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
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
Three weeks today, Sergeant Danny Nightingale will report to the Military Court Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire for a preparatory hearing. This is as a result of the Service Prosecuting Authority exercising its right to seek a re-trial of Sgt Nightingale.
Like many people, Big Brother Watch has been dismayed at the treatment of Sgt Nightingale. Despite his conviction being quashed at the Court of Appeal,
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
Following the publishing of the ICO’s annual report this morning, the European Parliament has approved reforms to the Commission’s Data Protection Directive of 1995. These are designed to give more control to individuals over any information held on them by organisations and companies, as well as placing a responsibility on those bodies to inform people of any data breaches which occur involving their personal information.
Axel Voss, the German MEP, wrote the report for the European Parliament, which had demanded more accountability from businesses with regards to data breaches. E.U. citizens will now be able to delete, correct or block their information easily.
The EU Justice Commisioner, Viviane Reding, claimed: “Putting people back in control of their personal data is a priority for me.”
By the end of the year the European Commission is expected to finalise new legislation to dramatically modernise European data protection rules.
At Big Brother Watch, we have long warned about the pernicious nature of the European Arrest Warrant and how it can be misused to persecute those who have either commuted no crime at all or an offence so minor that international extradition would be inappropriate.
Alex Deane, a member of the Big Brother Watch Advisory Council has written to the Home Secretary in order to seek clarifications from her surrounding the case of Dr Migel-Angel Meizoso, a Spanish national whose extradition is currently being sought by his home nation:
“I am writing to draw your attention to the case of Dr. Miguel-Angel Meizoso, the Spanish citizen who has claimed political asylum on 27 June 2011. It is, of course, very unusual for an EU national to claim asylum; especially for someone who, like Dr. Meizoso, has lived in this country for the past 20 years. Furthermore, it is an EU mechanism – the European Arrest Warrant – that he is asking protection from.
“We at Big Brother Watch are gravely concerned about the EAW regime and other threats to civil liberties arising from the European Union. We welcome the fact that the government has recognised that EAW system is open to abuse and commissioned the independent review led by Sir Scott Baker.
“In these circumstances, it is my view that Dr. Meizoso’s case raises issues of great public importance, and the Big Brother Watch intends to follow it closely. We are confident that you will give his asylum claim a fair and careful consideration.”
We will keep you in touch with this case, including the response we receive from the Home Secretary Theresa May MP.
It is expected that the EU data protection watchdogs will tell the European Commission that the location data stored by mobile phones should be considered personal data, and therefore receive a high level of protection. If accepted by the Commission, it is highly likely that provisions will be written into the Data Protection Directive later on in the year for the protection of location-based data.
This advice follows worrying reports that mobiles such as the iPhone and those containing Google’s Android interface store location data in an unencrypted manner, allowing potential hackers to see all your movements for the preceding months or even years.
The New York Times has reported that the Article 29 working party will explain its findings this Friday, where it is highly likely their report will contain opinions about geographic locations. This body contains regulators of data protection from all 27 member countries, operating independently of the Commission to avoid any conflict of interest.
Matthew Newman, a spokesman for the Commission's vice president Viviane Reding, said that protecting personal data obtained through new technologies was a priority for the Commission. Reding is leading a review of European privacy laws. Newman said:
"The Commission is currently analysing all forms of new technology and we will take into consideration social network sites and the rise of data-sharing like photos and the use of cloud computing and behavioural advertising when we reform the Data Protection Directive later this year.
"The technology has moved on in leaps and bounds since the Directive came into force more than 15 years ago, so what we want to do is see how people are using the technologies and how that relates to personal data to make sure that people's fundamental rights are protected.”
Location data from your mobile phone is self evidently personal data and should be treated as such in law. It's just a shame it's the EU, not Westminster who are stepping up to take action on this issue.
Commenting on the report, Big Brother Watch Director Daniel Hamilton said:
"The Coalition has some real achievements to speak off.
