Schools using CCTV cameras and microphones in classrooms to monitor pupils have been told they should be switched off.
Head teachers have been warned that putting children and teachers under constant surveillance is intrusive to
privacy and a disproportionate way to tackle classroom pranksters.
Data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) issued the blunt assessment after investigating Classwatch, a firm that has set up classroom
surveillance systems in at least 85 schools across the country. classroom cctv schools
In its guidance the ICO said CCTV should be used only to investigate a serious assault and could only be used in exceptional circumstances. Constant filming and sound recording is unlikely to be acceptable unless there is a pressing need for example, if there is an ongoing problem of assaults or criminal damage.
The ICO ruled that the use of classroom microphones to record
conversations is highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified. If a system comes equipped with a sound-recording facility, then it should be turned off.
Schools have installed CCTV cameras and microphones in classrooms to watch and listen to pupils.
The Big Brother-style surveillance is being marketed as a way to identify pupils disrupting lessons when teachers' backs are turned.
Classwatch, the firm behind the system, says its devices can be set up to record everything that goes on in a classroom 24 hours a day and used to compile
evidence of wrongdoing. The equipment is sold with Crown Prosecution Service-approved evidence bags to store material to be used in court cases.
Data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner has warned the surveillance may be
illegal and demanded to know why primary and secondary schools are using this kind of sophisticated equipment to watch children. Officials said they would be contacting schools to seek proper justification for the equipment's use. A spokesman said
the system raised privacy concerns for teachers, students and their parents. The use of microphones to record conversations is deeply intrusive and we will be seeking further clarification on their use in schools and, if necessary, we will issue
further guidance to headteachers.
Classwatch is set to face further scrutiny over the role of Shadow Children's Minister Tim Loughton, the firm's £30,000-a-year chairman.
The systems cost around £3,000 to install in each
classroom or can be leased for about £50 per classroom per month. The firm says the devices act as impartial witnesses which can provide evidence in disputes and curb bullying and unruly behaviour and protect teachers against false
allegations of abuse plus provide evidence acceptable in court.
Schools are required to inform all parents that microphones and cameras are monitoring their children.
Regular web users can now access anonymously-published websites that are masked by Tor's hidden services thanks to a new tool called tor2web.com .
The tool, created by former
Reddit developer Aaron Swartz and WikiScanner creator Virgil Griffith, enables people to view these hidden websites (designated by the .onion domain suffix) without diving into Tor, which can be a pain for casual surfers.
The creators hope that
the existence of tor2web will encourage more organizations to publish content anonymously through Tor, now that such a heavy access restriction has been lifted.
The Tor project is most famous as a tool that allows Internet surfers to access
websites privately and anonymously from within the onion router. Put simply, it works by passing your requests to another node that acts as a middleman between you and a website, which in turn passes the request onto other nodes, and so on. Every
step is encrypted except for the final exit node to the content server connection, and the network is run almost entirely by volunteers.
Tor's hidden services allow web publishers to publish content anonymously so that law enforcement (and
general snoopers) can't detect where the information is coming from. The only problem with publishing websites under Tor is that they can only be accessed from within Tor, meaning that the available audience at any given time is infinitesimally small
compared to the overall Internet-using population. This is the problem that Swartz and Griffith hope to address with tor2web.
Britons could find themselves forced to prove they are innocent of crimes abroad after the Government agreed to EU-wide access to its 'Big Brother' databases.
All 26 other member countries will be able to check against sensitive personal
information held on driver registration, DNA and fingerprint computer systems.
Where there is a match, a suspect-could be extradited to face trial abroad or - at the least - be forced to explain their movements or provide an alibi.
Home Secretary Dominic Grieve warned last night: There is a real risk that a disproportionate number of innocent British citizens will be sucked into foreign criminal investigations.
Grieve said people could even be arrested in Britain for
something which is not a criminal offence, or be whisked away to face punishment abroad after being tried in their absence: My fear is that ministers have magnified the risk of British citizens becoming the victim of miscarriages of justice that take
place abroad but have effectively been sanctioned by their own government at home.
