Severin Carrell reports in the Guardian that the UK Information Commissioner says proposals to put every Scottish citizen on a central database accessible to 120 public bodies, risks breaching data protection laws and privacy standards. The Scottish SNP Government wants a single central identity database known as “Myaccount”, which public bodies would use to allow users to access services.  However, the scheme is similar to the UK ID card and national identity register that was rejected on civil liberties grounds by the UK government in 2010. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) said ministers had failed to carry out the necessary privacy impact assessment before drafting proposals, and had failed to explicitly set out the reasons why the new national database was needed.  It also said that Scottish ministers were unwise to reject the much more privacy-friendly system for accessing public services now being considered by the Cabinet Office, where an […]

Scotland-wide ID database risks personal privacy and civil liberties – ...

Kyle Ellison reports on the WeLiveSecurity website that Russian authorities have indicated that VPNs and the online anonymising software Tor, could be banned for the country’s 143.5 million residents. Speaking on 5th February, Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma Committee on Information Policy, said: “One of the factors in the formation of the Internet environment in our country has become the authority for the pre-trial blocking of websites. It allows us to block sites banned in Russia quickly enough. At the same time the pre-trial blocking of anonymising services deserves attention, such as access to the anonymous network Tor.” Shortly after Levin’s speech, Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor came out in support of the Tor and VPN ban.

Russia seeks VPN and Tor ban

Shaun Nichols reports on the Register website that California State Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, has put forward a bill that would make police searches of electronic devices subject to the same controls as filing cabinets, drawers and other physical objects. The bill would require the authorities to obtain a search warrant before they can pull information off computers, Smartphone or other electronic devices. In introducing his bill Leno said, “The personal files in your desk drawer at home cannot be seized without a warrant, but the digital files on your Smartphone and tablet, no matter how sensitive, do not have the same protection.  This bill strikes the right balance between safeguarding Californians against improper government intrusion of their electronic data and protecting the right of law enforcement to use technology when it is needed to protect public safety.” If the law is passed, California will join a list of […]

California considers a new law to require a warrant for ...

Steven Swinford reports in the Daily Telegraph that an independent consultation has suggested that the BBC could be given access to people’s private data to help make collection of the licence fee more efficient. The consultation prepared by David Perry QC, suggests that as well as people’s publicly available records, access could also be granted to information from banks, utility companies and other sources. The data would be added into the TV licensing Authority’s database of 31 million households to allow more effective identification of licence fee evaders.   Footnote from Newsblog Editor: The review also suggests that new legislation could be introduced to prosecute anyone who fails to inform authorities that they don’t have a television.  This would be very much an implementation of the strict liability principle which in itself is a worrying development. Strict liability is becoming an increasing feature in UK law and assumes automatic guilt […]

BBC could get powers to access people’s private data

Open Rights Group Scotland are holding a series of meetings in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow to organise a campaign against plans by the Scottish Government for a National Identity Database.  Further details of these meetings can be found by following the links below: Aberdeen: Edinburgh: Glasgow: The Scottish Government’s plan to introduce a centralised national identity register was highlighted on the Newsblog in January and can be found here.

Open Rights Group meetings to oppose a Scottish National Identity ...

It has emerged that Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter terrorism co-ordinator, wants companies to be required by law to hand over encryption keys for communication services, in order to allow interception of messages by EU governments. The revelation came following the leak of an EU document by civil liberties group Statewatch outlining the proposals for discussion at an informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Riga on 29 January 2015. Section 3 (f) of the document states: Since the Snowden revelations, internet and telecommunications companies have started to use often de-centralized encryption which increasingly makes lawful interception by the relevant national authorities technically difficult or even impossible. The Commission should be invited to explore rules obliging internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide under certain conditions as set out in the relevant national laws and in full compliance with fundamental rights access of the […]

EU wants back doors into encryption Software

Kevin Rawlinson reports on the BBC news website that an attempt by four peers to include clauses from the defunct Communications Data Bill (the Snoopers’ Charter) in the Counter Terrorism Bill, has been aborted following a lack of support from other peers. The attempt by the peers to sneak in the clauses was widely condemned by privacy groups and the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA). However, BBC news understands they will try again next week, unless the Home Office publishes a government redraft of the bill.