"Ministers should be congratulated for taking steps to scrap ID cards and remove the profiles of the one million innocent people held on the national DNA database. They should also be praised for doing away with the ContactPoint database of children’s details and reforming the criminal record check regime.
"They do, however, have more work to do.
"Police stop and search powers remain in place, Control Orders remain virtually unreformed and there has been no opt-out from the European Arrest Warrant. When it comes to E-Borders, the Summary Care Record and Intercept Modernisation Programme, they have continued to implement the previous government’s policies – warts and all."
In a potentially worrying new development EU counter-terrorism director Oliver Luyckx has called for a new EU-wide intelligence agency, aimed at becoming a “one-stop shop for information sharing”.
The EU already has instruments such as the European Arrest Warrant that demand compulsory extradition, with Baroness Ashton acting as the EU’s High Representative for Security Policy and Foreign Affairs.
Luyckz’s demand for a new powerful EU terrorism division would see the creation of a massive new agency, forcing Britain’s MI5 and MI6 to share its information on citizens with this new EU counterpart that would see the merger of EU security bodies including Frontex, Europol, Eurojust and Cosi. It could become the largest and most powerful counter-terrorism unit ever since in Europe, with information on British citizens being easier to access by foreign security agencies than ever before.
Long-standing Big Brother Watch supporter Lord Vinson has been active in Parliament this week on the issue of the European Arrest Warrant. In the exchange below, he questioned the Home Office Minister Pauline Neville-Jones on the compatibility of the EAW with the age-old concept of habeas corpus.
Lord Vinson: To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent the European Arrest Warrant and European Investigation Order conform with the principle of habeas corpus.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The UK’s transposition of the European arrest warrant complies fully with the concept of habeas corpus. UK implementation of the European investigation order will also be fully compliant.However, I understand that the noble Lord’s principal concern is the separate issue of European arrest warrants being issued for trivial offences. The Government share this concern and are talking to other EU countries, bilaterally and through the European Union, to stop this happening.
Lord Vinson: I thank the Minister for her considered reply, but I am not as optimistic. The fact remains that hundreds of UK citizens are being compelled to appear before any EU court without the merit of the often frivolous charges being first assessed. They can be locked up without pre-trial. Is she not concerned that this totally overrides the ancient liberties of the British citizen enshrined in Magna Carta and habeas corpus? Will she assure the House that this will be resolved?
Three member states of the EU have already declared the European arrest warrant unconstitutional. We should do the same. It really is time that we started to say no to damaging EU legislation.
The many and varied problems with the EAW are discussed at length in the new Big Brother Watch book which can be purchased here.
The recent, sad and untimely death of Lord Bingham, KG, one of this country's finest jurists, calls for a reflection on the importance of the rule of law, about which he wrote so recently. Most importantly, what lessons can we learn from three decades in which Lord Bingham sat as a judge?
It is right to speak with pride of the legacy of Britain's common law system. Its principles are the foundation of legal system throughout the world protecting the individual against the State. The common law experience shows the merit of laws derived not from the codification of abstract principles but through the resolution of real conflicts and disputes. Yet anyone who watched the BBC's brilliant Garrow's Law will have had an insight into how little protection was trial by jury in a world without a fair police force, thorough investigation and strict rules of evidence and disclosure. As we all know, the experiences of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four demonstrated how inadequate protection against such abuses lived on into the late 20th century.
The recent general election again brought into the fore debate about the effects of the Human Rights Act 1998 ('the HRA') and the European Convention on Human Rights ('the ECHR') it incorporated. As a criminal barrister, though, I would rather start with one of the finest pieces of legislation of the 20th century, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 ('PACE'). It is through this Act that suspects' interviews must be tape recorded, identification parades held and evidence obtained through oppression excluded. These parts of the criminal justice process may not appear particularly important to a layman but they are critical. Fine principles are toothless without carefully drafted rules (whether from statute or case law) to ensure a process that appears fair isn't corrupted at critical stages, leading to injustice at best but at worst the imprisonment of the innocent for years, even decades.