Monthly Archives: October 2014


James Ball reports in the Guardian, that the government has confirmed for the first time that British intelligence services can access data collected in bulk by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other foreign spy agencies, without a warrant. GCHQ’s secret “arrangements” for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International.  The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year. Liberty have also issued press release on the revelation which can be found here.

GCHQ can view NSA bulk data without a warrant, government ...


Rory Cellan-Jones the BBC Technology Correspondent reports on the BBC News website how he spent a day without data.  The aim was to explore what data is collected, who benefits from it and how easy it is to avoid leaving a data trail. Rory meets up with Dr George Danezis, an expert on privacy and information security at University College, London who will take him through what he needs to do to avoid leaving a data trail or sharing his data.  However, this is very difficult to do in the modern world. As George highlights: “Your job today is going to be very difficult, You won’t be able to use the internet, but you also won’t be able to do lots of other things – in fact you won’t be able to live a 21st Century life.”

A day without data


Jim Finkle reports on the Reuters website that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is investigating cybersecurity flaws in medical devices and hospital equipment that officials fear could be exploited by hackers. There are no known instances of hackers attacking patients through medical devices; however, the agency is concerned that it may be possible to gain control of the devices remotely and create problems, such as instructing an infusion pump to overdose a patient with drugs, or forcing a heart implant to deliver a deadly jolt of electricity.

U.S. government probes medical devices for possible cyber flaws



Open Rights Group is holding its annual digital rights conference in London on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November 2014. ORGCon features high profile writers, speakers and activists giving their insights into the big issues affecting civil liberties and the Internet.  The focus of this year’s conference is government surveillance and how it can made a key issue for voters in the run up to the General Election in 2015. Further details of the event can be found here.

ORGCon 2014


Alasdair Glennie and Harriet Arkell report in the Mail Online that the BBC has been using Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to track down television licence fee dodgers. This information emerged during questioning at Commons culture, media and sport committee.  Although the BBC has admitted using RIPA, it has refused to say when and how often citing the reason for the secrecy was: “to ensure people without a valid TV licence don’t use this information to their advantage”. John Whittingdale MP, who chairs the culture committee, highlighted that there were questions to be asked over the BBC’s use of RIPA powers and added that: “The problem is, the BBC won’t tell us how it is being used, or in what circumstances. That means we can’t be sure it is being used properly. This legislation was designed to fight terrorism and organised crime. I can’t imagine it was intended for […]

BBC Using Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to track ...


Dominic Kennedy reports* in the Times that Police are using a loophole in the law to allow them to access voice mails, text messages and e-mails without the knowledge of senders or recipients. Interception of live phone messages, texts and e-mails require a warrant granted by the Home Secretary; however, the Police are able to get round this once the messages are stored by use of a Production Order.  These orders are granted by a Circuit Judge, but are outside of the remit of the Interception of Communications Commissioner and hence are not subject to any over site. The investigation by the Times suggests that many Police Forces are using Production Orders on a regular basis, with the mobile phone operator EE stating that they received about 150 requests a month. *The Times online is a subscription service and a subscription is required to read the full article.

Police use loophole to hack phones and email



Graeme Burton reports on the Computing website that the European Union’s Article 29 Working Party has concluded that the so called internet of things will need new forms of informed consent. The Working Party believes that current methods for obtaining consent for data use, which were devised in the 1980s, may be difficult to apply to the internet of things because these methods only provide “low quality consent”. According to law firm Pinsent Masons, the EU is shifting thinking from the idea of consent as a one-time approval to a more granular, case-by-case approach.

Internet of Things will require new forms of consent


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Patrick Wintour reports in the Guardian that the Government is to reform the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), to prevent the Police using the surveillance powers it provides to discover journalistic sources. Simon Huges the Justice Minister said that in future it would require the authorisation of a judge for a police force to be able to access journalists’ phone records in pursuit of a criminal investigation. It follows a series of revelations that Police had used RIPA to access the phone records of Mail on Sunday journalists (click here for story) and the Sun’s Political Editor (click here for story).

Police’s use of Ripa powers to snoop on journalists to ...


The BBC News website reports that the South Korean national identity card scheme is going to have to be completely rebuilt at the cost of billions of dollars. Identity card numbers have been a prime target for hackers due to their use across a variety of sectors for accessing services.  It is estimated that the ID numbers and personal details of an estimated 80% of the country’s 50 million people have been stolen from banks and other targets.  Even the South Korean president has been a victim of data theft. The rebuild may take up to a decade to complete.

South Korean Identity Card System to be Rebuilt from Scratch



The BBC News website reports that 18,304 requests were made to Google to remove weblinks from search results by UK residents under European “right to be forgotten laws”.  According to Google it removed 35% or 18,459 links to web pages following these requests. It follows a European Court of Justice ruling that links to irrelevant and outdated data can be erased on request; however, the ruling sparked criticisms over censorship of material. Google has given examples of the sort of requests it had received and also those it had refused in its transparency report, which is available online at: https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/europeprivacy/  

Thousands of Britons seek ‘right to be forgotten’


Sophie Borland reports in the Daily Mail,that Health Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) making checks on GPs’ surgeries, are routinely looking through patient medical records without seeking the consent of patients. The CQC claims it was granted legal powers to see the files without seeking consent under the Health and Social Care Act 2008. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: “The confidentiality of private medical information is the basis of the trust that patients put in their family doctors and it is vital that this is not compromised. If CQC inspectors want to have access to the private medical records of patients they need to put in place systems that obtain the explicit consent of patients.”

Watchdog is snooping on ‘private’ medical data


Graeme Burton reports on the Computing website that the NHS is to go ahead with the care.data medical records data upload which has been on hold for the past six months due to concerns from privacy campaigners and GPs. NHS England is now planning pilot schemes in six areas across the country covering up to 265 surgeries and 1.7 million patients. The areas include Hampshire, Blackburn and Darwen in Lancashire, Leeds and Somerset, with the full scheme being rolled out shortly after. However, campaigners remain concerned that the method of data anonymisation is not robust will not protect patients from identification.

NHS England to forge ahead with ‘unchanged’ care.data plans



The Mail on Sunday (MoS) reports about the Police using the Regulatory of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA) to secretly access MoS journalists phone records. The records were accessed while they investigated claims from the disgraced former cabinet Minister Chris Huhne that the MoS was involved in a conspiracy against him.  Huhne was convicted of perverting the course of justice in a 2003 speeding case following a story in the MoS. By accessing phone records, Police were able to identify the Journalist Andrew Alderson as the mail on Sunday’s source for the story, even though his identity was protected by the order of a Judge.  The identity of the source, along with details of phone calls between him and MoS News Editor David Dilllon, were then passed onto Chris Huhne’s defence lawyers by prosecutors as part of the process of  legal disclosure. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select […]

Police Spy on Mail on Sunday Journalists Phone Records


Alan Travis reports in the Guardian that Theresa May the Home Secretary has vowed that a future Conservative government will introduce into law the Communications Data Bill, which is often referred to as the Snooper’s Charter. May criticised the Liberal Democrats for blocking the Communications Data Bill two years ago claiming that: “If we do not act, we risk sleepwalking into a society in which crime can no longer [be] investigated and terrorists can plot their murderous schemes undisrupted.” However, the Liberal Democrats rejected May’s claim that their opposition to the “Snooper’s Charter” was putting lives at risk, pointing out that the police can already access communications data when needed.

Theresa May vows Tory government would introduce ‘snooper’s charter’