Monthly Archives: July 2015

The BBC News website reports that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) wants to collect information from internet companies to allow it to identify companies and individuals who have not declared income from online sales. The planned powers would cover sites that carry advertising, App stores such as those for Apple and Google, booking intermediaries like Airbnb and also e-commerce sites such as Ebay.  The plan does raise obvious concerns about the potential for fishing expeditions by HMRC, as they plan to cross-reference this third-party information against other records they hold and information supplied by taxpayers themselves, in order to identify individuals and businesses evading tax. HMRC have issued consultation document on the plans which can be found here. Comment from the Newsblog Editor: These proposed powers are interesting in the context of past attempts to increase HMRC surveillance powers.  HMRC was to be one of the chief beneficiaries of the […]

HMRC Plans to Monitor internet Sites and Transactions for Tax ...

Karl Thomas reports on the Welivesecurity website that local authorities in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk have suffered more than 160 data breaches in the past year. Most incidents were the result of human error, such as e-mails and letters being misaddressed. However, in one astonishing case a filing cabinet containing sensitive files was sold following an office move, although the files were subsequently recovered from the buyer.

Eastern England Councils in Slew of Data Breach Errors

Tom Whitehead reports in the Daily Telegraph that an Interception of Communications Commissioner report has highlighted that five people have had their homes searched and computers seized after they were wrongly identified as paedophiles, with one person being arrested.  Additionally, information on dozens of other innocent people was wrongfully disclosed to the officers investigating child sex abuse or pornography due to errors with the requests. Commenting on the errors Joanna Cavan, the head of commissioner’s office, said: “Although the numbers are small, the consequences are significant and they can be devastating.” The failures did not only mean that innocent people were investigated but that some genuine suspects escaped investigation because by the time it was realised that the wrong people were being investigated, the records of the suspects had been deleted by their internet service providers. The report also reveals that 998 errors were made in communications data requests in […]

Innocent People Treated as Paedophiles after Snooping Blunders

In a land mark case two MPs, David Davis and Tom Watson, have won a High Court judgement that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) is incompatible with human rights (see this BBC News article here). Legislation is normally subject to significant Parliamentary scrutiny, but the MPs claimed that because DRIPA was rushed through in days, there was no time for proper parliamentary scrutiny, hence the need for the unusual step of judicial review.   The MPs argued before the court that DRIPA was incompatible with the right to a private and family life, and data protection, under both the Human Rights Act and the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights.  An argument that the court accepted. In the judgement the court has ruled that the unlawful sections of DRIPA can stay in force until the end of March 2016, to allow time for the government to compose new […]

MPs Win Surveillance Powers Legal Challenge, but Government to Appeal

A recent article in The Independent newspaper by Andrew Griffin highlights that Facebook is almost certainly tracking people using its rainbow picture tool, which enables users to change their profile picture to rainbow coloured in support of same-sex marriage. In using the tool many users are probably not aware that they are providing demographic data to Facebook which could be used to target advertising, or be supplied to third parties.  Just as many are not aware that the Facebook “pay with data” financial model, means that all information provided to the site may potentially be used for commercial purposes.  It should also be noted that although Facebook has stated that the information gathered by the tool will not be used for serving advertising, the site is notorious for its ever-changing privacy model, so the assurance probably needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Interestingly, social scientists have already […]

Facebook Could Use Rainbow Profile Pictures to Profile Users