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”
Today’s Daily Telegraph reports on the ‘rush’ from public bodies to gain access to the data collected under the Home Office’s Communications Data Bill.
According to information uncovered by Big Brother Watch, “Council staff, health and safety inspectors and even Royal Mail want to harness the Government’s proposed “Snoopers’ Charter” to monitor private emails, telephone records and internet use.”
As soon as the details of what websites we look at and who we communicate with online is stored, it’s a honey pot of information that every bureaucrat, hacker and rogue government is going to try and gain access to.
New research published today by Big Brother Watch/ComRes finds that the majority of the British public are concerned about their online privacy (68%) with nearly a quarter (22%) saying that they are very concerned.
People are more likely to say that consumers are being harmed by big companies gathering large amounts of their personal data for internal use (46%) than they are to say that this enhances consumer experiences (18%).
A clear majority (66%) of the British public say that national regulators should be doing more to force Google to comply with existing European Directives on privacy and the protection of personal data
The latest Google privacy debacle comes courtesy of Dan Nolan, an Australian app-developer,who has found he’s being sent personal information – without users ever giving permission for him to have it.
Dan spotted the issue when he logged into his ‘merchant’ section of his Google Play account and saw how for every customer who bought the app on Google play, he knew exactly who. “If you bought the app on Google Play (even if you cancelled the order) I have your email address, your suburb, and in many instances your full name.”
This is a relatively simple situation. You give your personal information to the Google App store, and Google – without explicitly asking you – hands it over to the developer of the app. There’s no explicit notification, no request to transmit the data.
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.
In a landmark legal action, a group of Apple customers in the UK are suing Google for deliberately snooping on them, after Google despite setting their iPhone security to say they did not want to be tracked.
You can find out more and join the legal action here
The much publicised Safari tracking episode resulted in a $22.5m fine from the FTC in America, however no penalty has been handed out by the UK’s Information Commissioner. When consumers see their private data being harvested on an industrial scale, with little reaction from the regulators, it is little wonder that they react by taking legal proceedings into their own hands.