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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

Lifting the Lid: Number of councils installing chips in bins rises by 62 per cent

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Privacy | 23 Comments

Research conducted by Big Brother Watch reveals that there are now 68 local authorities secreting microchips in the bins of residents, up from 42 a year earlier

Top lines from the research (the full report with a complete breakdown of local authorities with bin microchips is available here) include:

  • 68 local authorities in Britain and Northern Ireland have installed microchips in the rubbish bins of at least 2.6 million households.
  • A previous FOI survey from March 2009 found that 42 local authorities had installed microchips in their residents’ bins, which equates to a 62 per cent rise in just 12 months.
  • Bristol in the only local council in Britain to agree to pilot one of the Government’s "pay-as-you-throw" schemes in the twelve months that they have been on offer, but several local councils are quietly installing the infrastructure with which to monitor our waste habits, ready for a political and public climate that is more amenable to bin microchips.

Research conducted by Big Brother Watch has revealed that 68 local councils in Britain have placed microchips in the bins of at least 2.6 million households. When a similar study was conducted 12 months ago, only 42 councils admitted to having placed microchips in their residents’ rubbish bins. Only one local authority has yet come forward to pilot one the Government’s “pay-as-you-throw” schemes in the year that they have been on offer, which strongly suggests that councils are preparing the technology at significant cost, ready for when the government announces a nationwide roll-out of charging for what the British public throw away.   

Lifting the Lid analyses the privacy implications and cost to householders of installing a network of bin microchips, before providing a definitive list of those local authorities that have installed the intrusive technology.

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said:

“The number of local councils placing microchips in bins is increasing, despite the fact that only one of them has volunteered to trial the Government’s ‘pay-as-you-throw’ scheme.

Councils are waiting until the public aren’t watching to begin surveillance on our waste habits, intruding into people’s private lives and introducing punitive taxes on what we throw away.

The British public doesn’t want this technology, these fines or this intrusion. If local authorities have no intention to monitor our waste then they should end the surreptitious installation of these bin microchips.”

To read the full report, which includes detailed information on every local authority, please click here.

One big joined up surveillance system, everywhere… the future of CCTV?

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCTV | 8 Comments

Star An intriguing and worrying story over at Malaysia's The Star today – the country's Home Ministry wants to pool CCTV video feeds from many different sources to create a visual database,

to better monitor undesirable activities.

The Home Ministry wants to take footage from CCTV cameras run by agencies under the Transport Ministry and local authorities such as Kuala Lumpur City Hall, as well as private firms to monitor security and traffic flow, and use of all these CCTV feeds as well as their crime-spotting CCTV to counter crime.

The Ministers for Transport, Local Government, Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing have all signed off on the plan.


by Alex Deane

First, they came for the Muslim

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Body Scanners | 36 Comments

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)[4] As you may have read, two Muslim women refused to go through full-body scanners at Manchester Airport this week.

My support for them has seen the Big Brother Watch mailbag swell with abuse, and we've had some pretty tasty phone calls, too (all pretty much along the lines of the charming comments left over at the Daily Mail website). I suppose that this is bound to happen at some point with an organisation like ours, but it's the first time for us, so it's had a particular impact.

To state the obvious; I'm not supporting these women because they're Muslims. I don't care what they are. I would stand up for anyone in this situation. If the first people to refuse to be scanned said they were Jedi, or a made up religion like Scientology, then I'd be on their side. Because I don't think that anyone should be compelled to go through the scanners.

I note with interest that one of the women refused to go through the scanner for medical reasons – well, given that the government has made compulsory for fliers that which the best available guidance says is dangerous, I think that that should not be discounted.

But to my mind the main issue is the significant – and unjustifiable – intrusion into private lives, the extension yet again of power by the state over the life of the individual. I've made my position on this clear elsewhere and all I'd add is that, people still constantly say – "well, if it makes us a little safer, it's worth it" – "if it saves one life, stops one crime…" – I spend a lot of time pointing out just what a specious argument that is. Plainly, it would "save one child" to ban the motor car, or introduce a night curfew, but we don't, because it would be disproportionate and we have to get on with normal life, even if we incur a slightly higher element of risk in doing so. We don't encourage people to take wild risks with cars, but we don't make liberty-reducing and disproportionate laws, either. We should react to the threat of terrorism in just the same way. .

People are understandably afraid of terrorism. But as I've said before, we didn’t allow the IRA to impede our freedoms or change our way of life to anything like the degree we are changing now. Those upset by the prospect of undergoing these scans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their dignity and their flight. What kind of a free society does the Government think it is “protecting”, when it invades our privacy like this? When we are forced to expose ourselves at the airport in order to go on holiday, the terrorists have won.

If you are not free, I am not free.

By Alex Deane

Body scanner refuseniks

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Body Scanners | 25 Comments

Bodyscan Two Muslim women who refused to go through the full-body scanners at Manchester Airport have become the first people to be prevented from flying after raising objections to this intrusive new technology.

As you may have read, Big Brother Watch has offered to help them fight this decision in court should they wish to challenge the ruling.

As a result of this, a supporter has been in touch to highlight a very strange passage of text from the Department for Transport's January 2010 document, 'Interim Code of Practice for the Acceptable Use of Advanced Imaging Technology (Body Scanners) in an Aviation Security Environment' (available here).

