|28th December |
Scottish proposal to use barcodes and CCTV to individually track all alcohol purchases
Customers adopting standard privacy
protection to buy a bottle of beer
Bottles of alcohol should be tagged so adults buying drink for under-18s can be traced by police, a Labour MSP has said. Under the scheme, bottles would bear a printed barcode enabling authorities to track whether legally bought alcohol has been given
The scheme, which is already being piloted in areas of Dundee, involves the police seizing alcohol from under-18s and then using the coded bottle labels to trace where the drink was bought from.
Officers then use CCTV from
the shop to identify who bought the drink - whether it was an adult or an under-age customer being illegally sold it. Customers are even easier to trace if they use store cards.
Labour's Orwellian sounding 'community safety' spokesman James Kelly
wants to roll out the scheme to other parts of the country and says the Scottish Government should encourage licensing boards to sign up to the initiative.
Although the scheme aims to catch shops selling alcohol to under-age customers, it is also
used to target proxy purchases - adults buying drink on behalf of minors.
Those caught supplying alcohol to those under the age of 18 would be reported to the procurator-fiscal and could be hit with a fine of up to £5,000 or a prison
The scheme is understood to cost less than £100 per shop to run and authoritarians claim it would reduce alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour in areas with under-age drinking problems.
|23rd December |
Labour's ID card scheme now officially trashed
Based on article from
Labour's ID cards were officially trashed when the Bill to abolish them received Royal Assent.
The few thousand cards that people bought voluntarily will be cancelled within a month.
In addition, the database holding the biographic
information and biometric fingerprint data of cardholders, known as the National Identity Register, will be physically destroyed within two months.
The ID card scheme was symbolic of the last administration's obsession with control and nannying.
It was put up as a panacea, capable of preventing everything from benefit fraud and illegal immigration to terrorism and organised crime.
|12th December |
Growing numbers of volunteers are refusing to put up with humiliating and unnecessary vetting checks
See article from
|17th November |
US website extends phone book details with a web search for personal information
Based on article from
Spokeo.com is a US website linking a phone directory with a search engine to identify people via their personal information.
It draws together your contact details (including your phone number, e-mail and postal address), information about your
personal wealth, your spouse and any social networks you might be a member of. In compiling the data, the website searches databases including phone books, marketing surveys, business databases, ecommerce stores, and other public databases .
Our supported wrote:
I entered my name and saw all this personal information: photos, my wife's name, and the scariest part--a photo of my house from Google Street View! This is certainly unsettling
In light of this, I decided to investigate the profile details of friends. After typing in their names and clicking on the search result for the town in which they live, I was able to find out detailed personal information about
them that I had only learned of after staying with them in their home.
Spokeo was able to tell me that they lived in a single house built in 2004, the estimated value of their home, the fact they have children and both
of their star signs. Further to this, I could also find out that they own an RV (a camper van), have cats, are collectors and enjoy travelling. Alongside all this information was a photograph of the isolated plot of land their home is located on - a
clear gift to any burglar looking to research access routes to and from a home in order to steal the aforementioned collectables and vehicles. Upon payment of a further fee, I could have accessed information about their personal wealth level, political
affiliations and religion.
This website is currently only operating in the United States, but it has plans to extend overseas
|13th November |
Home Office responds to EU pressure to ensure Phorm/BT communications interception is more effectively banned in
Based on article from
See also Home
Office botches again: Phorm Interception consultation released in silence from openrightsgroup.org
Home Office: citizens not directly concerned by interception law from
The Home Office is scrambling to close loopholes in wiretapping law, revealed by the Phorm affair, ahead of a potentially costly court case against the European Commission.
It is proposing new powers that would punish even unintentional illegal
interception by communications providers.
Officials in Brussels are suing the government following public complaints about BT's secret trials of Phorm's web interception and profiling technology, and about the failure of British authorities to
take any action against either firm.
The government has now issued a consultation document proposing changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) that will mean customer consent for interception of their communications must be freely given, specific and informed
, in line with European law. RIPA currently allows interception where there is only reasonable grounds for believing consent is given.
The Home Office
consultation document has been published with an unusually short period for
public response closing 7 December.
|6th November ||
Google slapped and told not to capture private communications again
article from independent.co.uk
See ICO accused of sending 'non-technical' staff to investigate Google data breach from
Google committed a significant breach of data protection laws when its Street View cars mistakenly collected people's email addresses and passwords over unsecured WiFi networks, the Information Commissioner has ruled. However, the company
escaped a fine and was asked only to promise not to do it again.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said Google had broken the law when devices installed on its specialised cars collected the personal data. He told the company to delete
the information as soon as it is legally cleared to do so and ordered an audit of its data protection practices.