The agreement stems from the Prum Convention, signed in Prum, Germany, in 2005 between Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and
Austria. The then junior Home Office minister Joan Ryan signed the UK up to its terms in 2007. Officials are now preparing to formally approve the agreement, following technical talks.
Phil Booth, of the NO2ID privacy campaign, said the
Government was allowing its own assault on the principle of innocent until proven guilty to be extended to other EU nations.
Jack Straw's proposal to rebalance the Human Rights Act is an insult to even the Daily Mail's intelligence
Preying on the intellectual dysfunction on the right, Jack Straw went to the Daily Mail to announce his new policy of rebalancing the Human
Rights Act on its tenth anniversary. He proposes to end the aspect he calls the villain's charter , adding responsibilities to obey the law and to be loyal to the country.
The poor fools at the Daily Mail swallowed Jack's bait and put the
story on the front page, in the process completely forgetting about their long running campaign against police state Britain, which they made so much of last week.
Simon Davies, of Privacy International, has re-instituted the UK Big Brother Awards, to recognise some of the people who have been trying to keep the monsters of state and corporate mass surveillance , snooping and control at bay.
At a ceremony
held at the London School of Economics, the evil Big Brother Award, with the boot forever stamping on the human face, was awarded simply to New Labour.
The 2008 UK Big Brother Awards Roll of Honour
Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP - one of the Liberal Democrat Members of the European Parliament whose Human Rights Committee has been trying to stem the onslaught of necessarily repressive legislation in the past few years.
Booth, the National Coordinator of the cross political party NO2ID Campaign -against the Database State. Phil was recently described as the hardest man in NGO-world.
Helen Wallace from GeneWatch UK, who did so much to help
educate politicians and lawyers and the media about the counterproductive evil policy of keeping innocent people's DNA tissue samples and DNA profiles, seemingly for ever, This has been overturned in the very recent European Court of Human Rights
judgement in the Marper case.
Gareth Crossman - retiring Director of Policy at Liberty Human Rights
Becky Hogge - retiring Executive Director of the Open Rights Group
Rt. Hon. David Davis MP,
the fomer Conservative Shadow Home Affairs spokesman, who was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Haltemprice and Howden, on the principles of freedom and liberty.
One of the eminent outsiders brought into Gordon Brown's government of all the talents has revealed that he quit in disgust at what he describes as Labour's dismal lack of political leadership on human rights.
Lord Lester, a Liberal
Democrat and distinguished human rights lawyer, quit as the prime minister's adviser on constitutional reform a month ago. In a scathing attack yesterday, he revealed for the first time how he felt tethered by the government, describing its record on
human rights as dismal and deeply disappointing.
He was speaking on the 60th anniversary of the UN's declaration of human rights, and singled out the justice secretary, Jack Straw, for failing to produce a radical constitutional renewal
bill or to defend the Human Rights Act.
Straw angered human rights campaigners by giving an interview in the Daily Mail this week in which he said many people felt the act, passed by the government in 1990 while he was home secretary, was
perceived as a villains' charter.
Lester angrily described the interview as a sly attempt to undermine public support for the act. Under the headline Straw gets tough, the Mail described his pledge to reform villains'
Lester went on to criticise the government's failures to fight for human rights across a range of issues.
He said the government's failures to pursue constitutional reform were why I decided, with regret, to cease to be a
government-tethered 'goat' - that is, one of those flatteringly and misleadingly described as part of a government of all the talents. Lester is understood to be dismayed that Straw has allowed the constitutional reform bill not to find a firm slot
in the Queen's speech, and fears the justice secretary is using his plans for a bill of rights and responsibilities to weaken rather than strengthen British commitment to human rights.
Jack Straw's attack on the Human Rights Act is sly populism of the worst kind, and in keeping with his party's statist tradition
Jack Straw's headline-grabbing declaration that Britain's Human Rights Act has become a villain's charter, and
must be rebalance d, should be seen for what it is: a rejection of the simple notion that all of us, no matter how rich or poor, how powerful or weak, possess certain inalienable rights.
