill committee is slowly increasing. Tom Harper writes in the Evening Standard: Hundreds of obscure public authorities could be given anti-terror powers that would allow the state to monitor everyone’s emails, internet use and mobile phone calls. The Government has asked thousands of officials, including “egg marketing inspectors” and “senior fish health inspectors”, to apply to use a proposed law intended for the police and security services. Phone companies, internet service providers and companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter would be forced to store details of internet site visits, email access and mobile phone calls for 12 months. The powers in the draft Communications Data Bill have triggered protests from civil liberty campaigners and has divided the Coalition. The Lib-Dems are poised to withdraw their support for the Bill next week when a […]

Egg inspectors among obscure bodies who can monitor our emails

James Landale writes on the BBC web site: A joint committee of MPs and peers has been considering the draft bill since the summer and it will publish next week what is expected to be a strongly critical report. One senior Lib Dem minister said: “The report gives Nick an opportunity to kill the bill for good and that’s what he wants to do.” Another said: “This is a dead duck. It is a question of when, not if.” In its report, the joint committee on the draft Communications Data Bill will argue that: The Home Office has failed to make the case for the new laws, not least by failing to show how the police use existing laws to monitor mobile phone data. The bill infringes civil liberties and invades privacy by allowing the police access to a mass of new data without adequate safeguards. In particular, they will […]

Lib Dems ‘may ditch’ Communications Data Bill reports: Data anonymisation does not have to provide a 100 per cent guarantee to individuals’ privacy in order for it to be lawful for organisations to disclose the information, the UK’s data protection watchdog has said. The view of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), detailed in a new code of practice (108-page/2.15MB PDF) on anonymisation it has published, is that organisations that anonymise personal data can disclose that information even if there is a “remote” chance that the data can be matched with other information and lead to individuals being identified. The ICO said that organisations that take action to mitigate the risk of anonymised data being used to identify individuals will be considered to have complied with the Data Protection Act (DPA) even if that action cannot eradicate the threat of the data being used to identify someone. The Act “does not require anonymisation to be completely risk […]

ICO: Anonymised data doesn’t HAVE to guarantee your privacy

Tom Brewster, writes in Tech Week Europe: PayPal has secured a position on the government’s Identity Assurance Programme, which will be managing access for the Universal Credit benefit scheme when it launches next year, TechWeekEurope understands. Last week seven organisations had been brought on board for the Identity Assurance service, which is designed to let people choose how they access government services. But a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson told TechWeekEurope an eighth and final organisation for the Universal Credit project was set to be announced soon. That eighth organisation is set to be announced as PayPal, TechWeekEurope understands. It is believed PayPal will line up alongside those providers announced last week, including the Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex and Verizon. They have all been tasked with delivering a “secure online identity registration service” for the DWP.

PayPal Set For Government Universal Credit Contract?

According to The Newspaper (“A Journal of the Politics of Driving”): The use of Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR, also known as ANPR in the UK) is coming under increasing scrutiny in North America. The American Civil Liberties Union in July began requesting data from law enforcement agencies around the country so the activist group’s lawyers could examine data collection policies. On Thursday, British Columbia, Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioner released the results of an official audit that took six months to look at whether use of the devices by the Victoria Police Department violates the law. Commissioner Elizabeth Denham opened her inquiry after receiving a number of requests from concerned members of the public. She focused on determining whether use of cameras to track and store license plate data from all passing vehicles, even when their occupants were not suspected of any crime, was permissible under Canada’s Freedom of […]

Canada: Privacy Commissioner Blasts License Plate Readers

Julian Sanchez writes for Reuters about the scandal that ended the career of CIA Director David Petraeus this week. He concludes: You don’t have to sympathize with Petraeus to wonder whether any prominent national figure who runs afoul of the FBI – or another influential official, for that matter – could survive the kind of humiliating exposure our modern surveillance state makes commonplace. If everyone has a skeleton or two in the closet, information is the power to decide whose careers will survive. We have unwittingly constructed a legal and technological architecture that brings point-and-click simplicity to the politics of personal destruction. The Petraeus affair has, for a moment, exposed that invisible scaffolding – and provided a rare opportunity to revisit outdated laws and reconsider the expanded surveillance powers doled out over the past panicked decade. Congress should seize the opportunity to re-examine and revise these myriad surveillance techniques and […]

Collateral damage of our surveillance state