16 August 2013 — NO2ID
Edited by Daryl Worthington and James Baker
++’NOTHING TO HIDE’ CLAIM A NONSENSE OVER SNOWDEN REVELATIONS++
By James Baker
The argument that law abiding citizens have nothing to hide from the database state has once again been blown out of the water with revelations about GCHQ’s Tempora programme.
These revelations have only come to light thanks to the whistle blower Edward Snowden. The programme of mass surveillance uncovered shows that the British spy centre GCHQ has been harvesting millions of emails, phone calls and Skype conversations from undersea fibre optic cables. The information collected is then stored on a database system for weeks.
The information collected represents a window into our innermost lives: the messages we send to our loved-ones, children, bosses, friends and colleagues are all being indiscriminately spied on. It is a massive abuse of the privacy of law abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong.
Privacy International are taking legal action against the programme. Their lawyers are arguing that the programme is not necessary or proportionate. Their claim is being submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).
These shocking revelations demonstrate the need for new protections of privacy in law. The same ones we have been asking for since 2010:
> We demand in the name of privacy and liberty that:
> Government bodies must cease all unnecessary collection of personal information about law-abiding citizens of the United Kingdom.
> The passing of personal information between government bodies, or using it for new purposes, without the genuine, informed consent of the persons concerned or a specific warrant from a court must stop.
> We call on the government to:+
> Establish positive protections on law for individual privacy
> Give everyone a right to compensation from anyone who uses our personal information in an unauthorised way.
++MEDCONFIDENTIAL WINS RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF GP EXTRACTION SERVICE++
The MedConfidential campaign has won the right to opt out of the GP extraction service (GPES). This system has been built into your GP records and if you don’t take action now significant amounts of our medical records including identifiable information could be uploaded on a monthly basis and shared with organisations within and outside of the NHS.
Your GP should have informed you of how you can opt out of the new system, however there are currently no plans to directly inform us the patients about these changes. This means even if you have opted out of the Summary Care Records you have to opt out again, your existing privacy preferences will not be honoured. This ‘Facebook’ model of privacy means we as patients are forced to keep opting out of systems most people probably don’t even know exist.
We do know that there are currently a hundred GP surgeries that have already started uploading patient’s medical details as part of a pilot scheme. If you are concerned about these proposals you should talk to your GP about them and the choice about whether you want to opt out. If you find out your own GP surgery is part of this pilot and you were not consulted about having your medical records uploaded we would like to know about it.
In due course NO2ID will be producing leaflets explaining how patients can opt out and providing a model letter to do so. Sadly as the mechanism is currently so unclear, we are advising for the time being that people speak to their GP about the GPES.
Please contact Phil Booth at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and details.
++SCOTLAND WAKES UP TO HOLYROOD’S OWN ID CARD++
Dr John Welford has become so frustrated with the political invisibility of the privacy problems of the Scottish Entitlement Card scheme that he has taken out a full-page ad in the Glasgow Herald to tell people about it.
Calling it the ‘Scottish Identity Card Scandal’, Dr. John Welford points out that though Scottish politicians opposed the UK Home Office ID scheme in government they have for several years been enrolling Scots in something very similar: a card to be used for a variety of official purposes, backed by a database of personal details. Anyone taking up a bus pass or Young Scot Card issued by the Scottish Government since 2006 has simply been added to the database. Few will have realised.
There is some current alarm over unrelated Scottish schemes for data-sharing on citizens. But the entitlement card scheme is much more open to abuse, should any future government decide to take advantage of it. People are waking up to threats to their privacy in a connected world.
John is hosting a copy of the advert on his website for anyone who wants to view it.
++ID IN THE NEWS++
+How can we invest our trust in a government that spies on us? (Guardian, 24th June)+
‘If you are a law abiding citizen of this country, going about your business and your personal life, you have nothing to fear.’ That’s how William Hague, the foreign secretary, responded to the revelations of mass surveillance in the US and the UK. Try telling that to Stephen Lawrence’s family.
Four police officers were deployed to spy on the family and friends of the black teenager murdered by white racists. The Lawrences and the people who supported their fight for justice were law abiding citizens going about their business.’
+MP wants views on internet ‘snooping’ (Nottingham Post, 25th June)+
‘A Notts MP is asking for the public’s views on allegations made by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden that internet and email data may have been accessed by the British intelligence agency GCHQ.