Of course, these rights do not entitle anyone to
break the law. In a mealy-mouthed sop to the opponents of the Human Rights Act, Straw has declared that our human rights should be qualified by new responsibilities to obey the law and be loyal to the country. But no one has ever claimed that
human rights should absolve anyone of their responsibilities .
The justice secretary is picking a meaningless fight to generate a favourable headline, while conning opponents of the Human Rights Act into believing that he's saying
something of greater significance. In short, it's sly populism of the worst kind.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it is illegal for the government to retain DNA profiles and fingerprints belonging to two men never convicted of any crime.
The landmark decision could mean the more than 570,000 DNA profiles in
the National DNA Database belonging to innocent individuals will have to be deleted. Police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently have powers to take DNA and fingerprints from everyone they arrest.
The case was heard by the 17 judges
of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. They unanimously found that UK DNA and fingerprint retention policies infringe individuals' rights to privacy.
Home secretary Jacqui Smith said: The existing law will
remain in place while we carefully consider the judgement. In in April the Home Office committed itself to a consultation on DNA and fingerprint retention powers following today's ruling, regardless of the outcome.
The challenge was brought
by two men from Sheffield. DNA was taken from Michael Marper, when he was charged with harassing his estranged partner in 2001. The charges were dropped when the couple reconciled. The second man, a teenager identified as "S", was charged with
attempted robbery, also in 2001, but was acquitted.
The pair took their case to Europe after the House of Lords, the highest court in the UK, rejected their arguments in 2004. In November this year, the Lords voted that National DNA Database
rules should be change to make it easier for innocent people to demand their profile is deleted.
In its ruling, the Grand Chamber said retention of innocent people's DNA profile was a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human
Rights. Article 8 states: Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. It said it was not necessary to consider Marper and "S'" complaint under Article 14, which prohibits discrimination.
The 17 judges wrote: The Court was struck by the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the power of retention in England and Wales. In particular, the data in question could be retained irrespective of the nature or gravity of the offence with
which the individual was originally suspected or of the age of the suspected offender; the retention was not time-limited; and there existed only limited possibilities for an acquitted individual to have the data removed from the nationwide database or
to have the materials destroyed.
They were particularly concerned about the risk of stigmatisation caused by treating innocent people the same as convicted criminals.
Personal information detailing intimate aspects of the lives of every British citizen is to be handed over to government agencies under sweeping new powers. The measure, which will give ministers the right to allow all public bodies to exchange sensitive
data with each other, is expected to be rushed through Parliament.
The new legislation would deny MPs a full vote on such data-sharing. Instead, ministers could authorise the swapping of information between councils, the police, NHS trusts, the
Inland Revenue, education authorities, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, the Department for Work and Pensions and other ministries.
Opponents of the move accused the Government of bringing in by stealth a data-sharing programme that
exposed everyone to the dangers of a Big Brother state and one of the most intrusive personal databases in the world. The new law would remove the right to protection against misuse of information by thousands of unaccountable civil servants, they added.
David Howarth, the Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, added: The Government shouldn't try to sneak through further building blocks of its surveillance state. Unrestricted data-sharing simply increases the risks of data loss. This is
particularly troubling since the Government has already shown itself entirely incapable of keeping our personal data safe.
The data-sharing measure is referred to in the Coroners and Justice Bill outlined in the recent Queen's Speech. It
could, for instance, pave the way for medical records to be sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to identify drivers who pose a health risk, or school attendance data being handed to the Department for Work and Pensions to verify social
security claims made by parents.
NO2ID, a group which campaigned against government plans for ID cards and the associated National Identity Register, said the proposals went far beyond data protection and were intended to build the database
state, concealed under a misleading name. The group's national co-ordinator, Phil Booth, said: This is a Bill to smash the rule of law and build the database state in its place. Burying sweeping constitutional change in obscure Bills is an
appalling approach. Having proved and admitted they cannot be trusted to look after our secrets, they are still determined to steal what privacy we have left. Parliament needs to wake up before it has no say any more.
