Monthly Archives: January 2012

Michael Cross writes on the UK AuthorITy web site: Concerns about personal privacy appeared in a “significant” number of responses to the government’s consultation on transparency and open data, the Cabinet Office revealed today. A summary of responses to last year’s consultation on “Making Open Data Real”, says that respondents “expressed concern that the consutlation failed to address the interaction between personal data… with open data, and the potential for open data to have a negative impact on confidentiality and privacy.” The officil consultation summary and all the responses can be accessed via the Cabinet Office web page.

Privacy worries dog open data consultation

Stephen Adams writes in the Daily Telegraph: A national DNA database is needed if the NHS is to capitalise on advances in technology and offer personalised medicine to all in the future, advisors have told the Government. At the moment the health service is just starting to offer patients genetic testing, for example to tell if they will respond to certain cancer fighting drugs. But in the future the technology is likely to be central to many areas of healthcare – from testing pregnant women’s blood to check the foetus’s risk of Down’s syndrome, to tracking disease outbreaks. Sir John Bell, chair of the Human Genomics Strategy Group, said to deliver ‘genomic’ based medicine in the future, a national database was necessary. Speaking yesterday (Wednesday) to launch a report by the group to make this happen, he said: “It’s almost impossible to go forward with the whole personalised medicine agenda, […]

National DNA database needed for personalised medicine drive

Lori MacVittie writes at ZDnet: The term big data has come to mean big headaches for IT organisations and big problems for consumers. Privacy is a growing concern as more and more data is not only collected but voluntarily shared by consumers in exchange for free access to applications and functionality. Those wondering how much sites such as Facebook might know about them have to jump through hoops to find out and are likely to be surprised by how many personal details websites actually store. The TV documentary Erasing David, screened on More 4 in 2010, detailed an attempt by film maker David Bond to do just that — find out how private his identity really is. After deliberately disappearing for a month, he hired detectives to track him down. Before his disappearing act, Bond spent weeks trying to find out just how much information various websites held on him. […]

Can cloud unravel the data-sharing puzzle?

According to Information Age: Eight employees of Essex Police, including three police officers, have resigned after allegedly accessing the personal records of citizens contained in the Police National Computer. One of the officers and a community support officer face criminal charges of gross misconduct for illegally accessing and sharing the data. Essex Police analysed the data access histories of all 5,500 of its employees after it emerged that confidential data had been shared with the public, the East Anglian Daily Times reported yesterday.

Essex Police staff resign over illegal database access

Andrew Orlowski writes at The Register: So-called ‘smart meters’ are under renewed attack – this time from MPs and Which? magazine, which has recommended a halt to the programme. Later in the week the Public Accounts Committee is expected to be critical of the ambitious scheme, which comes at a high (£11bn+) cost to consumers, and which critics say is based on shaky maths. Labour leader Ed Miliband ordered the programme as one of his final gifts to the nation as Energy Secretary. It involves replacing all 53 million gas and electricity meters at UK homes and businesses. The new wireless devices, which call home, are touted as an environmental benefit. But their sole advantage is strategic: they provide power companies with a remote ‘kill switch’ to the home. The Climate Change Committee report of a year ago noted that: “Meters will allow supply to be controlled remotely.” And don’t […]

Stop this energy smart meter ‘fiasco’, urged

Dmitri Prieto writes on the Havana Times web site, comparing his experiences of living in London and Havana: What recently happened to my friend Mario Castillo, who was arrested and fined here in Cuba for not carrying his ID, reminded me of my experiences in Great Britain. When I went to that country for a year to study for a master’s degree in anthropology, I knew that within three days of my arrival I was required to register with the police. It turned out that I had to register not at just any police station, but at a kind of special center where they produced the documents for resident foreigners. After going through a long line, I was interviewed by an officer who took a picture with a digital camera and, in almost the same instant, handed me my A4-formatted document. On it appeared my origin, my home address, the […]

Cuba and Having to Carry an ID Card

Katharine Whitehorn writes in the Observer: Bye bye bendy bus. No more identity-card threat. And now they’ve given up on that massive computer system containing everyone’s medical details, down to the last ingrowing toenail. How should we celebrate this? Memorial services for people are thanksgivings for the life, but when it comes to lousy ideas mercifully aborted we need a thanksgiving for their death, a celebration of the fact the blasted things are now off the agenda. I don’t know whose giant brain looked at London’s narrow streets and dreamed up the wonderful idea of a bus that took up twice as much room. Nor who, failing to understand that the larger the programme, the greater the chance of error, thought up a nationwide medical register. Or why, after years of protests against the pass laws in South Africa, compulsory identity passes were suddenly supposed to be a good idea.

United we stand – against bendy buses, identity cards and ...

Steven Morris writes in the Guardian about technology that tracks customers as they navigate shopping centres by picking up signals from their mobile phones: Under the FootPath scheme a series of monitoring devices are installed throughout a shopping centre. The units pick up signals from a customer’s mobile phone and can pinpoint the person’s position to within 2m. The data gleaned is fed to a processing centre where it is collected, analysed and fed back. According to Path Intelligence, the Hampshire-based company behind FootPath, the information can help centres understand what mix of shops works best, how promotions affect the number of customers and can optimise rents by finding out which spots are the most profitable. It can also give an insight into where facilities such as food-courts or toilets are best sited and can help plan for emergencies. It says its detector units do not allow it to obtain […]

Shopping centre tracking system condemned by civil rights campaigners

Matthew Holehouse, John Bingham and James Kirkup write in the Daily Telegraph about proposals by Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, for a centralised database of medical implants: “The minimum requirement is for mandatory databases to be established for all surgical implants and associated techniques. This would need funding, but the NHS would benefit in the long run from avoiding the heavy costs of treating patients whose implants had failed. Such a system would detect problems at a much earlier stage and would reduce the chance of disasters and misery, such as that associated with these PIP breast implants, from occurring again,” [Professor Williams] wrote. Asked about whether the scandal may lead to such a database, [Health Scretary] Mr Lansley told the BBC: “Yes I think it’s right. It does raise that prospect. There was such a register before 2006 but it was given up because […]

Breast implant scandal: Andrew Lansley indicates support for register

According to the Daily Telegraph: Passengers arriving at Heathrow this summer could face lengthy delays at passport control as immigration staff are being redeployed from their normal roles to collect biometric data off Olympic athletes arriving in dedicated passport lanes. Visiting athletes have been encouraged to supply biometric data – such as fingerprints and photographs – in advance but those who do not will need to have the information taken by border staff. The information will then be checked against immigration and security watch-lists of terrorists and criminals stored on a database. But the Border Agency have warned the process, which will costs more than £2 million, could result in normal passengers being delayed passing through border control.

London 2012 Olympics: passengers braced for heavy delays at Heathrow ...