Google admitted in May that it had collected payload data – information transmitted over a network when users log
on – and said it was acutely aware it had failed to earn the public's trust over the incident. In a post published on its official blog on 22 September, the company admitted that in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as
well as passwords .
Graham said: It is my view that the collection of this information was not fair or lawful and constitutes a significant breach of the first principle of the Data Protection Act: The most appropriate and proportionate
regulatory action in these circumstances is to get written legal assurance from Google that this will not happen again. He added that it would be followed with an Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) audit.
Alex Deane, director of the civil
liberties blog Big Brother Watch, said: The Information Commissioner's failure to take action is disgraceful. Ruling that Google has broken the law but taking no action against it shows the Commissioner to be a paper tiger. The Commissioner is an
apologist for the worst offender in his sphere of responsibility, not a policeman of it.
|4th November |
Stop the government snooping on every email and Facebook message
petition from action.openrightsgroup.org
The government has announced that it will be spending up to £2 billion into new ways to snoop on email and web traffic.
This Kafka-esque Intercept Modernisation Plan , was stopped near the end of the last government, but was quietly
revived in the 2010 Spending Review. While billions of pounds are being slashed from education, welfare and defence, the government plans to waste vast sums trying to snoop on our emails and Facebook communications.
We need to tell the government
to stop this wasteful, intrusive plan for wholesale snooping on our daily lives.
Please sign our petition – and tell your friends:
Dear David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May,
I do not want the government to try to intercept every UK email, facebook account and online
communication. It would be pointless – as it will be easy for criminals to encrypt and evade – and expensive, costing everyone £2 billion. It would also be illegal: mass surveillance would be a breach of our fundamental right to
privacy. Please cancel the Intercept Modernisation Plan.
7284 people have signed so far
|4th November |
CCTV that listens for threatening sounds
Based on article from
Cambridge firm Audio Analytic announced that they have developed a new form of audio scanner attached to CCTV cameras which is able to analyse the pitch, tone and intonation of noises and work out if they pose a threat .
Analytic claim the hardware will only flag-up audible examples of aggression, it must surely follow that for such technology to be effective it must monitor all conversations in its vicinity?
Chris Mitchell, Audio Analytic's boss, on BBC World
Service's Digital Planet said that he software goes beyond simply placing microphones onto cameras and listening in. By feeding hundreds of sample sounds into the system, the software can distinguish different threats from various sounds - and not
just based on volume.
We don't work with volume at all in the system because it's so related to how far somebody is from the microphone that it's not a useful metric. Our system picks out the most salient characteristics. These are things
related to pitch, tone, intonation.
Essentially, Mitchell explained, the software contains hundreds of audio fingerprints, and as soon as a sound resembles a stored sample, the alarm is raised.
|3rd November |
Rotterdam to install face recognition cameras on public transport
Based on article
Rotterdam City Council have announced the roll-out of facial recognition scanners on their public transport network.
According to DutchNews.nl:
The scanners will record the biometric features of passengers as they enter the tram. If a
passenger with a public transport ban is spotted, an alarm will sound in the driver's cabin and the passenger will be removed.. At the moment, drivers are issued with photos of banned passengers and have to recognise them from these
the information will also be available to the police and security services too.
For the moment there are no plans yet for Amsterdam so one can still visit the red light area without a permanent entry recording this on your official records.
No doubt it will make interesting reading for the authorities to also record who people are traveling with. There could be a lucrative market for such information from the likes of marital investigators.
|3rd November |
Another monitor-everyone Big Brother program to identify homicidal nutters from their emails
article from aclu.org
|29th October |
Tax inspectors thwarted in attempt to find which books people have purchased at Amazon
Based on article from
Lists that identify the titles of books, music, and movies purchased by Amazon.com customers are protected by Free Speech rights guaranteed by the US Constitution, a federal judge has ruled.
The landmark ruling by US District Judge Marsha J.
Pechman of Seattle, was a sharp rebuke of North Carolina's DOR, or Department of Revenue, which in December ordered Amazon to turn over sales data for all customers with a shipping address within the state who made purchases from 2003 to 2010. Amazon,
which says it has conducted almost 50 million transactions with North Carolina residents during that time, filed suit in April arguing that request threatened anyone who may have bought controversial or sensitive titles.