A suicide case involving MySpace concluded last week, with the jury finding Lori Drew guilty of three misdemeanor counts of gaining unauthorized access to the popular social-networking site.
While most of the press attention has been focused on
the specifics of the case, the more important issue is the potential impact this could have on the Internet in general.
Web site terms of service, which end users universally ignore, suddenly have teeth: violating them is now considered a federal
hacking offense, punishable with jail time. The days of being able to freely lie on the Web could be coming to an end. This could mean serious trouble for people who lie about their age, weight, or marital status in their online dating profiles.
The specifics of the Lori Drew case are messy and emotional. The important fact is that there is no federal cyberbullying statute, so the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles turned to a novel interpretation of existing computer hacking laws to try to punish the woman. The general idea is that in creating terms of service, a Web site owner specifies the rules of admission to the site. If someone violates any of those contractual terms, the "access" to the Web site is done without authorization, and is thus hacking.
Unfortunately for Internet users everywhere, a jury bought the theory last week and found Lori Drew guilty of three misdemeanor violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, punishable with up to one year in a federal prison and a $100,000 fine
for each of the three counts.
Until the Drew case is overturned, terms of service would appear to have the power of federal hacking laws to back them up, at least in cases where an ambitious federal prosecutor is interested in making a name for
UK officials are to be given powers previously reserved for times of war to demand a person's proof of identity at any time. Anybody who refuses the Big Brother demand could face arrest and a possible prison sentence.
The new rules are presented
as a crackdown on illegal immigration, but lawyers say they could be applied to anybody who has ever been outside the UK, even on holiday.
The civil rights group Liberty, which analysed clauses from the new Immigration and Citizenship Bill,
called them an attempt to introduce compulsory ID cards by the back door.
Liberty said: Powers to examine identity documents, previously thought to apply only at ports of entry, will be extended to criminalise anyone in Britain who has ever
left the country and fails to produce identity papers upon demand.
We believe that the catch-all remit of this power is disproportionate and that its enactment would not only damage community relations but represent a fundamental shift in the
relationship between the State and those present in the UK.
One broadly-drafted clause would permit checks on anyone who has ever entered the UK - whether recently or years earlier. Officials, who could be police or immigration officers,
will be able to stop anyone to establish if they need permission to be here, if they have it, and whether it should be cancelled.
No reasonable cause or suspicion is required, and checks can be carried out in country - not just at borders.
The law would apply to British citizens and foreign nationals, according to Liberty's lawyers. The only people who would be exempt are the tiny minority who have never been abroad on holiday or business.
A second clause says that people who are
stopped must produce a valid identity document if required to do so by the Secretary of State. Failure to do so would be a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 51 weeks in jail or a £5,000 fine.
Currently, police are allowed to
ask for identity documents only if there is a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed an offence.
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: Sneaking in compulsory identity cards via the back door of immigration law is a cynical
escalation of this expensive and intrusive scheme.
LibDem spokesman Chris Huhne said: Ministers seem to be breaking their promise that no one would ever have to carry an ID card. This is a sly and underhand way of extending the ID card
scheme by stealth.
Frightening new police powers have emerged following the shocking treatment of Stoke City fans prior to their team's away fixture with Manchester United on Saturday, November 15, 2008.
An estimated 80 Stoke supporters visited the Railway Inn pub
in Irlam, Greater Manchester, on their way to Old Trafford. The pub was a natural stop-off point, being on en route to the stadium via the M6 and a local railway station. By all accounts that the Football Supporters' Federation have heard it was a
relatively quiet atmosphere, with little singing, never mind trouble.
However, at 1.15pm a number of officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) entered the premises and told fans they would not be allowed to leave the pub, would be forcibly
taken back to Stoke, and not be allowed to visit Old Trafford.
Each supporter was then issued with a Section 27 from the Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006. This allows police to move someone from a specified area for a period of up to 48 hours.
You do not actually have to have committed any offence for the act to be enforced. Section 27 gives police the powers to move anybody, from any place, at anytime, if they think there's a possibility an alcohol related offence may be committed.
