Database state

Articles in favour of identity cards


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The Scottish Government  has proposed to resurrect the centralised National Identity Register. The proposal is contained within a seemingly anodyne consultation entitled “proposed amendments to the National Health Service Central Register (Scotland) Regulations 2006”. In effect the  proposals set out within the consultation would transform the Scottish NHS register (NHSCR) into a full scale population register accessible to over 120 Scottish authorities, and once on this population register every citizen would be assigned a Unique Citizen Reference Number (“UCRN”). An excellent analysis of what is being proposed has been provided on the Hawktalk blog. The parallels this scheme has to the UK wide National Identity Scheme strongly debated over a decade ago are uncanny. The 2006 Identity Cards Act that was repealed by the coalition government also allowed any public authority access to the National Identity Register “for the purpose of securing the efficient and effective provision of public services”.  The National Identity Scheme […]

The Scottish Government resurrects the National Identity Register


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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’


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Andrew Griffin reports in the Independent that David Cameron has said he would ban the use of encryption that cannot be broken by UK security services. However, such a move could mean that many social media applications such as WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime could be banned, as  they all encrypt user data. The Prime Minister made the statement while giving a pledge to revive the Snoopers’ Charter, to give the security services greater powers to monitor internet activity following the terrorist attacks in Paris. Many social media companies such as WhatsApp are committed to keeping their services encrypted and unable to be read by authorities, following Edward Snowden’s revelations on NSA surveillance.

WhatsApp and iMessage could be banned under new surveillance plans



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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 ...


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 ...



Robert Mendick, and Robert Verkaik report in the Daily Telegraph that Nursery school staff and registered childminders will have to report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government. The proposal is in a Home Office consultation document to accompany the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently going through parliament.  It suggests that nurseries and along with schools and universities have a duty to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.  However, critics claim the plan is heavy-handed and turns teachers and carers as “spies”.  There are also concerns over the practicalities of making it a legal requirement for staff to inform on toddlers. David Davis, MP said: “It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.  Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising […]

Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers



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



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The Open Rights Group has prepared a briefing on the Counter-Terrorism and Security bill announced by the Home Secretary Theresa May on 26 November 2014. The Bill extends the scope of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA). The bill introduces other measures such as a duty on certain authorities to prevent people being drawn into terrorism; the core requirement of the new legislation is that ISPs record the user of a specific IP address at a specific time. In April 2014 blanket data retention was ruled illegal by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and it is doubtful that the new legislation complies with the permissible limits of data retention set out by this judgement. See also this previous post for further information on the proposed legislation.  

Open Rights Group – Briefing on Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill


Jennifer Baker reports on The Register website that the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has ruled that GCHQ’s mass surveillance Tempora programme is legal in principle.  It made the ruling following a case brought by Privacy International, Liberty, Amnesty International and other parties. Tempora is the code name given to an operation run by GCHQ to allow huge amounts of intercepted internet data to be temporarily stored for analysis.  It is reported to hold content for three days and metadata for 30 days.  The  case put to the tribunal was that Tempora breached article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is the right to privacy, as well as article 10, which protects freedom of expression. Privacy International deputy director Eric King said of the decision: “Today’s decision by the IPT that this is business as usual is a worrying sign for us all.  The idea that previously secret […]

Tribunal says Tempora programme is legal


Rob Evans reports in the Guardian that a group of journalists have launched legal action against Metropolitan Police who have been secretly recording their activities on the Domestic Extremist Database. They have started the legal action to expose what they say is a persistent pattern of journalists being assaulted, monitored and stopped and searched by police during their work, which often includes documenting police misconduct. The six journalists have obtained official files under the Data Protection Act that reveal how police logged details of their work as they reported on protests. One video journalist discovered that the Metropolitan Police had more than 130 entries detailing his movements. The group includes a journalist on the Times.  Jules Mattsson, who, police noted, was “always looking for a story”.  Mattsson said that when he had been a victim of crime, police had transferred on to the Domestic Extremism Database details of his appearance, […]

Police face legal action for snooping on journalists



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The BBC News website reports that Theresa May the Home Secretary is proposing a law forcing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to hand over to the police information identifying who was using a computer or mobile phone at a given time. Although the current proposals do not resurrect the full powers in the abandoned Communications Data Bill, which is commonly called the Snoopers’ Charter, Conservative MP and former leadership contender David Davis said the new measure was a “stepping stone back” to those proposals. The core requirement of the new legislation is that ISPs record the user of a specific IP address at a specific time. Although each device has its own IP address, these change over time and when a device is switched on and off and thus an IP address is typically shared between different users. At the moment ISPs have no business need to retain information on a […]

Internet data plan back on political agenda


Frankie Mullin discusses on the Vice website if nightclubs are breaking the law storing clubbers finger prints and scanned IDs. ID scanning equipment is increasingly a feature in clubs and bars across the UK and is often required by the local licensing authority as part of the licence conditions for a venue.  However, there are concerns about the storage and retention of this personal data and the use to which it can be put, particularly as club owners were found to be unclear about data protection requirements. The power to require clubs to collect ID is in the Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010, which was introduced by the coalition government.  In the article NO2ID’s General Secretary Guy Herbert highlights that: “…. at the same time as the government was making a fanfare about repealing Labour’s ID Cards legislation, they were creating a special case of requiring the […]

Are UK Nightclubs Breaking Data Laws by Storing Your ID ...


Sam Jones and Murad Ahmed report in the Financial Times that Robert Hannigan the new chief of the UK electronic spying agency, GCHQ, has accused US technology companies of becoming  “the command and control networks of choice for terrorists”. Hannigan says: “However much they may dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us”. However,  his remarks were rejected by many in the industry, with one US tech group executive criticising the suggestion that technology companies should circumvent current legal process and asking: “What should we do if the Saudi or Russian government also demand information be handed over on the spot?”

Britain’s new chief of GCHQ claims that US technology companies ...