The policy must include a requirement that the equipment is sited in such a way to ensure that the Security Officer(s) conducting analysis of the image (the screener) must not be able to see the person whose image they are viewing and the Security Officer(s) resolving any issues identified by the body scanner should not be able to see the image of the person being searched. A person selected for scanning may request that the screen reader is of the same sex as the person. (p.3)

Can anyone spot the catch-22?

In order to protect our privacy the DfT wants to prevent the 'screener' from being able to see the 'screenee'. Yet the DfT has also said that we are entitled to request that the screener is of our same gender.

In practice this is completely contradictory and simply can't work. Therefore I can only assume that if I, for example, was to make the request, the airport authorities would assure me that the screener was also male and it would be up to me to take them at their word.

So they're relying on our trust…bit late for that methinks.

By Dylan Sharpe

Think the ID card’s gone away? Think again

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in ID cards | 5 Comments

Dominique 2 crop Dominique Lazanski is an experienced digital consultant and a regular writer and commentator on Internet policy and regulation from a free market perspective. She has over 10 years of experience in Silicon Valley with spells at Yahoo! and Apple and has spent the last several years in London as a consultant to the music industry and media agencies.

I have been a resident of the UK since 2005, having emigrated here from the USA – my home country.  At first I was a graduate student, then -according to the Home Office – a highly-skilled migrant worker.  Recently I married a UK citizen and I had to renew my visa for the fourth time in 4 years.  This time, the situation is different.  No longer do I have a ‘vignette’ sticker in my passport. Instead, I have been compelled to have a UK ID card which holds my biometrics and visa.  I have to carry both my passport and my ID when I travel in and out of the country.

This compulsion is due to changes to the UK Borders Act of 2007 ‘updating’ the original act.  In 2009 a provision was added allowing the Secretary of State to demand an immigrant’s biometrics.  From the convoluted and obtuse language contained in the updated text, it appears that if the Secretary of State requests a record of biometrics from an immigrant, say me, when I am at a random location, say an airport, then I need to give it to him.  How do I give him a record of my biometrics? – by handing over my ID card.

The law states (though not clearly) that:

(6) Regulations under subsection (1)(b) may, in particular, require the production or other use of a biometric immigration document that is combined with another document; and section 16 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 (c. 15) (prohibition of requirement to produce ID card) is subject to this subsection.

Roughly translated: the Government seems to think that this means it's now OK to force ID cards on immigrants. This is troubling on so many levels, but there are two points in particular here.  First, since the ID card is required for all non-EU immigrants, then it is a very small step to mandate them for all citizens and residents of the UK.  Secondly, and more importantly, the revision of the UK Borders Act of 2007 provides for the Secretary of State to have more power to mandate laws directly, thereby bypassing the need for legislation to be passed by Parliament.  We have already seen such power introduced in the Digital Economy Bill, but we are now experiencing that power through this backhanded introduction of compulsory ID Cards.  These ever-increasing powers of the Secretary of State are far more dangerous and more widespread than we could ever have imagined.  Perhaps the Secretary of State will be our real ‘big brother’!

Related link: previous post from this guest author

Media Coverage – March 2010

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | Comments Off
 For all media enquiries please call: 07538 28 00 41 (24 hrs)

31st March

The Sun – Great-gran is tagged…for selling a goldfish

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, added: “The judge should be ashamed. There is simply no justification for putting an electronic tag and a night-time curfew on a 66 year-old woman for this non-crime.

“There are many better ways of sorting out bad pet shops than lengthy prosecutions that waste time and taxpayers’ money.

“This decision criminalises someone who has never committed an offence before, yet serial offenders seem to get away with dozens of crimes before being punished so severely.”

talkSPORT – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Adrian Goldberg

Hounslow Chronicle – West Mids insists patient data not at risk

Burnley Express – Fears over privacy of patient records in Lancashire

Pendle Today – Fears over privacy of patient records in Lancashire

Longridge and Ribble Valley Advertiser – Fears over privacy of patient records in Lancashire

Leyland Guardian – Fears over privacy of patient records in Lancashire

clitheroe Advertiser and Guardian – Fears over privacy of patient records in Lancashire

30th March

BBC News – Children must go through airport scanners, says Adonis

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said: “It beggars belief that the government is to force young children through these body scanners.

“Only last week a security guard was exposed as having abused the technology. How many more cases like that do we need before the transport secretary admits that the operators have not had sufficient training and vetting to handle this technology?

“Security minister Lord West admits that the scanners are only 50-60% effective, so why risk giving perverts and those looking to make a fast buck the opportunity to spy on us?”

East Anglian Daily Times – Cost of council’s CCTV cameras attacked

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, which is affiliated to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “To spend £250,000 on an intrusive CCTV network when councils are trying to trim their spending and essential services are feeling the pinch is a disgraceful waste of money.

“When the Metropolitan Police have admitted that only one crime is solved for every 1,000 cameras, it is clear that this is money being wasted on CCTV which could have gone towards improving front-line policing.

“Questions need to be answered as to why St Edmundsbury has spent so much and placed so much faith in surveillance in comparison to the surrounding areas.”

LBC 97.3 FM – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Nick Ferrari

Richmond and Twickenham Times – Nearly 350 non-medical workers have access to confidential patient records at West Middlesex Hospital, Big Brother Watch finds

29th March

The Times – Go-ahead for ‘paperless’ NHS records

Last week a survey by the privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch claimed that as many as 140,000 non-medical staff, including porters and housekeepers, already have access to patient files in England and that it would become even easier to access records when they are stored on the new NHS database.