Stoke City fan Lyndon Edwards, who is making a formal complaint to GMP and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was one of those in the pub:
I asked for it to be stated on the Section 27 form given that I was not intoxicated and that there was no evidence of any disorder on my part. This was refused so I refused to sign the form. I was told to sign it or I would be arrested. We were then
loaded onto buses and had to sit there for what seemed like an eternity.
There were no football chants being sung at the Railway Inn and no evidence of disorder whatsoever. If there had of been we would have left the pub and made our way
The Stoke supporters were then driven back in convoy to Stoke city centre, regardless of whether this was actually where they were from.
I have spoken to a number of Stoke fans who were there and I am quite satisfied
that they did absolutely nothing wrong, but they end being hauled back to Stoke against their will and missing the game, said Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF and a Stoke City fan: They were treated very badly by the Greater Manchester Police.
This new law gives the police a great deal of instant power which can severely affect the basic civil rights of football supporters, if they happen to be in the wrong pub or on the wrong train at the wrong time.
German police will get sweeping new powers to hack into people's home computers with 'Trojan' viruses sent through the internet.
Under a compromise between the hardline Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and dissenting MPs, Germany's Parliament
is put unprecedented power in the hands of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA). Under the compromise, the police will need a judge's approval before using the Trojans, even in an emergency.
Trojans will carry Remote Forensic Software that can
search hard drives and send evidence back to investigators without their having to enter the suspect's home.
Rolf Tophoven from the Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Policy said: We need this. The masterminds among the terrorist
groups of today are highly qualified, very sophisticated people. The police need as much power as we can give them so that they can remain at the technological level of the terrorists. After all, the terrorists already have a huge advantage: they have
the first shot."
In practical terms there are many potential drawbacks to this Trojan approach.
For starters, infecting the PC of a target of an investigation is hit and miss. Malware is not a precision weapon, and that raises the possibility that
samples of the malware might fall into the hands of cybercrooks.
Even if a target does get infected there's a good chance any security software they've installed will detect the malware. Any security vendor who agreed to turn a blind eye to
state-sanctioned Trojans would risk compromising their reputation, as amply illustrated by the Magic Lantern controversy in the US a few years back.
CCTV cameras which can predict if a crime is about to take place are being introduced on Britain's streets.
The cameras can alert operators to suspicious behaviour, such as loitering and unusually slow walking. Anyone spotted could then
have to explain their behaviour to a police officer.
It will also fuel fears that Britain is becoming a surveillance society. There are already 4.2million cameras trained on the public. The technology could be used alongside many of these to
allow evermore advanced scrutiny of our movements.
Civil rights campaign group Liberty is sceptical. A spokesman said: Bringing expensive Hollywood sci-fi to our car parks will never be as effective as having police on the street leading the
fight against crime.'
The cameras, trained on public places, such as car parks, are being tested by Portsmouth City Council. Computers are programmed to analyse the movements of people or vehicles in the camera frame. If someone is seen
lurking in a particular area, the computer will send out an alarm to a CCTV operator.
The operator will then check the image and if concerned ring the police. The aim is to stop crimes before they are committed. If a vehicle is moving too
fast or slow indicating joyriding or kerb-crawling, for example a similar alert could be given.
Tory Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: We will look at this carefully but there is no argument for CCTV that invades your privacy
without being effective in the fight against crime.
Home Office minister Vernon Coaker admitted the scale of council snooping on people was undermining public support for the anti-terror law, and promised action in the near future.
Authorities will be told to stop using hi-tech surveillance
methods designed to crack down on terrorism and serious crime for petty offences.
They have been accused of abusing the power to catch residents out such as those putting their rubbish out on the wrong day, dog fouling or claiming to live in a
different school catchment area.
The Local Government Association backed the move and said it was entirely inappropriate for councils to use the powers save in the most unusual and extreme circumstances.
The minister was appearing
before the House of Lords Constitution Committee, which is investigating the surveillance society.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said: For too long councils have been allowed to use powers designed for terrorism and
organised crime to spy on people's kids, pets and bins. This must be corrected now, not in the near future.
