UK Liberty

Who remains to give surveillance powers to?

Posted in politicians on liberty, privacy, surveillance society by ukliberty on February 12, 2009

The Telegraph:

Towns halls, along with police, security services and other public bodies will be able to view “communications” details of any one suspected of crime.

But critics fear the move will simply pave the way for authorities to spy on millions of citizens and taxpayers.

The power is contained in a new statutory order quietly laid before parliament yesterday.

If approved, it will come into effect from next month and cost the public more than £46 million to set up and run over the next eight years. …

Since 2007, phone companies have had to retain data about calls for 12 months and hand it over to more than 650 public bodies.

Parliament approved the powers, described as a vital tool against terrorism, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

But under the latest order that is to be extended to all communications, including the internet.

It is implementing the controversial EU Directive 2006/24/EC, on the retention of communications data, said records would only be available “to assist in the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime”.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: “It is the Government’s priority to protect public safety and national security.

It is not the Government’s duty, however, to prioritise public safety or national security above all other considerations.

That is why we are completing the implementation of this directive, which will bring the UK in line with our European counter parts.

“Communications data is the what, where and when of the communication and plays a vital part in a wide range of criminal investigations, and prevention of terrorists attacks as well as contributing to public safety more generally. Without communications data resolving crimes such as the Rhys Jones murder would be very difficult if not impossible.

OK, he either does not know what he is talking about or he is deliberately conflating intrusive surveillance (e.g. bugs) – which aided the convictions in the Rhys Jones case – with mass surveillance (e.g. recording everyone’s telecoms), i.e. lying.

“Access to communications data is governed by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which ensures that effective safeguards are in place and that the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so”.

Another falsehood – the law does not “ensure” that “effective safeguards are in place” or “that the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so”, any more than it ensures I can’t make defamatory claims about Coaker’s predilection for terminological inexactitude.


No means no

Posted in privacy by ukliberty on February 12, 2009


Controversial plans to force GPs to send their PCT a list of patients who had opted out of the Summary Care Record have been dropped after fears the request could breach confidentiality.

The U-turn by NHS Lincolnshire, one of the first trusts to take part in the care records rollout, comes after Pulse revealed earlier this month that GPs were to be told to hand over patients’ details so they could be ‘invited to the surgery to discuss it further.’

Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Yateley in Hampshire who has already opted out hundreds of his patients, welcomed the move – but warned that patients who had opted out should not be asked to reconsider at all.

‘Instead of NHS Lincolnshire pursuing patients and not accepting opt outs, now it’s the GPs themselves, or that’s how it will look,’ he said. ‘Just how many times do you have to say ‘No’ to uploading your medical records before Connecting for Health will accept it?’

Pharmacists to have access to medical records

Posted in privacy by ukliberty on February 12, 2009

No offence intended to pharmacists, but why don’t we just publish all our medical records in local and national press, our websites etc?  

Pharmacists will gain access to the Summary Care Record for the first time under plans by NHS IT chiefs, Pulse can reveal.

In a key step towards Government proposals for pharmacies to take on more clinical work, pilots are being considered in community pharmacies across the country.

The plan has provoked concern among GPs over the confidentiality of patient data, but a spokesperson from Connecting for Health said it was a ‘positive move’ for the rollout of the hugely delayed care record.

‘We have been talking to pharmacists in Bradford about the potential of having pilots in that area. The pilots will involve pharmacists having full access to viewing a patient’s summary care record.

(hat-tip enbee)

Straw on the spot

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on February 12, 2009

Frances Gibb in the Times:

Magistrates have won a first-round battle over the growing use of on-the-spot fines, which they warn, are undermining public confidence in the justice system.

Last week Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, agreed to withdraw a list of 21 new offences that were to be dealt with by on-the-spot fines and said he would consult further. But possession of cannabis will still be punished by the controversial fixed-penalty notice — despite magistrates’ concerns over the mixed message that this sends out. …

The Magistrates’ Association said: “On the one hand the Government has reclassified cannabis from Class C to B, saying that it is a more serious offence. Yet at the same time, it says this can be dealt with by means of a penalty notice for disorder.

“The Government says that this gives the police more flexibility but the majority of cannabis offenders are drug addicts and need to be brought before the courts where treatment programmes can be arranged.” …

The rules are not enough

Posted in Uncategorized by ukliberty on February 12, 2009

Marcel Berlins in the Guardian:

… Perpetrators of the “I’m allowed to, therefore I’ll do it” philosophy often do not seem to understand why their conduct has drawn criticism. For them, the fact that they broke no rules or laws is a sufficient answer. They do not go on to justify the content of what they have done, only its legality. They will blame the rules and laws for having the capacity to be taken advantage of, rather than themselves, who have benefited from taking the advantage. What is missing is that little voice that tells them: “Yes, you may be entitled to do that, but it doesn’t mean you’re obliged to. There may be other factors.” The public, however, does see these other dimensions, based on decency, morality and reasonableness, rather than selfishness, arrogance and greed. …

That is not to say there should be some sort of legal sanction, just that it is a shame our beloved leaders don’t play by the spirit of the rules.