Today, the country begins the process of coming to terms with the horrific attack in Woolwich yesterday.
We know little about those who have committed this brutal terror attack. Videos and photographs have brought the chilling savagery of the perpetrators into our homes.
As the Prime Minister said:
“The terrorists will never win because they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, western values. They are never going to defeat those.
“That is how we will stand up to these people, whoever they are, however many there are of them, and that is how we will win.”
Sadly, Lords Reid and Carlise did not restrain themselves from attacking the Government even hours after the attack. It is wholly wrong for them tobe arguing for a change of policy before the details of what has happened in Woolwich are clear and before even the family of the victim had been notified. At this time our thoughts should be with the victim’s family and not on scoring political headlines.
In a word, yes.
When news broke of the US Government’s wholesale request for data on Associated Press journalists,
The New Yorker quickly highlighted how US law allowed the Department of Justice to go straight to the phone companies, without notifying AP (although it’s own guidelines said this should not normally happen.) Because of this, there was no opportunity to test the justification for such a massive intrusion on the freedom of the press.
Yesterday’s Sunday Times carried an alarming story on its front page about the mobile phone data of 27 million EE customers being sold to IpsosMori, and in turn onto third parties including the Met Police.
The paper would clearly have not published without a sufficiently high standard of evidence and the Met police’s reaction – to suddenly announce it was abandoning the plans, despite high-level meetings in recent weeks – suggests a nerve has been touched.
The paper’s evidence is clearly damming. “Documents to promote the data reveal that it includes “gender, age, postcode, websites visited, time of day text is sent [and] location of customer when call is made”. They state that people’s mobile phone use and location can be tracked in real time with records of movements, calls and texts also available for the previous six months.”
We have already made Freedom of Information Act requests for these documents, and urge IpsosMori to publish them urgently to allay public concerns.
Everything Everywhere needs to come clean on what data it is releasing, and why it is storing this data where there is no business purpose.
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 this and it is another victory for Big Brother Watch campaigning to protect privacy.
Jeremy Hunt said on Friday: “”GPs will not share information with the HSCIC if people object…people will have a veto on that information being shared in the wider system”
More than a year ago, we learned that the Home Office was resurrecting it’s plan to monitor every British citizens’ internet use.
Big Brother Watch led the charge against these plans, giving evidence to Parliament, urging our supporters to write to their MPs and being the central force in the media campaign against the so called Snoopers Charter. We highlighted how the Home Office had misrepresented the work of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre to support the bill, demonstrated alternatives were available – and that was before the technology companies tore into the proposals.
When the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill published our report, we hosted a press conference that included David Davis MP, Jimmy Wales, Sir Chris Fox and Lord MacDonald.
Last week, we published 15 reasons why the Bill was the wrong approach.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has just announced that the Communications Data Bill is dead. He said on LBC : “What people dub the snoopers’ charter, that’s not going to happen – certainly with Lib Dems in government.”
(Governments by convention never comment directly on the content of the Queen’s speech so it is impossible for it to be explicitly ruled out, however “not going to happen” is a fairly clear signal.)
Nick Clegg has made the right decision for our economy, for internet security and for our freedom.
Data analytics is nothing new, with all kinds of organisations around the world trying to join-the-dots of all the data they hold and the swathes of data available online, much of it being published by individuals with little thought to the full range of people who might be trawling through cyberspace for nuggets of relevant information.
Yesterday’s Observer and today’s Metro lead with the story about Raytheon, the world’s fifth largest defence contractor, and a product currently being developed that can ‘gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.’
As we have warned before, privacy as we know it is being slowly eroded and it’s not just our friends that are looking at what we share.
Today’s Daily Mail reports on the latest NHS database plan, which will see information held in GP’s surgeries being extracted and transferred to a new central system.
The agenda in the NHS to share data is far more than just monitoring how heath services are used. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end for patient privacy in the NHS.
Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University, told the paper: ‘Under these proposals, medical confidentiality is, in effect, dead and there is currently nobody standing in the way.’
Today’s announcement from the Health Secretary that all patient medical records will be held in electronic form by 2018 has grabbed some headlines, but the underlying privacy risks seem to have been given short shrift.
Paperless records is a nice soundbite but the change creates significant privacy risks. The Department of Health needs to be absolutely clear who will hold our medical records, who can access them and reassure patients that their privacy will not be destroyed in another NHS IT blunder.
Detail on how patients will give their consent, who will have access and what rights patients will have after sharing is sparse. As we have previously highlighted, barely any NHS systems have the ability to give patients the option of seeing who has looked at their medical records. Without this audit trail, abuse is often very difficult to spot.
The Prüm Treaty may yet be implemented in the UK as a report shows that the European Commission plans to force the UK to allow other member states access to personal details of every motorist in Britain as well as access to the national DNA database and fingerprint records.
The Home Secretary has indicated that she is minded to opt out of the European Home Affairs Injustice measures in 2014, a step that would enable a full and frank discussion on how to sufficiently protect the rights of UK citizens. We can now hope that the Home Secretary will share the same robustness towards the European Commission on this matter.