25 August 2011

Why Banning Rioters From Facebook Is Wrong


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Image: Courtesy to GossipHat

I believe you did already hear or read about David Cameron’s chimeric ideas to ban the access of the UK nationals with antisocial behaviour, also known as rioters, to Facebook.

Why chimeric?

Well, first of all, such a ban would constitute a serious and disproportionate interference with subjects’ right to privacy and free expression  and, second, the ban would prompt them to seek alternatives to the most popular social network.

In fact, Prime Minister’s proposal did not surprise me in terms of the potential human rights violations.

Such violations can be countered quite successfully and it is very, very likely that the British government

would end up in a fiasco

should it opt for the ban.

I rather wonder why the government of the appealing David Cameron would voluntarily give up its convenient

opportunity to monitor

those against whom it claims to be fighting?

It is common knowledge that Facebook cooperates with the law enforcement authorities, and the same is valid also with respect to Google and – presumably – to its newly launched social network Google + in particular.

But what would happen if the rioters focused on alternatives which are more difficult to monitor and hence less convenient to control?

Could that be the plan of the young conservative politician?

Well, that sounds like a

real conspiracy

and I can hardly imagine it.

It is rather a political shot in the dark, the implementation of which is likely to intensify the problem instead of solving it.

Your thoughts?

29 October 2009

Commission steps up UK legal action over privacy and personal data protection


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The European Commission has moved to the second phase of an infringement proceeding over the UK to provide its citizens with the full protection of EU rules on privacy and personal data protection when using electronic communications. European laws state that EU countries must ensure the confidentiality of people’s electronic communications like email or internet browsing by prohibiting their unlawful interception and surveillance without the user’s consent. As these rules have not been fully put in place in the national law of the UK, the Commission today said that it will send the UK a reasoned opinion.

Specifically, the Commission has identified

Three Gaps In the Existing UK Rules

governing the confidentiality of electronic communications, namely:

No Independent National Authority

to supervise interception of communications, although the establishment of such authority is required under the ePrivacy and Data Protection Directives, in particular to hear complaints regarding interception of communications;

No Need To Grant Explicit Consent

The current UK law the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) authorises interception of communications not only where the persons concerned have consented to interception but also when the person intercepting the communications has ‘reasonable grounds for believing’ that consent to do so has been given. These UK law provisions do not comply with EU rules defining consent as freely given specific and informed indication of a person’s wishes;

No Sanctions Against Unlawful Interception

The RIPA provisions prohibiting and providing sanctions in case of unlawful interception are limited to ‘intentional’ interception only, whereas the EU law requires Members States to prohibit and to ensure sanctions against any unlawful interception regardless of whether committed intentionally or not.

The UK has two months to reply to this second stage of the infringement proceeding. If the Commission receives no reply, or if the response presented by the UK is not satisfactory, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

To me, this is a clear signal that data protection and privacy are considered highly valuable achievements that need to be  protected within the European dimension.

28 January 2009

So, it happened again…


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What is one supposed to do in case he or she suffers a so called identity theft?
And who is to be deemed responsible therefor? The data controller, the data processor or the data subject (to stay in the definitions of the data protection legislation)?

According to this report the UK’s largest recruitment websites lost (partially sensitive!) data records of more than 4,5 Million of its subscribers.

Data and identity theft, however, seems to have some tradition in Britain and should, in my humble opinion, be questioned on the highest possible level.

This dangerous practice must be countered by appropriate measurements including both legislative and technical improvements. Alternatively we are on the best way to lose what has remained of our anyway reduced privacy.