Monthly Archives: January 2013


Public Servant magazine reports: The draft Communications Data Bill, widely referred to by critics and civil liberty groups as a “snoopers’ charter”, had been pushed forward by Home Secretary Theresa May as necessary for police and intelligence services to keep pace with serious criminals and terrorists on the internet. It would have allowed them greater access to information on people’s online communications. But with mounting pressure from campaigners and serious criticisms made by a cross party parliamentary committee about the “scope, proportionality, cost” and checks and balances associated with the bill, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg blocked the plans in December, ordering a “fundamental rethink”. The government’s estimate that the bill would cost a total of £1.8bn had also been brought into question on several occasions, with much higher costs feared. But one detail of the costs has now emerged – police forces themselves would have been required to reimburse […]

Data costs in ‘snoopers’ charter’ would have hit police forces


According to the BBC: Blanket criminal records checks are not “compatible” with a key part of the Human Rights Act, the Court of Appeal has concluded. The checks, known as CRBs, may prevent a persons right to a private or family life, a draft judgement has found. The ruling was made based on the case of a 21-year-old man, who had been forced to reveal details of two police warnings given to him a decade earlier. The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said the CRB system must be reformed. The draft judgement was made on 21 December 2012, but was not revealed at the time amid concerns about its implications for the government over the CRB system. The article quotes Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for Liberty: “The overzealous CRB system has allowed old, minor and unreliable information to wreck the lives of too many hardworking people in the UK. […]

Judges rule CRB checks ‘incompatible’ with Human Rights Act


Toby Stevens writes for Computer Weekly about the forthcoming government Identity Assurance scheme: The government’s Identity Assurance programme has finally announced its eighth candidate Identity Provider, in the form of PayPal; the announcement had been delayed pending the completion of PayPal’s contract negotiations. This completes the ecosystem of potential providers who may develop certified identity systems for use within the Department for Work & Pensions’ first tranche of providers who will support the early deliveries of Universal Credit. Other government departments – most notably HMRC – are likely to use this same framework for their early implementations. Over the next few weeks I’ll try, as best I can, to clarify some of the uncertainties and to dispel some of the emerging myths about what Identity Assurance really is. There will inevitably be some threads at the end of which, if we pull hard enough, we’ll find a non-disclosure agreement which […]

Identity Assurance: Who, where, when?



The BBC reports: Researchers have identified people in the US who anonymously donated their DNA for use in medical research – raising concerns about privacy. They could uncover a person’s identity using records of donated DNA coupled with other readily available sources of information on the internet. It was made possible because of large “genetic genealogy” databases which help people trace their family tree. The study was reported in the journal Science. There is a strong link in men between their surname and unique markings on the male, or Y, chromosome. These genetic markings are a useful tool when investigating a family tree as they are passed from father to son and are used in “genetic genealogy” databases. Researchers from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research used this freely available data to create a computer programme which could match unique markers to surnames. This was used to hunt through an […]

Donated genetic data ‘privacy risk’


Graeme Burton writes in Computing: Security guru Professor Ross Anderson has criticised the government’s latest plans to make NHS medical records all-electronic, shared not just throughout the NHS, but with care homes and social services, too. Under plans unveiled today, all prescriptions, diagnoses, operations and test results will be stored centrally by the end of 2014. By 2018, all parts of the NHS will be able to actively share this data – encompassing hospitals, GP surgeries, and the ambulance service. In addition, health secretary Jeremy Hunt is pushing for local authorities to sign up so that social services and care homes will also have access to sensitive medical records. But Anderson does not believe that the plans have been thought through and that they would almost inevitably mean the end of privacy for people’s medical records, given the wide access to the records across the public sector and its contractors.

Expert predicts government NHS data-sharing plans spell end for patient ...


Madlen Davies writes in Pulse: An LMC [Local Medical Committee] is advising GP practices to block the creation of Summary Care Records after NHS managers backtracked on plans for a media campaign informing patients of their right to opt out of the scheme. Manchester LMC is advising all practices to refuse to agree to SCR uploads unless the local PCT agrees to pay for a publicity campaign to inform patients about the SCRs being created. Dr John Hughes, chair of Manchester LMC, told Pulse the compulsory Public Information Programme (PIP) mailing providing information about SCRs and giving the patient 12 weeks to opt out of the programme was sent out in 2010, but the programme had changed since then and SCRs were only being created now. He said that following pressure from the LMC, the PCT had initially agreed for an advert to run on TV and in the Manchester […]

Local Medical Committee boycotts Summary Care Record uploads over consent ...



Nick Huber writes in the Independent: Taxpayers’ personal data, including records of web sites they have visited and where their mobile phone calls are made, is being viewed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs on an increasingly frequent basis. In 2011, HMRC was authorised to view 14,381 items of “communications data” on taxpayers while investigating tax evasion, compared with 11,513 items in 2010, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act and seen by The Independent. Using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, HMRC can see web sites viewed by taxpayers; where a mobile phone call was made or received; and the date and time of emails, texts and phone calls. It is not clear how many times the surveillance has led to a successful prosecution for tax evasion – or whether those found to be innocent are told that they have been spied on. HMRC did […]

The tax man is watching you: HMRC snoops on public ...


The Politics.co.uk web site has been examining the veracity of the coalition’s audit: Promise: Snoopers’ charter Original promise: We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason. What it says: We have published proposals in the draft Communications Data Bill, to provide clarity over what types of personal data are required to be stored by communications and internet service providers for security and law-enforcement purposes, as well as strengthen safeguards around the acquisition, retention and use of such data. What really happened: The coalition went against all its privacy principles by trying to store electronic and phone communication information at the point of the internet service provider. While the content of the emails and calls allegedly won’t be recorded, information about the time and people involved in the communication will. This massive increase in state snooping powers relies on them not checking the content of the […]

The coalition’s broken promises audit: All the best bits