Chris Leslie, the MP for Nottingham East, wants to see if people in his constituency want a national inquiry into the extent of the agency’s operations.
He said ‘Whatever the truth, we need safeguards to prevent intrusion and snooping unless there is a clear legal justification.’
+Snooper’s charter has practically zero chance of becoming law, say senior MP’s +(Guardian, 27th June)
‘Labour’s Tom Watson and Tory David Davis say Guardian revelations mean data communications bill is probably doomed.
The chances of Theresa May reintroducing her ‘snooper’s charter’ communications data bill are practically zero in the wake of the Guardian’s disclosures on the scale of internet surveillance, leading Tory and Labour civil liberties campaigners have said.
David Davis, a former contender for Conservative leadership, and Tom Watson, the Labour deputy chair, both said on Thursday they felt there had been a change in the atmosphere at Westminster compared to the ‘great rush’ to legislate in the immediate aftermath of the Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Both MPs said the disclosure of the mass harvesting of personal communications, including internet data, by the American National Security Agency and Britain’s eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, had shown that the existing UK regulatory framework was completely ineffective.’
+How’s my searching? Police hit wrong gang targets due to old intelligence +
(The Independent, 7th July)
‘British police forces are using ‘unregulated’ and ‘out of date’ databases of suspected gang members to decide who to stop and search, according to new research.
The authors of the study argue that individuals are being too easily placed on such databases, often on the basis of weak evidence.
As a result they say people are being unfairly and repeatedly stopped and searched.
They also claim that names are remaining on the police intelligence records even after a person has cut ties with a gang because of failures to update the information.’
+Bug found in Post Office row computer system (BBC, 8th July)+
‘The Post Office has admitted that software defects occurred with a computer system at the centre of a bitter dispute with some of its 11,500 sub-postmasters across the UK.
More than 100 say they were wrongly prosecuted or made to repay money after computers made non-existent shortfalls.
Some of them lost their homes as a result and a few went to prison.’
CalPERS holds off on launching pension database (The Sacramento Bee, 11th July)
‘Amid an outcry from worried retirees, a law suit threat and talk of legislative action, CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) on Wednesday delayed plans to launch a website that would disclose pensioners’ names, their retirement allowances and other public pension information.
Leaders of the 1.6 million-member pension fund had intended to start the searchable database this month, but applied the breaks after government retiree and employee groups said they will ask lawmakers to narrow public information laws to shield some retiree personal data.’
Anglo-Saxon spies: German National Security Is at Stake (Der Spiegel, 24th June)
‘Overzealous data collectors in the US and Great Britain have no right to investigate German citizens. The German government must protect people from unauthorised access by foreign intelligence agencies, and it must act now. This is a matter of national security.
‘Germany’s security is being defended in the Hindu Kush, too,’ Peter Stuck, who was Germany’s defence minister at the time, said in 2002. If that’s true, then the government should also be expected to defend the security of its people at their own doorstep. Because the massive sniffing out of data of all kinds that of citizens and businesses, newspapers, political parties, government agencies is in the end just that, a question of security. It is about the principles of the rule of law. And it is a matter of national security.’
++LOCAL GROUPS NEWS++
NO2ID Edinburgh will be continuing to run its street campaigning stall every Saturday, weather permitting.
They shall be at their regular location at the east end of Princes Street, opposite the Balmoral Hotel, from 1pm to 3pm each Saturday. Please stop by for a chat, or else to sign the petition and collect some leaflets and a badge. You can also obtain a copy of the Second Edition of the NO2ID booklet ‘Your information and your rights: protecting yourself from the database state.’
For further information and contact details go to:
NO2ID’s Regional Co-ordinator for Scotland and Glasgow, Dr. Geraint Bevan had a letter published in the Herald Scotland entitled ‘Transparency on Surveillance’.
The letter questions Alison Rowat’s article on the 5th July in the same newspaper, which suggested ‘unwarranted routine surveillance of communications to be part of an unspoken contract between governments and citizens.’
Geraint argues that ‘It is naive to assume that surveillance without judicial oversight is always undertaken in the interests of the public rather than for the political benefits of official agencies.’ He argues ‘that there must be transparency in the rules governing surveillance, rules which must be enforced and overseen by the courts.’
The full letter can be found on The Herald’s website at:
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