Daily Express – Sneaky flying spy cameras provoke civil liberty fears

Pressure groups yesterday warned the step was being taken without the consent or support of the public and risked transforming Scotland into a “surveillance state”.

Alex Deane, of Big Brother Watch, said: “It’s pretty scary that more and more police forces are considering using these.

“They invade our privacy and are being brought in without proper public consultation or support. We need a proper debate about the use of this type of surveillance and its effect on civil liberties before the police start to use these devices.”

Scottish Sun – Skyway Patrol

The move was last night slammed by civil liberty groups. Big Brother Watch chief Dylan Sharpe said: “Spy drones that are invisible to the man on the street breach the Data Protection Act.”

Bucks Free Press – Government ‘to blame for CCTV and defecation sign’ in High Wycombe

Steve Baker, prospective parliamentary candidate for Wycombe, spoke after an anti-CCTV sticker was placed on the lamppost in Frogmoor by a supporter of campaign group Big Brother Watch.

Wigan Evening Post – Fears over patients’ records

Deadline Scotland – Scottish police to use spy planes

28th March

Sunday Express – Snoopers check we don’t split atoms

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said 20,000 town hall officials have the right of entry.

“In the end every house will have something about it that means officials can gain access to your home,” he said.

27th March

Oxford Mail – Call to strengthen confidentiality of NHS records

Privacy campaigners last night called for a cut in the number of health workers who can access your personal records.

The call came after the Oxford Mail learned 2,000 non-medical employees – including administration staff and receptionists – can see the files.

The statistics were revealed by privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.

Nursing Times – Claims over safety of confidential patient records dismissed

Security Architecture – Better access restrictions needed for medical information

Friday 26th March

BBC News – Non-medical staff ‘have access to health records’

At least 100,000 non-medical staff in NHS trusts have access to confidential patient records, claim campaigners.

Big Brother Watch, who based the figure on 151 responses from trusts, said it demonstrated “slack security”. 

Sky News – Abuse Fears Over Access To Patients’ Records

Figures acquired by Big Brother Watch reveal hospital receptionists, housekeepers and even porters are able to access the confidential records without permission.

On average, 723 non-medical staff in each NHS trust surveyed have direct access to private health records.

Sky Sunrise – Alex Deane interviewed by Eamonn Holmes

Daily Mail – NHS porters and cleaners can snoop on your medical records

Among those who replied, the University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust said those with access included 107 porters and 105 receptionists. At Cwm Taf NHS Trust the total included receptionists, housekeepers and domestic staff.

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said the Government needed to address the problem as a matter of urgency. He said: ‘The number of non-medical personnel with access to confidential medical records leaves the system wide open to abuse.’

Daily Telegraph – 100,000 non-clinical NHS staff have access to confidential records

Daily Telegraph – HMRC officers to get powers to open people’s post without asking permission

Civil liberties campaigners were appalled about the increased powers. Alex Deane, a spokesman for Big Brother Watch, said: “This is a dreadful development. The post has always been regarded as near-sacrosanct in law.

“The last time our mail was opened by the authorities without notice, our country was fighting a World War. I hardly think that the situation produced by the government’s tobacco tax compares.

“Once the principle of opening our mail has been accepted, what else will the Government use as an excuse to pry into our post?”

The Scotsman – Patient records ‘open to prying eyes’

BBC News Wales – Patient medical data ‘too open’ in Cardiff NHS

Redbridge Guardian – Trust silent over access to patient records

Northampton Chronicle – NGH defends medical records access policy

BBC Merseyside – Dros 2,000 o staff yn gallu gweld manylion cleifion

Public Service – Porters have access to health records

WebMD – Thousands ‘have access’ to confidential patient records

Pulse – Care record confusion as patients told to opt out twice

OnMedica – Porters have ‘access’ to medical records

inthenews.co.uk – Campaigners claim 100,000 non-medical staff can access NHS records

BBC Breakfast


BBC Radio Northampton

BBC Radio Ulster

BBC 3CR Luton

BBC Radio Wales

BBC Radio Tees

BBC Radio Gloucestershire

BBC Radio Foyle

BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey

East Coast FM

Real Radio Wales 105-106FM

ConservativeHome – Broken Records

LBC 97.3 FM – Abuse Fears Over Access To Patients’ Records

Yahoo News – NHS staff ‘can access records’

25th March

Daily Express – Teachers leave boy of 5 stuck up tree for 1 hour

Alex Deane, director of campaigning group Big Brother Watch, said: “Any teacher faced with a crying five-year- old stuck up a tree should ignore the pathetic guidelines.

“The poor woman who helped the child should be given a medal, not prosecuted. The school should feel ashamed for reporting her.

“Usually stories like this are the fault of stupid rules. This time, it’s down to both stupid rules and stupid staff.”

Lancashire Telegraph – ‘Leering’ row over body scans

And after details emerged of the Heathrow incident yesterday, Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “When privacy-invading machines like these are installed at our airports, abuses like this are inevitable.”

Daily Mail – I was ogled on a ‘naked’ airport scanner: Heathrow colleague faces the sack

Metro – Police quiz airport body scan ‘ogler’

24th March

The Sun – ‘I love those gigantic t**s’

Critics of the body scanners had warned of just such an abuse.

Barrister Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “When privacy-invading machines are installed at our airports, abuses like this are inevitable.

“We are disturbed to hear of this case, which will lead to greater calls for these scanners to be banned.

“For every official caught ogling like this, there are plenty more eyeing up law-abiding travellers. These expensive machines are totally disproportionate.”

