Tag Archives: information commissioner

An open letter to Jeremy Browne MP…Part 2: Problems at the Home Office

Dear Jeremy,

In part 1 I explained why the Interception of Communications Commissioner is a failed regulator and one the Home Office should be fixing, yet your civil servants have been reluctant to do so. That should give a pause for thought about the proposals Home Office civil servants keep on pushing to extend the ability of the government to snoop on what we do online.

So too should the way in which the Home Office regularly changes its views of what counts as being in the national interest or vital for the fight against crime, and indeed makes outlandish claims …

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An open letter to Jeremy Browne MP on civil liberties… Part 1: The failed regulator

Dear Jeremy

I doubt that in amongst all the ludicrously large number of issues that pass across the desk of a minister, and a Home Office one no less, you will have noticed a small victory I scored over the Home Office recently.

But I hope you’ll give a pause for thought to the implications of the ruling the Information Commissioner made in my favour over the Home Office (decision notice reference FS50469527).

Partly it’s because of what it says about the never-quite-dead proposals for a huge expansion of monitoring of our online activity. Partly it’s because of what the case reveals …

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Rennie: SNP’s assertions blown apart by fact

Scotland has had its share of political drama these past ten days. First there was the Edinburgh Agreement which saw Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore given an honourable mention by CentreForum. Then the Scottish Liberal Democrats unveiled their vision for Home Rule and a federal UK. Then last Friday, the SNP abandoned their opposition to NATO membership ahead of the Independence Referendum, a decision led to the resignation of two of their MSPs. This leaves Alex Salmond’s Government with a tiny single vote majority in Holyrood. In practice, though, the two MSPs will mostly vote with the Government.

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Information Commissioner sounds warning over Draft Communications Data Bill

An important intervention today in the debate over the Draft Communications Data Bill. The Information Commissioner has issued a strongly-worded warning about its impact if implemented:

Plans to monitor all Britons’ online activity risk uncovering “incompetent criminals and accidental anarchists” rather than serious offenders, the information commissioner has warned…

Christopher Graham said the “really scary people” could simply avoid detection by changing their behaviour…

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More power to Parliament over the appointments to key posts?

More Parliamentary hearings before people are appointed to key posts could be on the way as the BBC’s Mark D’Arcy reports:

One of the areas where the Commons committee system has been quietly accumulating extra clout is over the appointments of key quangocrats, industry regulators and similar posts.

These are figures with enormous powers – and the pressure to legitimise them through some kind of parliamentary approval system has been building for quite a while.

Now MPs are trying to formalise their gains and set out an explicit system for approving them – both to probe their attitudes and priorities and to

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The Independent View: The bigger picture on privacy

Amongst the frenzy of the phone hacking scandal Philip Virgo has recalled operation Motorman. This investigation by the Information Commissioner and follow-up report What Price Privacy Now studies and provides details of the illegal trade in personal private information. Rather than being limited to the phone hacking scandal, the report suggests this trade was widespread between newspapers, private investigators and corrupt officials.

This report was presented to the previous government that failed to act upon it and halt the illegal trade in personal information. It is with unfortunate irony that members of that previous government including Lord Prescott …

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Chris White writes: silencing the whistleblowers

Hertfordshire County Council has just received a £100,000 fine for breaching the Data Protection Act. The charge sheet as published by the Information Commissioner is serious.

The council had faxed confidential details about a child abuse cases to the wrong number that of a private individual (P). On the day the Information Commissioner’s staff were at the council persuading them to change their practices to prevent further breaches, another fax, containing confidential and sensitive details of care proceedings, was wrongly sent to a set of lawyers’ chambers.

The Information Commissioner clearly wanted to make an example of the council, …

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Met Police and Home Office put on special measures for breaking rules

One for the bureaucratic irony files this. The Information Commissioner has announced that 33 public sector bodies have so regularly broken the rules on responding to Freedom of Information requests that they have been put in special measures.

The 33 bodies are all being required to fully document how they handle future requests and report monthly to the Information Commissioner on how they are doing are complying with the rules. Their record will be reviewed in three months time.

Home Office frontage. Photo credit: </a srcset=

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Information Commissioner upholds complaint over Tony Blair’s activities

During the general election campaign I highlighted how TonyBlair4Labour, the official vehicle for Tony Blair’s campaigning on behalf of the Labour Party, looked to be illegally exporting data overseas.

The Information Commission has now (finally) ruled on my complaint, agreeing that the organisation had indeed failed to follow data protection rules properly and is now writing to instruct that this is fixed. As with my complaint about Unite breaking data protection rules during the election (also upheld), the Information Commissioner only took action after the election was over – hardly ideal as in both cases it was an issue …

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Information Commissioner writing to Unite over its data protection approach

A footnote to my post from the general election campaign, Hasn’t Charlie Whelan admitted Unite is breaking the law?. Finally, after nearly three months the Information Commissioner has ruled on the complaint and is writing to Unite to “recommend” they change their data protection registration.

As to why the Information Commission didn’t take any action whilst all the phoning was going on and instead waited until the phoning was all over, the data gathered, the data used, the votes all cast and the results decided? The Information Commissioner’s office says “Please accept my apologies”. Not quite regulation at its best.

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Ashcroft’s tax status: Tory leadership “evasive and obfuscatory”

Today’s Guardian reports:

The Conservative leadership is today accused of being “evasive and obfuscatory” over the tax status of Lord Ashcroft, the party’s deputy chairman and biggest donor, in a ruling by the information commissioner that sharply criticises the secrecy over where he is resident for tax purposes.

The Cabinet Office has been ordered to reveal within 35 days the nature of the undertaking Ashcroft made to become domiciled in the UK when he became a peer in 2000. … Ashcroft made a promise to become a permanent resident of the UK as a condition of his ennoblement in 2000, a

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