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Sam Smith's picture

We all remember the characteristics of the people we went to school with. In primary school, George was excellent at Music; Michelle aced Science in high school; Julian did that odd combination of college courses and had a problem with authority. Well, there's a national database that records all this information and more. The National Pupil Database (NPD, previously the School Census) contains over 400 variables, covers every year of a child’s education from nursery to A-levels, and anyone who attended a state school in the past ten years is included - there is no opt out. And now, the Department for Education wants to allow access to it.

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Sam Smith's picture

The UK Minister for Education, Michael Gove, today stated in Parliament that he would be moving forward his plans to open up the National Pupil Database, and announced a government consultation on the initiative. The Minister promised that "all requests to access extracts of data would go through a robust approval process and successful organisations would be subject to strict terms and conditions covering their handling and use of the data, including having appropriate security arrangements in place."

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Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan's picture

On the surface, it’s all about protecting Russian kids from internet pedophiles. In reality, the Kremlin’s new “Single Register” of banned websites, which goes into effect today, will wind up blocking all kinds of online political speech. And, thanks to the spread of new internet-monitoring technologies, the Register could well become a tool for spying on millions of Russians.

Signed into law by Vladimir Putin on July 28, the internet-filtering measure contains a single, innocuous-sounding paragraph that allows those compiling the Register to draw on court decisions relating to the banning of websites. The problem is, the courts have ruled to block more than child pornographers’ sites. The judges have also agreed to online bans on political extremists and opponents of the Putin regime.

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Bytes 4 All's picture

Modern information and communications technologies are now seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. Internet-based communications are no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity, for people across the globe. This is particularly the case in developing countries where, as well as helping individuals communicate, learn and connect, technologies play a vital role in advancing fundamental human rights and fuelling social progress.
It is therefore hardly surprising that ICTs are increasingly being cast as threats by ideologically authoritarian governments and political establishments, which are stepping up censorship and surveillance on digital communications in pursuit of control and oppressive ideals. Pakistan provides us with a disturbing example of such trends.

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Maria Xynou's picture

Today, travelling within many cities around the world comes at a cost: privacy.

Electronic ticketing systems are proliferating, but it’s not clear how much information they collect or what they do with it. Privacy International has written to 48 transport authorities and companies operating transport services across the world requesting this data.

The kinds of personal information held about users of London’s Oyster card (which is used to travel by tube, train and bus) include full name, address, telephone number, email address and password, as well as the encrypted bank details of customers who purchase Oyster products using a debit or credit card. The Oyster ticketing system also records the location, date and time whenever an Oyster card is used to validate a journey. Transport for London (TfL) are currently making changes that will see Oyster retain customers’ names and contact details for two years after a customer last uses their card or buys an Oyster product. Details of debit or credit cards used to buy Oyster products are retained for a maximum of 18 months.

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Anna Fielder's picture

Tuesday’s letter to Google CEO Larry Page, personally signed by 29 European data protection authorities, ordered the corporation (inter alia) to give users greater control over their personal information. The notions of trust and control are emphasised throughout the letter, and Google is urged to "…develop new tools to give users more control over their personal data"  and "collect explicit consent for the combination of data for certain purposes". It is good news that the regulators have investigated and exposed the reality behind Google’s claims about the high levels ‘user control’ of personal information processing on its platforms and applications.

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Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan's picture

Privacy International, Agentura.Ru, the Russian secret services watchdog, and Citizen Lab have joined forces to launch a new project entitled 'Russia’s Surveillance State'. The aims of the project are to undertake research and investigation into surveillance practices in Russia, including the trade in and use of surveillance technologies, and to publicise research and investigative findings to improve national and international awareness of surveillance and secrecy practices in Russia.  The project is made possible with support from the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, at the University of Toronto.

The project will consist of three sections:

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Dr Gus Hosein's picture

Greek newspaper To Vima reported late last night that Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros has requested the exact data of "foreign infants and young children, by country of origin, who are in nursery schools" in Greece from the Greek Ministry of Interior (the equivalent of the British Home Office or US State Department). To Vima’s headline read 'Taking a leaf out of Herod’s book'.

The request echoes earlier demands made by the party for information about immigrants’ use of national health services, and both requests give disturbing credence to pre-election statements like "if Golden Dawn are elected to parliament, we will storm hospitals as well as nurseries, and we will throw illegal immigrants and their children on the streets". There has already been a significant rise in incidents of violence against immigrants in Greece over the last six months.

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Nigel Waters's picture

APEC privacy activity has passed another milestone with the acceptance in July 2012 of the USA as the first economy to formally join the cross border privacy rules (CBPR) system. The CBPR Joint Oversight Panel (JOP), with the Canadian chair of the Data Privacy Subgroup (DPS) standing in for the US member in accordance with the ‘no conflict of interest’ provisions, accepted the US government application, which nominated the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the privacy enforcement authority and the FTC Act (15 USC 45) as the privacy law required by the CBPR protocols.

Civil society NGOs have expressed concern about the lack of transparency of the CBPR processes, about the absence of any opportunity for stakeholders to review the US case for membership, and about the unfortunate timing of announcements, with a media release from the US government preceding any official statement from APEC by several days. Technically, the process complied with all the requirements, reflecting the nature of APEC, which does not provide for peer judgements of any economy’s laws or institutions by other members.

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Anna Fielder's picture
  • Privacy International welcomes the Select Committee Inquiry. We approach the proposed EU Data Protection Framework from the perspective of individual citizens and consumers.
     
  • We consider that this Inquiry and other consultations must take into account not just considerations of burdens to business and administrations, but also the fundamental rights of individuals to privacy and data protection that the UK has to comply with as a signatory to EU treaties and conventions.
     
  • The proposed General Data Protection Regulation, on the whole, goes some way towards achieving harmonised rules across the EU and makes data protection law fit for the 21st century. It contains a number of good improvements, particularly on the rights of the data subject, and also in terms of enforcement and reddress. However, there are a number of weaknesses that can undermine these rights, so there is need for improvement.
     

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