Jack & Jacqui Jack: Good one Jacqui...you will be able to monitor everyone calling you cerebrally challenged
The timetable for setting up a giant Big Brother database is slipping after the scheme was dropped from next month's Queen's Speech.
The Independent has highlighted growing fury over government moves to collate details of every telephone
call, email and internet visit.
Whitehall sources confirmed last night that the plans would not be included in the Queen's Speech on 3 December, in which the Government outlines its legislative programme for the next parliamentary year. Insisting
they were committed to the scheme as a tool in the fight against crime and terrorism, they said a consultation paper early next year would set out options for collecting the information.
But there is no firm indication when the new Communications
Data Bill will be published, raising the prospect of it being delayed until after the next general election expected in 2010.
The Bill would require telecommunications companies to keep information about calls and emails and pave the way for the
information being transferred from the companies to a giant Government database.
It would list phone numbers telephoned and addresses to which emails are sent, as well as web-browsing habits, but would not details of phone conversations or
contents of emails.
But the government would be easily able to scan the database to see what people have been viewing and who they are communicating with.
The Home Office has been stung by the strength of opposition. Richard Thomas, the
Information Commissioner, has condemned it as a step too far while Lord Carlisle of Berriew, the Government's terrorism watchdog, said it was awful as a raw idea.
The government Interception Modernisation Programme (gIMP), a plan by spy chiefs to centrally collect details of every phone call, text, email and web browsing session of every UK resident, could be in place by 2012, according to a Home Office
Lord West told the House of Lords yesterday the government is aiming to have the enormous database of communications and black box interception hardware in place around the same time as BT completes its 21CN transition to an
all-internet protocol network: Exactly how quickly that [BT's new backbone] will come in is difficult to predict, but it will be complete by about 2011-12. That is the sort of timescale we are looking at.
Independent Register sources in
politics, the civil service and industry have all said that the gIMP is proceeding anyway with initial funding of almost £1bn. It's been reported that government estimates say the final cost of collecting and storing information about every
electronic communication will be £12bn. Lord West said no decisions have been taken on which way to go.
The gIMP won't record the content of communications, but the central database will be linked to wiretap hardware. The two parts
of the system will together allow government eavesdroppers to easily dial into the content of any IP stream of interest.
Net eavesdropping firm NebuAd and its partner ISPs violated hacking and wiretapping laws when they tested advertising technology that spied on ISP customers web searches and surfing, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.
seeks damages on behalf of thousands of subscribers to the six ISPs that are known to have worked with NebuAd. If successful, the suit could be the final blow to the company, which abandoned its eavesdropping plans this summer after powerful lawmakers
began asking if the companies and ISPs violated federal privacy law by monitoring customers to deliver targeted ads.
NebuAd paid ISPs to let it install internet monitoring machines inside their network. Those boxes eavesdropped on users' online
habits -- and altered the traffic going to users in order to track them. That data was then used to profile users in order to deliver targeted ads on other websites.
The suit alleges the ISPs and NebuAd both violated anti-wiretapping statutes by
capturing users' online communications without giving adequate notice or getting consent.
Neither WideOpenWest nor Embarq, the two largest ISPs being sued, responded to requests for comment. Knology told Congress in August it had used NebuAd in
Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama, but stopped in July after Congress started asking questions. The other named ISP defendants are Bresnan Communications, Cable One, CenturyTel, all of which admitted testing NebuAd's technology.
seeks damages as well as an injunction against any similar behavior in the future.
The author of a new briefing document reports on how drinking control laws give the police absolute, unchecked power.
Most police powers are kept on a tight leash. If the police want to arrest you, search your house, or confiscate your
property, they can only do this in particular defined circumstances and the whole procedure is closely documented and recorded.
Yet now there is a whole swathe of behaviour-policing laws, where police or pseudo-police such as community
support officers are given powers to use however they want, against whomever they want, in whatever circumstances they want. They are being signed legal blank cheques. One key example of this is drinking control powers: within 800-plus control
areas across the UK, police officers can now ask peaceable citizens to surrender their can of lager or ale, or to tip it down the drain.