Archive for the ‘privacy’ Tag

MPs to probe ISP snooping and throttling

MPs to probe ISP snooping and throttling

MPs have today launched an investigation into the use of snooping technology by ISPs which allows them to profile customers for advertisers and throttle or block specific types of traffic.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Communication will examine issues such as the emergence of Phorm’s profiling system, and the restriction of bandwidth available to specific applications such as BitTorrent. Both activities are reliant on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology.

“Now the Internet is part of daily life, concerns are increasingly raised about a wide range of online privacy issues,” the group said in a background statement.

“Should there be changes to individual behaviour? Should companies be pressed to prioritise privacy issues? Or is there a need for specific regulations that go beyond mere ‘data protection’ and address privacy directly?”


Village mob thwarts Google Street View car

Village mob thwarts Google Street View car

A spate of burglaries in a Buckinghamshire village had already put residents on the alert for any suspicious vehicles. So when the Google Street View car trundled towards Broughton with a 360-degree camera on its roof, villagers sprang into action. Forming a human chain to stop it, they harangued the driver about the “invasion of privacy”, adding that the images that Google planned to put online could be used by burglars.

As police made their way to the stand-off, the Google car yielded to the villagers. For now, Broughton remains off the internet search engine’s mapping service.

It was Paul Jacobs who provided the first line of resistance. “I was upstairs when I spotted the camera car driving down the lane,” he said. “My immediate reaction was anger; how dare anyone take a photograph of my home without my consent? I ran outside to flag the car down and told the driver he was not only invading our privacy but also facilitating crime.”

He then ran round the village knocking on doors to rouse fellow residents. While the police were called, the villagers stood in the road, not allowing the car to pass. The driver eventually did a U-turn and left.

‘Do not touch’ – the covert database that kept union activists out of work

‘Do not touch’ – the covert database that kept union activists out of work

For years, 66-year-old Ian Kerr has run his business quietly in a first-floor office in the Worcestershire town of Droitwich. There was no nameplate for his premises, which was protected by a green door, and workers in the neighbouring shops either failed to notice him or thought he was a little mysterious.

“Oh yes, Ian,” said one. “He has been there for years. We never really knew what he does – probably works for MI5 or something.”

Kerr did not work for the security services, but the world he operated in was certainly a private one, and it can be exposed today because of an investigation by the office of the information commissioner, Richard Thomas.

Thomas, whose watchdog is entrusted with maintaining the public’s privacy, believes Kerr has spent 15 years compiling and maintaining a huge database on 3,200 workers from around the country.


Details of workers’ trade union activities and past employment conduct were recorded on cards.

One individual was said to be a “poor timekeeper, will cause trouble, strong TU [trade union]”. Another card referred to a member of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians as “Ucatt … very bad news”.

A member of the Transport and General Workers Union was described as “a sleeper and should be watched”. One entry on a worker simply said: “Do not touch !”

Chaotic Coroners and Justice Bill reels into view

Chaotic Coroners and Justice Bill reels into view

While the question of whether cartoon images of children should fall foul of the law has aroused debate, the recently published Coroners and Justice Bill contains more than a few changes that may prove just as controversial.

A reaffirmation of the penalties for anyone “aiding or abetting suicide” via the internet is one such measure. Then, too, there is the attempt to remove a recently passed “opt out” to the Law on incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation.

The same bill also includes provisions previously covered by The Register enabling easier transfer of personal data between government departments, plus provisions about the use of video recording in respect of sex offences. Removal of the defence of provocation in murder trials is in there, nestling alongside regulations in respect of the finding of “treasure”… And on and on.

Winding its way through 160 clauses, 21 schedules – not to forget some 993 paragraphs of explanatory notes – it is a “pic’n’mix” approach to law-making, lurching from measures that impinge on our most fundamental rights (such as the clauses on data-sharing) and back again to the fussy and trivial such as retention of knives seized by court officials, or reduced sentences for disqualified drivers who agree to undertake training.

Police set to step up hacking of home PCs

Police set to step up hacking of home PCs

THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.

The move, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.

The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.

Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging.

Ohio prof develops CCTV people-tracker ‘ware

Ohio prof develops CCTV people-tracker ‘ware

Boffins in Ohio have taken another step towards the global surveillance panopticon of the future, developing software which can autonomously track an individual through a city using CCTV cameras.

James W Davis, associate prof at the Ohio State computer science and engineering department, developed the new spyware with the aid of grad student Karthik Sankaranarayanan.

Davis and Sankaranarayanan’s code works by using a pan-tilt-zoom camera to create a panoramic image of its entire field of view, and then linking each ground pixel in the picture to a georeferenced location on a map. This means that when the camera sees a person or vehicle, the computer also knows in terms of map coordinates where it is looking.