Judge Pechman agreed: The First Amendment protects a buyer from having the expressive content of her purchase of books, music, and audiovisual materials disclosed to the government,
she wrote in a ruling: Citizens are entitled to receive information and ideas through books, films, and other expressive materials anonymously. The fear of government tracking and censoring one's reading, listening, and viewing choices chills the
exercise of First Amendment rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which joined the case on behalf of several Amazon customers, hailed the decision: This ruling is a victory for privacy and free speech on the internet, a legal
director for the organization said in a statement. The court has emphasized what other courts have found before – that government officials cannot watch over our shoulders to see what we are buying and reading.
|28th October |
Police apologise over mass surveillance of muslim areas of Birmingham
1st October 2010. From islamophobia-watch.com
British police have apologized for a counterterrorism project that installed surveillance cameras in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, saying that although the cameras had never been switched on, the program had damaged trust and caused anger in the
The surveillance program, which saw more than 200 CCTV cameras and number plate recognition devices put up in parts of Birmingham, was conceived in 2007 after a series of terrorist plots were uncovered in the city.
complained that they were not consulted about the program, and civil liberties groups protested that the measures were heavy-handed.
An independent review conducted by Thames Valley Police, in southern England, criticized police in central England
for the camera program. The review found little evidence of thought being given to compliance with the legal or regulatory framework before the cameras were put up.
West Midlands Police constable Chris Sims said authorities had made a
mistake in not considering the impact of the cameras in intruding into people's privacy: I am sorry that we got such an important issue so wrong and deeply sorry that it has had such a negative impact on our communities .
Update: All apologies but no removal
18th October 2010. Based on article
West Midlands Police is facing legal action if it does not remove all cameras controversially put up in largely Muslim areas of Birmingham.
More than 200 covert and overt cameras were installed in Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook, paid for with
government money to tackle terrorism.
The force made unlikely sounding claims that the covert ones had been removed after uproar from residents.
Liberty plans to start a judicial review if there is no commitment made to remove the rest
within two weeks.
The £3m scheme, called Project Champion, saw cameras being put up by the Safer Birmingham Project (SBP), made up of the city council, police and agencies in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook districts. They can record pictures
and number plates of every car that goes in or out of the areas.
Last month Chief Constable Chris Sims apologised after an independent report into what happened said the force showed little evidence of thought being given to compliance with the
legal or regulatory framework before the cameras were put up. Sims said none of cameras had ever been used and the remaining cameras had been covered with bags until after discussion with a new project board with a strong community representation
But Liberty said it wanted assurances all the cameras would be removed otherwise it would pursue legal proceedings in the High Court. Corinna Ferguson, legal officer with Liberty, said: It is baffling that West Midlands Police are still
trying to salvage this unlawful discriminatory scheme. These cameras are useless for everyday policing and must be removed immediately if badly damaged relations are to be repaired.
Cameras to be removed
28th October 2010. Based on article from
More than 200 cameras targeted at Muslim suburbs of Birmingham as part of a secret counter-terrorism initiative are to be dismantled.
The West Midlands police chief constable, Chris Sims, said he believed all cameras installed as part of the £3m
surveillance initiative should be taken down to rebuild trust with local Muslims.
The scheme, Project Champion, was shelved less than six months ago when an investigation by the Guardian revealed police had misled residents into believing the
cameras were to be used to combat vehicle crime and antisocial behaviour.
In fact, the CCTV and automatic number plate reading (ANPR) cameras were installed as part of a programme run by the force's counter-terrorism unit with the consent of the
Home Office and MI5.
Police failed to obtain statutory clearance for around a third of the cameras, which were covert.
In a statement, Sims said: I believe that the support and the confidence of local communities in West Midlands police
is the most important thing for us in the fight against crime and terrorism. We can fight crime and the threat posed by terrorism far more effectively by working hand in hand with local people, rather than alienating them through a technological solution
which does not have broad community support.
Sims made no reference to the legal action he would have faced if he let the scheme continue. The civil rights organisation Liberty wrote to the force last week, threatening to commence judicial
review proceedings at the high court unless the force agreed within 14 days to dismantle the full surveillance infrastructure .
Today's recommendation was backed by the police authority and will not be put to a project board set up in
August to take over management of the cameras. The board, which was recently told almost all members of its advisory group wanted the cameras dismantled, is unlikely to object when it meets on Thursday.
