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
Debate has once again surrounded social media and the topic of whether individual’s should be able to post anonymously and give false details when creating a social media account. Andy Smith, head of security at the Public Sector Technical Services Authority, caused controversy by advising internet users that giving false details to social networking sites was a “very sensible thing to do”.
In an age where our personal information is becoming more and more valuable as a commodity, it is clearly sensible that people don’t share data unless it is absolutely necessary. The answer to the problem is that internet services need to reassess how much personal information they request from a user, for instance is it really necessary for a social network site to ask for your full birthday and gender?
Intellectual property in a digital age has been traditionally focused on issues like copyright infringement and patents.
One issue that has not been covered is the implications for personal data.Where previously companies would pay ‘mystery shoppers’ or members of the public in some way for the information about how people’s retail habits, they are now able to access data generated by customers using their cards and process it into marketing data.
Mastercard is the latest company to hit the headlines for its plans to mine customers data for insights that can be sold on.
The curious part is the company’s claim that they can use off-line data to help advertisers target you online. Arguing their system is proprietary, they don’t offer any detail on how this is possible without using some degree of personal information.
The letter has some choice words for the company:
Given the importance placed upon communications data in the PR offensive before the draft Communications Data Bill was launched , you would hope that the process to draft the Bill was rigorous and fully involved the companies affected.
We already know from previous evidence that the main evidential basis for the bill came from a two week survey of selected police forces conducted fairly recently.
Now evidence from the Joint Committee’s private sessions with communications companies Google, Yahoo and Twitter (part 1) Facebook, Microsoft (covering both Skype and Hotmail) and Tor, (part 2) has now been published and casts serious doubt over the Home Office’s assertion that everything was hunky dory with the Bill.
As another individual is sentenced to jail time for causing offense, it seems that at present a week doesn’t go by where outrage over a joke or insensitive comment isn’t splashed across the front pages.
There have been two notable cases in October: Barry Thew, who wore a T-shirt bearing the message “One less pig; perfect justice” and “Killacopforfun.com haha”, was sentenced to jail for eight months under the Public Order Act and Matthew Woods was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail after posting “grossly offensive” jokes on his Facebook page about missing April Jones under the Malicious Communications Act 2003. It is worth noting on the same day and in the same court that Woods was sentenced, a man was fined £100 and ordered to pay £100 compensation for racially abusing a woman to her face.
“Technically, this amounted to intrusive surveillance, which the police can authorise, but the council cannot.” Cambridge City Council report.
As reported on the front page of today’s Cambridge News, a report to Cambridge city council, to be discussed next week, highlights how the Council signed off on an operation to install hidden CCTV cameras in the home of a resident, despite not having the legal authority to do so.
The situation clearly warranted action to protect the resident and to ensure a proper prosecution could be mounted. This is why the police do have the power to install hidden cameras – and in this case it should have been the police investigating, not the council. While the Protection of Freedoms Act will now require a council seeks a magistrate’s approval for Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act operation, other public authorities will not.
It highlights just how weak the safeguards around these powers are that a council thought it had the power to plant secret cameras in someone’s home when they absolutely do not.
The failures in authorisation and legal advice are starkly laid out in this case, but in how many other situations are public authorities erring beyond their powers? We do not know, and cases like this only further highlight the weakness of the current oversight regime around RIPA.
Last month we detailed how one of the key statistics being relied upon by campaigners calling for ‘default blocking’ of some internet content was based upon one very dubious survey in a single school.
This kind of deliberately misleading scaremongering undermines the discussion about how best to protect children, and now it’s clear that commercial pressures are also leading to dodgy stats being pushed into the debate.
This week, the Advertising Standards Authority has rebuked Carphone Warehouse for it’s marketing of a service we’ve previously been very critical of, Bemilo. The service hit the headlines for it’s feature that allowed parents to read the text messages of children, prompted by our warning that parenting is not spying.
New high definition CCTV cameras that are capable of identifying and tracking a person’s face from half a mile away are being rolled out across UK cities without public consultation.
The Independent has highlighted the use of the increasingly sophisticated cameras which they claim may be in breach of human rights laws. Andrew Rennison, the new surveillance camera commissioner, has predicted that there will be a public outcry if facial recognition systems and HD cameras are allowed to loom over our public areas.
Rennison said: “The technology has overtaken our ability to regulate it. I’m convinced that if we don’t regulate it properly – ie, the technological ability to use millions of images we capture – there will be a huge public backlash. It is the Big Brother scenario playing out large. It’s the ability to pick out your face in a crowd from a camera which is probably half a mile away.”
Home Office Minister, Damian Green MP, has warned that unmanned drones must only be used by police as part of air support plans if it is both “appropriate and proportionate”.
Speaking at the launch of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) Green said “Drones are like any other piece of kit – where it’s appropriate or proportionate to use them then we will look at using them.”