LBC 97.3FM – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Nick Ferrari

Evening Standard – Heathrow guard ‘used scanner to leer at colleague’s naked body’

Alex Deane interviewed by BBC Radio Surrey and Sussex

Alex Deane interviewed by BBC Radio London

Daily Mail – Police quiz airport X-ray security worker ‘who used naked body scanner to leer at colleague’

The Register – Heathrow security man cops perv scanner eyeful

Independent – Heathrow worker ‘ogled colleague on scanner’

Golwg360 – Gweithiwr maes awyr ‘wedi llygadu cydweithiwr ar sganiwr’

Alex Deane interviewed by Talk Radio Europe

Alex Deane interviewed on Radio New Zealand

Security Oracle – Airport Security Guard Quizzed Over Scanner Abuse Claims

AFP – Warning for man accused over airport breast X-ray

Reuters – Heathrow worker warned in scanner ogling claim

Eastern Times – Heathrow worker warned in scanner ogling claim

Yahoo News – Heathrow worker warned in scanner ogling claim

CheapFlights.co.uk – Full-body scanner operator ‘ogled colleague’

Airwise – UK airport worker warned in scanner ogling claim

IBN Live – Airport worker caught ogling using scanner

23rd March

Leith FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Graeme Logan

Recycle.co.uk – UK government amps up household recycling efforts

While the councils say that these are in place as a means to reward households recycling heavily, big brother watch believe that it is an infringement on privacy and could be used as a tool to monitor what people are throwing out.

22nd March

Alex Deane interviewed on GMTV

Wimbledon Guardian – Concern over image of semi-naked child on Google’s Street View

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “For many, Google’s Street View cameras are an upsetting invasion of privacy. People are not consulted before it arrives in their town and yet Google relies on the public to point out where they’ve gone wrong.

“Google needs to take greater responsibility for people’s personal privacy and introduce stronger safeguards to prevent a repeat of this incident.”

Hull Daily Mail – Wheelie bin chips will not be activated

Saturday 20th March

Daily Mail – Builders and driving instructors among one in five workers to be caught in frenzy of paedophile vetting

Alex Deane, of anti-surveillance pressure group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘The Government seems determined to stamp out volunteering in this country.

‘This database of nine million people is an intrusive and absurd initiative which will do irreparable damage to scouting, disability care, sports activities and a range of other charitable and volunteer organisations.’

Friday 19th March

CCTV (China Central Television) – Microchips in UK bins

Daily Express – Boy fined for dropping chips after attack

Campaign group Big Brother Watch condemned the move and offered to take up the mother’s legal battle.

Alex Deane, its director, said: “This could only happen in a target-driven, bureaucratic culture of overpowered jobsworths like ours today.

“The council has acted with no common sense or human feeling and should be ashamed.

“It should drop the fine and apologise and the petty warden who issued the fixed penalty notice should be fired.”

Last year Big Brother Watch gave legal advice to Vanessa Kelly, 26, from Oldbury, West Midlands, who was fined £75 by a council worker for feeding ducks with her 17-month-old son Harry. She forced the council to back down after an outcry over the petty fine.

BBC Surrey and Sussex – Alex Deane interviewed by Danny Pike

18th March

Daily Telegraph – Pensioners could be forced to show ID for bus travel

Alex Deane, a spokesman for civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: “Some people will resent this so much that to avoid ID cards they will stop taking the bus – perhaps that’s exactly the sort of budget saving Meg Hillier wants.

“Many people affected by this measure remember being coerced to carry their ID card during the War and the times of austerity which followed it.

“The end of that compulsory regime was a national relief and some of our supporters have expressed sadness that this bullying surveillance is coming back into fashion.”

Daily Mail – Could an ID card replace the bus pass for over-60s?

Lakeland Echo – £100k ‘wasted on big brother bins’

Lake Wales News – Passing garbage inspection

17th March

Daily Mail – Ashleigh Hall captured on Google Street View just weeks before she was killed by Facebook predator

Alex Deane, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘For many, Google’s Street View cameras are an upsetting invasion of privacy.

‘People are not consulted before it arrives in their town and yet Google relies on the public to point out where they have gone wrong.

‘Coming only days after a naked boy was also captured by their cameras, it is clear that Google needs to take greater responsibility for people’s personal privacy and introduce stronger safeguards to the system.’

Northern Echo – Row over Ashleigh on Google ‘spy site’

Sky News Online – Street View Removes Pic Of Murdered Teen

Northern Echo – Feature: A question of privacy

We instinctively support Big Brother Watch in calling for Google to introduce stronger safeguards. But we also accept that it is difficult to see what practical safeguards could be established.

Alex Deane interviewed by BBC Radio Newcastle

16th March

Daily Mail – Warning – your child is unfit: Parents of pupils who fail school fitness tests to get letters from health police

Dylan Sharpe, from campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘While it is important that children are fit and healthy, these proposed annual tests are yet more Government interference and yet more tests for a generation of children who are already constantly under assessment.’

Yorkshire Post – Time to get children on the move

Metro – Annual fitness tests for schoolchildren

LBC 97.3FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Kevin Maguire

Alex Deane guests on The Riz Khan show on al Jazeera English

Reading Post – ‘Chip and bin is a real intrusion’

A campaign group has lifted the lid on the 68 local authorities which have installed microchips in the refuse bins of their residents.

One of the 68 featured by Big Brother Watch is South Oxfordshire District Council, which has had the “chip and bin” scheme on its recyclable waste bins since last summer.