That in turn makes it possible for a new camera to be trained on the target as he/she/it passes out of the first one’s field of view. In this way, a subject can be followed automatically anywhere that the monitoring computer has CCTV coverage. There’s no need for a human operator to manually train cameras around, using up man-hours and sooner or later making a mistake and losing track.

Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database

Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database

A senior Vodafone network architecture specialist has been appointed by Jacqui Smith to draw up proposals for a multibillion pound central silo of communications data, amid a Whitehall row about the future of the project, The Register has learned.

The Home Office team responsible for the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) have been told to make the case for the expansion of state surveillance it would involve again, according to insiders.

The plans were originally put forward by intelligence chiefs to “maintain capability” to intercept communications as use of internet-based technology – such as BT’s new 21CN backbone – grows. Opponents have labelled such claims the “keep running to stand still” strategy, a satirical reference to Alice Through the Looking Glass.

In response to the civil service controversy over IMP, Jacqui Smith announced in October that the Communications Data Bill – the legislation that would mandate the project – would not come before Parliament during the current session. It began on December 3 and runs until the end of October 2009. Instead she said there will be a public consultation beginning in January.

Sources said the several dozen officials working on IMP recently moved away from the “hot house” atmosphere surrounding it in the Home Office to occupy government offices at Great George Street (known as GOGGS), off Parliament Square. The Home Office also recently created a director-level position to take charge of the project and installed the Vodafone man.

First identity cards issued to foreign nationals in Sheffield

First identity cards issued to foreign nationals in Sheffield

HOME OFFICE News Release (234/2008) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 17 December 2008

For the first time, foreign nationals in Sheffield can enrol for identity cards containing their facial image and fingerprints, the Home Secretary announced during a visit to the city today.

ID cards will securely lock foreign nationals to one identity and help businesses crack down on illegal working.

Biometric enrolment for the cards – which involves individuals having their digital photograph and fingerprints recorded – will take place at the UK Border Agency’s Vulcan House building. The Home Secretary opened the building today and met some of the 1,900 staff working there.

The Home Secretary also met staff working on the new Australian-style points system for migrant workers – which also operates from the new building. The points system is the UK’s tough new measure for managing migration to the UK.

BNP expects more arrests over leaked membership list

BNP expects more arrests over leaked membership list

A COUNCILLOR who was kicked out of the BNP has been arrested in connection with the leaking of the party’s membership list.

The Post understands Sadie Graham was one of two people arrested by Notts Police officers on Thursday.

A BNP spokesman has said he expects more arrests to be made in connection with the unauthorised publication of the list last month. NOv

Simon Darby, press officer and member of the BNP, said: “News of the arrests was good because right from the onset we were under the impression that the police were taking it very seriously and were going to do something about it.

“I’m pleased because this is just the start. We expect other arrests as well.
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“What people don’t understand is that anybody that has been using the list, even newspapers, have been committing a criminal offence.”

He added: “It is a shocking thing to do to publish the list.

“It’s caused a lot of needless worry, anxiety and upset.

“We have had our privacy violated and published everywhere. We want justice for our members.”

A police car with an officer inside was parked outside Ms Graham’s home in Church Lane, Brinsley, last night.

Police were today sifting through boxes of evidence seized from her home.

Officers packed the boxes from Graham’s terraced house into unmarked cars before leaving with a woman.

Coun Graham, now an independent nationalist at Broxtowe Borough Council, was dropped from the BNP in December last year.

MPs demand investigation into unlawful police action

MPs demand investigation into unlawful police action

Comment Today’s revelation that the police raid on the offices of Damian Green, MP, had been carried out without a full warrant may yet return to haunt the police officers who authorised it.

Critics of the police are asking whether this was simple oversight, or part of a broader pattern of police setting out to ignore restraints placed by parliament on their behaviour.

A few cases reported on over the last few months give a flavour of what has been going on. In a raid on the premises of former computer forensics expert Jim Bates in September, police insisted on removing documents that both he and his solicitor claimed were directly related to an ongoing criminal trial, and therefore “privileged”.

Section 7.2 of PACE Code B, which governs police search and seizure, states: “No item may be seized which an officer has reasonable grounds for believing to be subject to legal privilege, as defined in PACE, section 10, other than under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, Part 2.”

Another seriously murky episode involved police bugging conversations between Tooting MP Sadiq Khan and one of his constituents in prison awaiting extradition for terror offences. Sir Christopher Rose investigated, and while he dished out a mild slap on the wrist to the police, he also left many questions unanswered. His report concluded, bizarrely, that the Wilson Doctrine, established in the 1970s, forbade the security services from bugging MPs where the authorisation of the Home Secretary was needed. However, it did not prohibit bugging of MPs where only the authorisation of senior police officers was required.