A Birmingham council scrutiny committee has
released its own report, finding senior police officers guilty of deliberately misleading councillors over the purpose of the scheme.
Update: Removal Started
13th May 2011. See article from
Surveillance cameras set up in two predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods will start to be removed today, police said.
The 218 cameras, some of
which were hidden, sparked anger from civil liberties campaigners and residents in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath in Birmingham, where they were mainly erected.
The number plate recognition and CCTV cameras were financed under a counter-terrorism
initiative but were initially marketed to locals as a general crime-prevention measure.
West Midlands Police said work to take down the cameras and equipment is starting today, and all cameras will be removed this month.
Update: Removal Completed
12th June 2011. From bigbrotherwatch.org.uk
the longest running campaigns of Big Brother Watch came to a conclusion this week as the final camera of the ill-fated Project Champion was removed in Birmingham.
Big Brother Watch have been following this story for over a year now, ever
since the 218 camera network was installed in Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook, predominantly Muslim areas of the city. There were constant suspicions that the project was based on racial profiling and the financial backing came from the counter-terrorism
|22nd October |
Google censured over Wi-Fi snooping in Canada
Based on article from
Google's collection of personal data as part of its Street View project has been branded a serious violation of privacy laws.
The Canadian privacy commissioner found that the incident was the result of an engineer's careless error ,
which saw rogue code accidentally added to Street View software.
It has called on Google to tighten up its privacy rules by February or face further action.
Google apologised: We are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected
payload data from unencrypted networks .
As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all wi-fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities.
It follows the conclusion of an
investigation by the Canadian privacy commissioner, Jenny Stoddart: Our investigation shows that Google did capture personal information - and, in some cases, highly sensitive personal information such as complete e-mails, e-mail addresses, usernames
and passwords. This incident was a serious violation of Canadians' privacy rights .
The snooping code was incorporated in the Google Street View cars when the firm decided to collect information about the location of public wi-fi spots in
order to feed this information into its location-based services database.
The Commissioner recommended that Google enhance its privacy training among all employees. It also called on Google to ensure that it has the necessary procedures to protect
privacy before products are launched. It must also delete all the Canadian data it collected. If Google complies with these demands, it will face no further action, Ms Stoddart said.
|20th October |
Cameron to resurrect extensive government internet snooping plan
Thanks to MichaelG
article from dailymail.co.uk
Hugely controversial Big Brother plans to store details of every internet click, email and telephone call that we make are being revived by the Coalition, it has emerged.
Police, security services and other public bodies would be able to
find out which websites a person had visited, and when, where and to whom a text or call was made.
The plan – which was kicked into the long grass by Labour amid a public outcry – will put the Government on a collision course with civil liberties
They argue it is a snooper's charter which will allow the state to spy on millions of innocent citizens.
So far ministers have insisted they want to provide a correction in favour of liberty when it comes to the powers
required to protect the public. But this is sounding pretty weak now ministers have been persuaded of the case to give the police and security officials enhanced rights to access the public's communications.
Firm plans will be published later this
year on how the personal information should be stored.
|20th October |
The data hiding away in digital photo file
Based on article from
Skim through the photos on Flickr or Photobucket, and you'll find pictures of holiday conquests and illicit fun.
Dig a little deeper, and you can unearth the exact locations of many of those places, embedded in data within the pictures.
Images often contain a bundle of information and various traces left by phone cameras, digital cameras or photo manipulation software.
This data, called Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) details whether the photographer used a flash, which digital effects were applied to a picture and when the photo was taken.
EXIF can also contain the precise GPS coordinates for where
a photo was taken. This information is readily accessible and can be plugged into software such as Google Maps -- leading some security and photography experts to express concerns about amateurs unknowingly disclosing private information, such as the
location of their home.
Thomas Hawk, an active Flickr user and the former chief executive of competing photo site Zooomr, said: I think it's a huge concern. I think a lot of people don't realize or recognize what's in all of the EXIF data that
Many smartphones, such as those from Apple and Google's Android system, let users employ this location feature. Apple's and Google's systems ask each user once or a few times for permission to access their location in order
to provide additional services. If they click OK on that popup, every photo they take is tagged with GPS coordinates.
Judging by the abundance of pictures in Flickr's database that include geolocation data in the EXIF, some smartphone
owners aren't thinking twice about opting into their devices' GPS feature. Doing so can facilitate useful tools. For example, software like iPhoto and Picasa can group images by location and display them on a map.