Recycle.co.uk – West Berkshire Will not Join the Microchip Wheelie Bin Bandwagon

15th March

eWeek Europe – New Street View Images Raise Privacy Concerns

Newbury Today – West Berkshire has no plans to introduce ‘bin brother’

A recently report published by Big Brother Watch, which promotes itself as a non-partisan organisation against intrusions in privacy, claims there has been a 62 per cent increase in the number of UK councils investing in the bins over the last year.

14th March

Daily Mail – Arrested by the egg police – for selling this 100-year-old chest of drawers

Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘The RSPB and Northumbria Police should be ashamed of themselves.

‘Jim is a law-abiding man whose life and business have been disrupted. They could have approached this case in a much more commonsense way.’

Daily Mail – Football coach told to turn ‘threatening’ Freedom or Death T-shirt inside out by airport security guards

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said it was yet another example of how paranoid we have been made by terrorism.

‘This is a sad example of the terrorism paranoia which increasingly affects every part of public life.

‘T-shirt slogans do not imply malicious intent and the pathetic security officers should have known better. After the intrusion and embarrassment of bodyscanning, one wonders how much more difficult airports can make leaving the country.’

13th March

Daily Mail – Google faces storm over naked child on Street View

Privacy campaigners slammed Google yesterday. Alex Deane, of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘Where there’s one example like this, there will be many others.’

A Google spokesman said: ‘We apologise for any inadvertent concern this may have caused.’

He said there were online tools so users could report inappropriate images immediately.

Daily Telegraph – Google Street View: internet search engine ‘apologises over part naked child images’

Lincolnshire Echo – Take a virtual tour of Lincoln on Google Street View

12th March

Daily Telegraph – Ed Balls orders crackdown on school admissions fraud

But Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, a campaign group, said: “The DCSF has an unjustifiable, disproportionately aggressive approach to this non-issue.

“How can they justify including in their absurdly heavy-handed recommendations for apprehending parents who just want the best for their children, building a bureaucratic surveillance system to watch families and encouraging communities to spy on each other?”

Alex Deane interviewed on BBC Radio Kent

Oxford Mail – Councils rubbish fears microchipped bins to be used to fine families

Sunderland Echo – Google Street View now offers a virtual tour of Wearside

Coventry Telegraph – Google StreetView to cover all Coventry and Warwickshire

Worcester News – Word on the streets is that we’re on Google

Exeter Express and Echo – Exeter homes on Google Street View

Herald Series – No plans to ‘pay-as-you-throw’

Witney Gazette – No plans to ‘pay-as-you-throw’

Tunbridge Wells People – Big Brother is Watching You

Newton Abbot People – Newton Abbot uncovered with Google Street View!

Weston-super-Mare People – Your Street Now Online For Nation To See Thanks To Google

BirminghamRecycled – ‘Pay-as-you-throw’ could be coming soon

11th March

Alex Deane interviewed on BBC South East Today

Daily Telegraph – Google Street View goes nationwide in Britain

Campaigner Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, is concerned about the privacy implications of Street View after a number of people contacted him with their concerns.

“When it arrives somewhere for the first time, those who are concerned about being captured should check it to see if they or their property are now on worldwide public view.

Cotswold Journal – ‘No’ to pay as you throw

A FIRM promise not use the microchips in 39,500 Cotswold bins as a ‘pay as you throw’ scheme has been made to residents – providing the district council is not forced to do so.

The announcement was made after a report from the organisation Big Brother Watch revealed that Cotswold District Council is one of 68 councils nationwide to install the controversial devices.

Metro – Google Street View set to go nationwide in UK

Campaigner Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, is concerned about the privacy implications of Street View after a number of people contacted him with their concerns.

He said: “For many, Google’s Street View cameras are an upsetting invasion of privacy. People tend not to be asked whether they are comfortable with it coming to their town.

Lancashire Telegraph – Wheelie bin claims are a load of rubbish

Now an organisation called Big Brother Watch (I wonder if they have alarms and security cameras at their headquarters?) is leading an offensive against the latest focus for the country’s increasingly paranoid masses – microchipped wheelie bins!

Gloucestershire Echo – Gloucestershire gets Googling on Street View

The Hinckley Times – Hinckley now up and running on Google Street View

BBC Radio Lincolnshire

BBC Radio Gloucestershire

BBC Radio Somerset

Paignton People – Discover more of Paignton with Street View

Lowestoft Journal – Wheelie bin claims rubbished

10th March

Daily Express – Sneaky anti-terror cameras used in war on the motorist

Director of Big Brother Watch Alex Deane, which campaigns against the surveillance society, said: “This confirms what every driver will have suspected – that ANPR cameras are about revenue raising, not law enforcement. This sneaky network is really just another tax.”

Bucks Free Press – Council could prosecute over anti-CCTV stickers in High Wycombe

COUNCIL chiefs said ‘big brother’ campaigners who leave anti-CCTV  stickers on camera poles could be prosecuted.

Wycombe District Council commented after the Big Brother Watch group published a photograph of one of its stickers on a pole in Frogmoor.

Lancashire Telegraph – Google Street View available in East Lancashire

 Alex Deane, director of pressure group Big Brother Watch, said: “For many, Google’s StreetView cameras are an upsetting invasion of privacy.

“People are not asked whether they are comfortable with it coming to their town.”

