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Time for surveillance transparency


Today the three heads of Britain's intelligence agencies appear infront of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee in a televised hearing, the first time for such a hearing to be broadcast. Progress, yes, but let's not get ahead of ourselves - the head of the CIA first appeared on TV speaking to congress in 1975, so it's hardly a revolution in oversight. Today we have published new polling by

GCHQ faces legal action over mass surveillance


Today Big Brother Watch, working with the Open Rights Group, English PEN and German internet activist Constanze Kurz, has announced legal papers have been filed alleging that GCHQ has illegally intruded on the privacy of millions of British and European citizens. We allege that by collecting vast amounts of data leaving or entering the UK, including the content of emails and social media messages, the UK’s spy

Patients win choice of sharing medical records


Earlier this year, we led the concern that a new NHS data sharing plan would see every patient's medical records uploaded to a new information system without the right to opt-out. We warned at the time that patient records would be out of patient control. On Friday, the Secretary of State confirmed that this will not be the case. We have worked closely with MedConfidential and Privacy International to ensure

Boom in private investigators risks avoiding surveillance regulation


Our latest report highlights the growing use of private investigators by local and public authorities, particularly the number of times they are used without RIPA authorisation. The law in the UK, particularly the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, is broadly drawn to allow evidence to be introduced in court that in other jurisdictions would not be deemed admissible. Contrasted with the fruit of the poisonous

CRB check

The RPSCA will PNC you now

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Civil Liberties, CRB check, Data Protection, Databases, Information Commissioner, Police, Privacy | 12 Comments

police-2Over the last few years we have highlighted various privacy concerns about a range of government databases, from the National DNA Database to the DVLA database. Our report in 2011 found how nearly 1,000 police officers had been disciplined for unlawful accessing information over a three year period. Violations of the Data Protection Act included running background checks on friends and potential partners and passing on sensitive information to criminal gangs and drug dealers.

Today The Register has revealed that the RSPCA is able to access information from the PNC, despite not having any formal prosecution powers and not being a statutory-organisation. The information handed over is subsequently going unaudited by the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO) – run by the Association of Chief Police Officers – who also charge for the access. This is despite the PNC User Manual specifically stipulating that auditing is required for organisations that have had access to ‘sensitive information’. If auditing is not being carried out, it is impossible to know whether the RSPCA are using the sensitive data under necessity and proportionately and if they are deleting it when their investigation has concluded.

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“Legal Minds Agree” that CRB is a breach of human rights

Posted on by Emma Carr Posted in CRB check, Human Rights Act, Legal Action, Privacy | 32 Comments

iStock_000016822421MediumIn a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the law which requires people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.

In this case, a 21 year old man wanted cautions to be removed from his criminal record. His crime, being accused of stealing two bicycles at aged 11. Information about the cautions had been flagged up when applying for a part-time job at a local football club at the age of 17 and later when he applied for a university course in sports studies.

An urgent reform of the Criminal Records Bureau is required. This case highlights how the Coalition’s reforms have not gone far enough and the CRB system continues to lead to absurd results in too many cases, including thousands of people being wrongly branded criminals.

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