But amateur photographers may not
realize that this info stays with the image when it's uploaded to Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa Web Albums and some other photo-sharing services. (Facebook says it strips the EXIF data from all photos to protect its users' privacy.)
Users who don't
want their photos tagged with GPS data can either disable the option on their cameras or run the images through software, such as Photoshop, that can remove the EXIF.
|18th October |
Impractical sounding nonsense from Canon
Based on article from examiner.com
Censorship by photo-copier is here. Canon's new Uniflow 5 software can prevent users from printing, scanning, faxing, or copying documents containing specific words, such as project names or client names.
The system naturally requires a Uniflow
print server and Uniflow-enabled Canon imaging devices. In addition to blocking the function, the print server will email the administrator a PDF copy of the document in question, as well as optionally sending the end user an email informing him that his
job has been blocked. It will not, however, identify the keyword causing the fault, which keeps the list of blocked keywords secret.
|6th October |
Website to pay viewers for spotting crimes on live CCTV
Based on article from
A website that pays the public to monitor live commercial CCTV footage has been criticised by civil liberties campaigners.
Internet Eyes says it offers up to £1,000 to online subscribers who can spot crimes as they happen and click an alert button
to notify the business owner.
All too often criminals get away with crime because, although their activity is monitored by CCTV, it is not observed at the time of the offence but only later on reviewing the footage when it is too late to stop
commission of the crime, said a spokesman for the company.
Any company wanting to have its CCTV systems wired up to the site will have to pay a subscription and viewers who sign up can see the images on their screens. More than 13,000 people
have indicated their interest and more are expected to join once it has launched. The cameras are based in stores across the UK, but the rewards are open to anyone from the EU.
However, civil liberties campaigners say the idea encourages people to
spy on each other. They urged anyone affected to contact us with a view to legal action .
Charles Farrier, of No CCTV, said: This is the privatisation of the surveillance society - a private company asking private individuals to spy on
each other using private cameras connected to the internet. Internet Eyes must be challenged. He said he feared people would upload copies of the live stream to file-sharing networks.
|3rd October |
Government consider re-opening child monitoring database
Thanks to Harvey
The government is considering bringing back a version of the controversial ContactPoint children's database, just months after the original project was halted.
The ContactPoint database project was launched by the previous Labour government, but
the Tories vowed to scrap it if they won power, on the grounds that it was a potential security risk to children.
After the election the coalition government announced it was pulling the plugs on the project, but now a parliamentary written
answer, indicates they are having second thoughts and are considering a streamlined version of the database.
Tim Loughton, junior minister for children and families, admitted, We are exploring the practicality of an
alternative national signposting service which would help practitioners find out whether a colleague elsewhere is working, or has previously worked, with the same vulnerable child. The approach would particularly take account of the needs of children who
move between local authority areas or who access services in more than one local authority.
Social workers in particular, and potentially other key services like the police or accident and emergency departments, may
need this information very quickly. Any new approach would seek to strengthen communication between these areas.
Loughton said it was important that information held on the new database was kept to a minimum, to allow effective
identification of the individuals involved.
|3rd October |
EU is suing Britain over data protection failures highlighted by the BT Phorm trials
Based on article from
The European Commission is suing the UK government over authorities' failure to take any action in response to BT's secret trials of Phorm's behavioural advertising technology.
The Commission alleges the UK is failing to meet its obligations under
the Data Protection Directive and the ePrivacy Directive.
The action follows 18 months of letters back and forth between Whitehall and Brussels. The Commssion demanded changes to UK law that have not been made, so it has now referred the case to
the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Specifically, European officials firstly charge that contrary to the ePrivacy Directive there is no UK authority to regulate interception of communications by private companies.
European Commission says the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which sanctions commercial interception when a company has reasonable grounds for believing consent has been given, does not offer strong enough protection to the public.
The City of London police dropped their investigation of the Phorm trial, claiming BT had reasonable grounds to believe it had customers' consent.
European law says consent for interception must be freely given, specific and informed indication
of a person's wishes . BT did not obtain, or attempt to obtain, such consent to include customers' internet traffic in its testing.
Finally, the Commission says the provisions of RIPA that outlaw only intentional interception are also
inadequate. EU law requires Members States to prohibit and to ensure sanctions against any unlawful interception regardless of whether committed intentionally or not, it said.
If the government loses the case, it faces fines of millions of
pounds per day until it brings UK law in line with European law.