Harrow Times – Harrow Council hits out at bin spying claims by Big Brother Watch

Woking Informer – Big brother council watching your bins

Wales Online – Google street views go nationwide

Leith FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Graeme Logan

The Register – UK pol touts canine chip implants

redOrbit – British Plan Calls For Microchipping Of All Dogs

Switched – U.K. to Muzzle Dangerous Dogs With Microchips and Pet Insurance

Kansas City Star – Mandatory insurance proposed for UK dogs

The Huffington Post – Pet Microchips Could Be Mandatory In Britain’s Canine Crackdown

Daily Contributor – Britain Wants to Microchip Dogs

9th March

Daily Express – All dogs to be insured by law

Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “We have managed to own dogs in this country for hundreds of years without any tax policy.

“There’s a reason why the saying is ‘One man and his dog’ and not ‘One man, his dog and his third-party liability’. I think this is absurd and completely disproportionate.”

Daily Mail – How just 0.3% of solved crimes are due to DNA database

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said the report called into question the Government’s claims about the effectiveness of the database. ‘The Prime Minister is clearly wrong and is yet again guilty of publishing bogus statistics,’ he added.

Alex Deane, director of campaigners Big Brother Watch, said: ‘The case for further expansion of the database has been exposed as being totally unjustified.’

Sky News – Parents Angry Over CCTV In School Toilets

Dylan Sharpe from Big Brother Watch told Sky News: “Children are entitled to privacy like anyone else.

“We’re raising a generation of children accustomed to being constantly watched and monitored, whether cameras are switched on or not.”

Bucks Free Press – Privacy fears over ‘bugged’ bins in South Bucks

The Spectator – The DNA database con

Associated Press – Britain could force owners to microchip their dogs

“This is yet more surveillance and continuous data-grabbing by government who want to have as much information on us as it can possibly have,” said Dylan Sharpe, a campaigner with privacy rights group Big Brother Watch. Opposition lawmaker Nick Herbert said the proposal risked “penalizing millions of law-abiding dog owners with the blunt instrument of a dog tax.”

The Visitor – The spy in your bin

The Daily Caller – Britain
could force owners to microchip their dogs

San Francisco Examiner – Britain could force owners to microchip their dogs

Staines News – Spelthorne Council defends micro-chipping of bins

The New American – U.K. Trash Bins Secretly Implanted with Microchips

International Liberty – Orwellian Nightmare or Nanny State Run Amok?

Geek with Laptop – Londoners – your garbage may be watching you

8th March

Daily Telegraph – Hundreds more town hall staff to get police-style powers

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Those empowered by these schemes don’t have anything near the proper training, experience or respect to try and boss around members of the public.”

LBC 97.3FM – Alex Deane interviewed by David Mellor

Great Yarmouth Mercury – Wheelie bin claims rubbished

The Guardian – Waste watchers? UK group fears trash bin spies

Sunday 7th March

Sunday Express – Town Halls use terror laws to spy on staff

Alex Deane, of Big Brother Watch which campaigns to protect civil liberties, said: “If councils do this with their own staff, what are they like with the rest of us?”

eCanada Now – Over 2.6 million “Spy Chips” In UK Trashbins

BBC Radio 5Live – Alex Deane interviewed by John Pienaar 

Alternative Right – Big Brother Goes Green

The Dallas Morning News – Trash microchips could make British pay for waste

Saturday 6th March

The Scottish Sun – It’s Chip and Bin

THREE Scots councils have fitted household bins with electronic microchips which can track rubbish. Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Councils are waiting until the public aren’t watching to begin surveillance on our waste habits.”

Daily Telegraph – It’s time we talked rubbish

Privacy campaigners warned this week that 68 local councils now have microchip technology at their disposal – up from 42 last year – and 2.6 million bins across the nation already have the chips in place. According to the campaign group Big Brother Watch, this amounts to a “surreptitious” attempt to monitor our “waste habits” and intrude into our “private lives”. It will also lead to the possible introduction of “punitive taxes” for people who throw away large volumes of rubbish.

Huffington Post – ‘Spy Chips’ Hidden In 2.6 Million Trashbins Aim To Tax Those Who Toss Too Much

redOrbit – UK Privacy Group Says Gov’t Spying Through Trash Bins

La Montagne – Des puces mouchards

Las Vegas Review Journal – BIG BROTHER OF TRASH: Microchips in Britain trash bins monitor what?

The Seattle Times – Waste watchers? UK group fears trash bin spies

Belfast Telegraph – Big bin brother: microchips monitoring NI waste

5th March

BBC News (Video) – Warning of microchip bin council charges

BBC News – Warning of rise in microchips in council bins

Privacy campaigners claim increasing numbers of councils are gearing up for “pay as you throw” rubbish charges by installing microchips in wheelie bins.

The Big Brother Watch group says its survey found 68 UK authorities with the technology at their disposal – up from 42 last year – with chips in 2.6m bins.

Sky News – Councils Accused Over Big Brother Bin Tax

ITN News – Rise in ‘surreptitious’ use of bin microchips

Daily Mail – Spy chips hidden in 2.5 MILLION dustbins: 60pc rise in electronic bugs as council snoopers plan pay-as-you-throw tax

Yesterday, research by the Big Brother Watch campaign group showed that the use of chipped bins has quietly spread over the past year.

In March 2009, a survey based on Freedom of Information inquiries showed there were 42 councils which used bins with microchips. But the latest check, also based on FOI requests, put the number of authorities with electronic bins at 68 – one in five of all those that collect household rubbish.

