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Big Brother Watch

Ideas to start the debate and reform surveillance

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCDP, Civil Liberties, Communications Data Bill, Data Protection, Databases, Europe, International, Internet freedom, Mastering the Internet, Online privacy, PRISM, RIPA, Surveillance, Terrorism Legislation, United States | 1 Comment

Dear Prime Minister, cc Deputy Prime Minister; Chair – ISC;  Chair – Home Affairs committee; Chair – Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill; Chair – LIBE Committee of the European Parliament; Chair – Joint Committee on Human Rights; Yesterday you said that you would be happy to listen to ideas to improve the oversight and operation of safeguards concerning our intelligence agencies. This is an extremely welcome and timely intervention, and an offer that we would like to …

Legal justification for Miranda detention deeply flawed

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Civil Liberties, Judicial review, Legal Action, Police, Terrorism Legislation | 6 Comments

Writing in today’s Guardian, Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor who helped introduce the Terrorism Act 2000, has laid bare the increasingly clear case that the police acted unlawfully in detaining David Miranda under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. “The Terrorism Act defines a terrorist as someone “involved in committing preparing or instigating acts of terrorism”. Miranda is plainly not committing or preparing acts of terrorism.” At stake is not only a procedural check but the fundamental principle …

SOCA and the blue-chip private investigators

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Data Protection, Information Commissioner, Police, Privacy, Surveillance | 1 Comment

Earlier in the year we published a report on the growing use of private investigators by local and public authorities, warning that they were being used without RIPA authorisation. Now the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is facing serious calls for it to publish its list of companies and individuals who used corrupt private investigators to obtain personal information. Attempting to keep this information secret will rightly be seen as an attempt to cover up SOCAs colossal failure to enforce …

Press comment: NSA spying, GCHQ and Prism

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Information Commissioner, International, Internet freedom, Surveillance, United States | 6 Comments

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “There are legal processes to request information about British citizens using American services and if they are being circumvented by using these NSA spying arrangements then that would be a very serious issue.   “The wider legal authority of the surveillance that the US Government has been undertaking is being disputed by very senior figures and it is essential that questions are asked at the highest levels …

Who decides what we can see online?

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Internet freedom | 8 Comments

Today, along with the Open Rights Group, English PEN and Index on Censorship, we have signed a letter to Culture Secretary Maria Miller highlighting our concerns about the current debate around ‘blocking’ internet content. It is absolutely right to pursue the removal of illegal content from the internet, but moving to a system where legal content is blocked poses a clear and significant risk to freedom of speech. The triviality of circumventing blocks aside, such a policy risks blocking legitimate …

When the facts don’t fit your argument for snooping, just make them up

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCDP, Civil Liberties, Communications Data Bill, Protection of Freedoms Bill, Surveillance | 21 Comments

In today’s Times, Nick Herbert MP has written an article calling for the return of the Communications Data Bill. Although it’s not clear he has read it. As copyright law prohibits us from reproducing the entire article, we have had to pick and choose which errors to reproduce here. Which has proved tricky, as most of the article is wrong or misleading in some way. “Clever use of surveillance technology doesn’t recruit terrorists; it puts them in jail To claim …

Yet more Communications Data Bill confusion

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCDP, Civil Liberties, Communications Data Bill, Privacy, Surveillance, Technology | 2 Comments

During the debate about the Communications Data Bill, one of the points we repeatedly made was that while this bill was not about reading the contents of messages, but that the details of who you communicate with were still incredibly private information. In the aftermath of the atrocity in Woolwich, The Prime Minister was absolutely right to warn against knee-jerk reactions. Sadly, various voices have called for the legislation to be revived, despite widespread criticism from two Parliamentary committees and …

Woolwich and Communications Data

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCDP, Civil Liberties, Communications Data Bill, Online privacy, Privacy, Surveillance | 2 Comments

Deputy Director Emma Carr has contributed this piece to Index on Censorship’s website. John Reid and others’ attempt to make a political argument about “essential” legislation just hours after the brutal murder in Woolwich this week was remarkable, given how little was known at the time and the fact the victim’s family had not even been informed of his death. Yes, it is right to examine how our security services could have been aided to prevent the horrific scenes we …

What’s in an IP address?

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCDP, Civil Liberties, Online privacy, Privacy, Surveillance, Technology | 7 Comments

While the Communications Data Bill has scrapped, the one issue that remains live is the ‘resolution of IP addresses’ – particularly where mobile phone operators may have millions of customers using just a few hundred IP addresses. Deputy Director Emma Carr appeared on the Daily Politics yesterday to discuss the issue. An IP address is (put simply) the address you access the internet through (although ways of masking this are nothing new nor particularly technically challenging). We think it reasonable …

Patients win choice of sharing medical records

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Data Protection, Databases, Featured, NHS, Privacy | 11 Comments

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 …