“Snoopers’ charter” revival on hold

Patrick Wintour reports in the Guardian that a cross-party alliance of lords are attempting to force a revised version of the so called “Snoopers’ Charter” into law via an amendment to Counter Terrorism Bill. The amendment introduces into the Counter Terrorism Bill clauses lifted from the now defunct Communications Data Bill, which was abandoned by the Coalition Government in 2013 following a campaign by privacy groups and the refusal of the Liberal Democrat’s to support it. The amendment has been proposed by a group that includes a former Conservative defence secretary, a former Metropolitan police commissioner, a former Labour defence minister and a Liberal Democrat peer.  Surprisingly, they did not discuss the amendment with the government beforehand.  If passed the amendment will give the Home Secretary new powers to require internet service providers to retain their customer’s web data and disclose it to public authorities on request. The amendment to […]

Lords attempt to revive the ”Snoopers’ Charter”

An article on the Conservative Home website written by Andrew Bower is extremely critical of David Cameron’s recently announced plan to ban strong encryption. In the article, Bower criticises the policy as yielding no security benefits while leaving Britain open to cyber attack and David Cameron’s vision of a Digital Britain in tatters.  He points out that technically it is almost impossible to implement, as encryption algorithms will still exist and can be re-implemented by programmers on all sorts of devices including legacy computers from the 80s. At the end of the article Bower said: “This proposal is totally unworkable and cannot survive serious scrutiny.  It will inevitably have to be dropped, so it would be better to drop it now and limit the damage to the reputation of our country and our party”. Up to the date of this post, the article had received 57 comments with the vast […]

Conservative party grass-roots not impressed by David Cameron’s plan to ...

Following on from David Cameron’s recent announced policy of banning strong encryption, it has been revealed that in 1997 the Government of the day had a plan to restrict encryption. The revelation comes in a long forgotten Public Consultation Paper issued in March 1997, which proposed that the use of encryption should be restricted to Trusted Third Parties (TTPs) who would be licensed and regulated by the Government.  These TTPs would provide a range of encrypted communication services to businesses for e-commerce purposes, while allowing the Government a back-door into such communications. It is clear from the document that by 1997 politicians had realised that electronic commerce was dependent upon secure communication.  However, as is the still very much the case today, they were paranoid that encryption would interfere with the ability of Government bodies such as the security services to monitor communications.  The document provides an interesting historical insight […]

Previous UK attempt to restrict encryption revealed

Nigel Morris writes in the Independent that the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has condemned calls for the revival of the Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the Snoopers’ Charter, following the terrorist attacks in Paris. It puts him at odds with David Cameron who has promised to give the intelligence services extra surveillance powers if he wins the general election later this year. Nick Clegg said: “The snoopers’ charter is not targeted, it is not proportionate, it’s not harmless. It would be a new and dramatic shift in the relationship between the state and the individual.” Separately, Simon Huges the Liberal Democrat Justice Minister has warned in a press release that introducing the Snoopers’ Charter is a step too far in tackling terrorism.

Nick Clegg condemns calls for revival of the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’

Bruno Waterfield reports in the Telegraph that the EU will seek new powers to monitor air travel and the movements of air passengers, in the aftermath of terror attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket. The push for enhanced travel surveillance follows concerns that the EU’s free movement zone makes it harder for security services keep an eye on jihadis with links to Syria or Iraq. However, Statewatch, a European civil liberties watchdog, criticised the plan and accused the EU of a coming up with a list of unworkable and legally questionable measures unlikely to prevent the sort of attacks seen in Paris. Ben Hayes, a specialist in EU security policy for Statewatch said: “On the basis of what is now known about the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the need to review existing security arrangements far outweighs the need for any new legislation.”

EU pushes for new powers to monitor air travel following ...

Ben Riley-Smith reports in the Telegraph that George Osborne has dropped hints that the Conservatives want to bring back the Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the Snooper’s Charter. It follows the terrorist attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket, and claims by the Head of MI5 that al-Qaeda is planning a Paris-style terrorist atrocity against Britain. Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP chairman of Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), also called for the security services to be given extra powers to monitor the internet. The Conservatives were forced to drop the Communications Data Bill, which would have given the security services more powers to access online communications, in 2013 following opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

George Osborne hints at bringing back Snooper’s Charter after Paris ...

SC Yeung writes on the Ejinsight website about a Hong Kong Government plan to replace currently used smart identity cards with a new enhanced version. However, the new card could present significant privacy concerns and allow the government to tighten social control and stifle dissent.  A  key concern is that the new card will have built in radio frequency identification (RFID) which will allow the device to transmit data to and from designated devices.  This could enable the tracking of an individuals movements without their knowledge.

New Hong Kong identity card will be smarter and more ...

Todd Fitzgerald reports in the Manchester Evening News that the City of Salford is a hotspot for council snooping. Salford Council has used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to carry out surveillance on city residents on four times as many occasions as the average local authority.  But in over 90% of cases nobody was found doing anything wrong. However, Town Halls have used the act less in recent years since stricter guidelines were introduced at the end of 2012, which required councils to get permission from a magistrate for such surveillance.

Salford is a council snooping hotspot