Daily Express – ‘Spy’ microchips in bins of 3 million homes

The Guardian – Microchips in our bins herald pay as you throw tax

Guardian.co.uk – Rubbish Politics

Daily Telegraph – Number of councils installing microchips in bins jumps by 50pc in 12 months

Metro – 2.6million UK homes now have microchipped bins

Associated Press – Waste watchers? UK group fears trash bin spies

Yorkshire Post – Rise
in ‘surreptitious’ use of bin microchips criticised

Belfast Telegraph – More councils using bin microchips

Pendle Today – Big Brother is spying on your wheelie bins

Daily Post – Microchips to measure rubbish fitted to wheelie bins in Denbighshire

Western Mail – ‘Pay as you throw’ fear as councils plant spy microchips in our bins

Lancashire Post – Big Brother is spying on your wheelie bins

Liverpool Daily Post – More
councils using bin microchips

The Sentinel – So will microchips be put in our bins as stealth tax?

Express and Star – Number of microchips in bins up by a third

Gloucestershire Echo – Microchip bins move by Cotswold District Council sparks Big Brother accusations

Get Surrey – Household rubbish bins contain ‘intrusive’ microchips

Lancaster Guardian – Big Brother is spying on your wheelie bins

Oldham Evening Chronicle – Bin
chips slammed

Coventry Telegraph – More councils using bin microchips

Golwg360 – Cyhuddo cynghorau o gynlluniau i godi pris am wastraff

Rochdale Online – Bin chips slammed

Cheshire Online – More councils using bin microchips

Kable – Councils place microchips in bins

Public Service – Bin microchips are privacy intrusion

LocalGov – Council leaders defend microchip bins

24dash.com – Councils using microchips in rubbish bins ‘up by two thirds’

Ananova – Councils Accused Over ‘Big Brother Bin Tax’

Colorado NewsFirst 5 – Big Brother Monitoring Trash

Sun Herald – Waste watchers? UK group fears trash bin spies

San Francisco – Waste watchers? UK group fears trash bin spies

BBC Breakfast News

Sky Sunrise


ITN News at One

BBC Radio 5 Live 

BBC Radio 4 – Alex Deane interviewed on the Today Programme

BBC Television Wales

SunTalk – Alex Deane interviewed by Jon Gaunt

BBC Radio 2 – Jeremy Vine Show

BBC London Radio

BBC Radio Norfolk

BBC Radio Manchester

BBC Radio Gloucestershire

BBC Radio Luton

BBC Radio Surrey & Sussex

BBC Radio Tees

BBC Radio Essex

BBC Radio Ulster

BBC Radio Wales

BBC Radio Berkshire

BBC 3 Counties Radio

BBC Radio Merseyside

BBC Radio Northants

BBC Radio West Midlands

BBC Radio Humberside

BBC Radio Nottingham

TalkSport – Alex Deane interviewed by George Galloway

LBC 97.3FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Petrie Hoskin

Talk Radio Europe

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Point FM (Denbighshire)

4th March

SunTalk – Alex Deane interviewed by Jon Gaunt

The Sun – Muslim women in airport scan snub

Daily Express – Flight ban for Muslim pair who refused full-body scan

But civil liberties campaigners suggested the incident could form the basis of a legal test case to challenge the use of the Rapiscan device at airports.

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said his organisation would represent the women if they wished to challenge the decision in court.

He said: “People shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health, their faith, their dignity, or their privacy in order to fly. People with health and religious concerns shouldn’t be forced to go through these scanners if they have good reason not to. Foolishly, the Government has ignored both issues and ignored privacy concerns to boot. They are in the wrong on this.”

Metro – Flight ban for refusing body scan

Le Monde – Scanners Corporels: Deux femmes voilees refoulees

ADN.es – Dos
mujeres se niegan a pasar por escáner corporal de un aeropuerto

El abogado Alex Deane, de la
organización Big Brother Watch, una de las que se opone a este tipo de
control de seguridad, se ha ofrecido a representar a las dos mujeres
ante los tribunales.

“La gente no debería tener que sacrificar su
salud, su fe, su dignidad o su intimidad para poder volar”, dijo Deane.

The Australian – Muslim women refuse airport body scan

Turkish News – Full body airport scans in Britain

Computer Weekly – Is joined-up Govt possible? This may give the answer

3rd March

BBC Radio 5Live – Alex Deane interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire

Manchester Evening News – Muslim woman barred from flight for refusing ‘naked’ scan

However, civil liberties campaigners say the incident could form the basis of a legal test case to challenge the use of the Rapiscan device in airports.

Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said the organisation would represent the women if they wished to challenge the decision in court.

He said: “People shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health, their faith, their dignity, or their privacy in order to fly.

“People with health and religious concerns shouldn’t be forced to go through these scanners if they have good reason not to. Foolishly, the government has ignored both issues and ignored privacy concerns to boot – they are in the wrong on this.”

Daily Mail – Muslim women barred from flight for refusing ‘naked’ full-body scan

Tuesday 2nd March

Conservative Home – Soft on rapists?

There is undoubtedly a potential benefit to law enforcement from the retention of DNA samples taken from innocent people; in some cases, it will be a significant benefit. That, in and of itself, is no more than persuasive. It would be potentially helpful to law enforcement to have many things. A night curfew, for example, or a ban on alcohol.

Both of these things would assist with the maintenance of general order tremendously – certainly, more than the retention of DNA samples from innocent people. Both such policies would drive down crime. And yet this government has not enacted them. Does this mean that Gordon Brown is “soft on rapists”?

What not to do when you retire…

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in ID cards | 1 Comment

Retirement Last week we brought you the news that in advance of his first annual report, Sir Joseph Pilling – the UK Identity Commissioner – had given an interview to our old friend on the Manchester Evening News, Angela Epstein. As you will see from my blogpost, I was somewhat unhappy with the easy ride Pilling was afforded.

So, massive credit is due to Nicole Kobie at ITPRO Magazine for the pearls she has gleaned from her interview with the Commissioner, some of which I include below for your entertainment:

Q: You admit yourself in the report that you didn't know that much about the subject when you were picked for the job. Why do you think they picked you?

A: Who wants to drop what they're doing to take on a role that is only going to last for a matter of months? They were forced to have somebody as the ID commissioner, because by law they couldn't issue a card until they had a commissioner.

They solved the problem by coming to somebody like me, who wasn't actually looking for a job and didn't mind if the job actually continued or not. I'm so old and so past it that I didn't apply for the job and wouldn't have been willing to do it on a full-time basis, because I've got other things that I am committed to. 

I think one of the great joys of retirement is you have time to spend poking around in things you didn't have time for when you were working.

An old man who has chosen to spend his retirement presiding over the most intrusive and expensive system allowing our government to control its population ever conceived in Britain.

Do have a read of the full interview and realise just how much peril we are in!

By Dylan Sharpe

Council prevents display of Christian poster – new homework!

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | 5 Comments

Inspectors There seems now to be weekly cases of companies and councils getting cold feet when it comes to religious symbols in public places. We have already covered the work of Liberty and Nadia Eweida – the woman reprimanded by BA for wearing a cross to work – but this latest one is beyond belief.

From the Daily Mail:

A poster advertising a day of international Christian prayer was banned from a library – in case it offended people of other religions.

Staff said council policy prevented them from displaying the poster for Women’s World Day of Prayer.

The only religious symbol on the poster in question was the Women’s World Day of Prayer international logo.

The design comprises arrows from the four points of the compass, four figures kneeling in prayer, the Celtic cross and a circle representing the world and unity through all diversity.

Sunderland Council says it is reviewing its guidelines in light of the row.

If you click on the link to the Mail article, you will find that their reporter has gathered the testimonies of leaders of all faiths in the city who think that the decision is absurd. I'm willing to bet that if anyone was to go out and take a snap poll of residents of all faiths in Sunderland, they too would be appalled.

Therefore, it is just the council (who have admitted their error, but will not be the only local authority in the country with these rules) who have objected. So, it is time for some Big Brother Watch homework.

Calling civil libertarians of all faiths: find a local church, mosque, temple, synagogue and any other place of worship (atheists can join in too); find a coming day of prayer or similar; create a poster; and try and place it up in your local library. If they refuse on the grounds of council regulations, name and shame them on our blog or write to us at [email protected].

We thank you in advance!

By Dylan Sharpe

Sniffing out our next piece of unique biometric data

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Privacy | 10 Comments

Face-recognition DNA, irides, fingerprints…the number of unique identifying characteristics that we possess, and that the state wants to get hold of, is high and climbing all the time.

The latest piece of biometric data that you need to worry about keeping secure has been staring back at you from the mirror for some time and, it could be said, is as clear as the nose on your face. 

The BBC explains:

We already have iris and fingerprint scanning but noses could be an even better method of identification, says a study from the University of Bath, UK.

The researchers scanned noses in 3D and characterised them by tip, ridge profile and the nasion, or area between the eyes.

Since they are hard to conceal, the study says, noses would work well for identification in covert surveillance.

The researchers say noses have been overlooked in the growing field of biometrics, studies into ways of identifying distinguishing traits in people.

Is it a matter of time before we find ourselves having to hand over our nose measurements when applying for passports? And will our friendly neighbourhood policeman soon be equipped with an NID – nasal identification device – to aid detection and prove our identity?

Probably not, but perhaps more pertinently, what is the driving force behind all these studies to harness biometric data? If it were purely scientific, I wouldn't be quite so concerned. It's the creeping fear that the government is trying to (in the words of Sir David Varney – permanent secretary at the Treasury) build a "single source of truth on the citizen" that worries.

By Dylan Sharpe

Smoking ban has its first martyr (and umpteenth victim)

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | 17 Comments

No_smoking Nick Hogan, a former pub landlord, has become the first person to be jailed
in connection with the smoking ban. He was sentenced to six months in prison for
refusing to pay a fine imposed under the legislation.

As the Daily Mail reports it, he openly flouted the law and then refused to pay his fines and I accept of course that that's the ultimate recourse for people who refuse to pay fines. But it's a question of proportion.

During my time in the criminal justice system I regularly saw people with several or many previous convictions who, on being convicted of a further violent offence (or offences), were given shorter sentences than this (or, frequently, non-custodial sentences). This chap will find himself in prison alongside hardened criminals, for allowing grown adults to do as they wish, something which in some cases they have been doing for most of their lives, something which in most contexts is perfectly legal and, until recently, was perfectly legal in this context too.

Particularly at a time when so many pubs are closing, and prisons are rammed, is a six month sentence really appropriate, and/or a good use of custodial space?

By Alex

Coda 1: If you want to support Mr Hogan, go here.

Coda 2: for many people who have been smokers for decades, as a part of their relaxation after a hard day's work, whether it be in pubs, in bingo halls or in working men's clubs, smoking is an innate
part of their social life – the complete banning of this activity seems peculiarly cruel and thoughtless in relation to such people, don't you think? You might wish to visit here or here if so.