Big Brother. No, not the TV show

The police are building a new super database combining records with “intelligence”. Liberty have withdrawn from the government consultation as they rightly feel that it’s a breach of our privacy rights and even the government admit that much/some of the data has no lawful purpose. (I see an ECHT case coming on.)

I have three comments to add.

The Guardian article states that the database will be held on a private cloud provider’s systems; if US owned, then the databases will be subject to US FISA warrants, so the “encrypted at rest” security solution had better be pretty good as the best in the world may be looking for it.

Secondly, government data leaks! The legal precedents in this country show that while the Government may build systems for one purpose, the courts may force disclosure to them in the resolution of private/civil disputes. The first Norwich Pharmacal warrant was issued against the HMRC as the plaintiff showed that the defendants tax records were relevant to the court. It seems that there is a public interest defence against these now, and ensuring the Government’s ability to keep it’s secrets would seem to be in the public interest but we’ll see.

Thirdly, the intelligence databases as noted probably fail the need for a lawful purpose, and fail to deliver most of the privacy rights legislated for by the GDPR, most obviously the need to ensure that personal data is accurate.

I am glad I am still a member of Liberty, and I’ll help them. …

Eternal vigilance

I have been pointed at China’s Social Credit Scoring plans via two routes. The first is this extract published at Wired from Rachel Botsman’s book, “Who can we trust”. This details the Chinese Governments plan to build a social credit scoring scheme, but the sources and incentives are horrendously comprehensive, including their leading match making agency. (It’s taken me some time to read this article, an I have bookmarked and annotated it in my diigo feed.) Worrying things about the Chinese scheme is that voluntary participation becomes mandatory; while rewards and incentives are at the forefront of everyone’s mind today, control and punishment is planned, in the Chinese case in the short term they are talking about foreign and domestic travel restrictions but as I note, the countries leading dating agency is one of the surveillance agencies. There is also talk of social investment loans (helicopter money) which become available on the basis of social scores.

The second route was an article on Medium by someone who got banned from AirBnB. He pointed at an article on Buzzfeed, “A Chinese-Style Digital Dystopia Isn’t As Far Away As We Think” where a series of regulatory decisions in the USA seem to be paving the way to something similar, a powerful illustration that the argument that surveillance is OK if it’s private sector is horrendously false.

One worrying aspect of the proposed Chinese system is that your reputation is as good as that of your friends and we have idiots trying to replicate it with peeple, and reading up on that has started me worrying about Linkedin and its competitors and we all know we should get off facebook.

The wired article came before machine learning and massive scale AI became a hot topic, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens to social credit scores when they let rip with the application of machine learning. The automated derivation of reputation scores also raises issues of safeguarding, libel and context. Safeguarding and libel laws require the machines to tell the truth, in fact safeguarding may require machines to hide the truth. Context requires a level of nuance that we are unsure if machines will ever have, but even if they get there, justice and judges must remain human and the code must be open; China’s & Facebook’s is not!. The GDPR gives data subjects rights, perhaps its time to revisit the seven principles.

Of course in the UK, we have our very own examples of machines and data sharing getting it wrong. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary has suspended the intra-government and some of the other immigration data sharing as a result of the backlash on the Windrush scandal. (I wonder if this I an excuse to look again at the DPA Immigration Exemption clauses.) Much of what is happening in China and the USA is also happening in the UK, it’s just that the surveillance agents are the US owned datenkraken and the British State have legalised the hacking of their data streams.

What’s happening in China is terrible, but our governments are following suit! The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. …

Losing one’s way

Over the last few days, the Guardian has broken the story of the illegal use of personal data in the US 2016 general election. We are now waiting for the trail to come back to UK politics, in particular, the use of Cambridge Analytica (or one of its associates) by the alliance of Leave organisations. The data was stolen, well acquired, from Facebook, but it seems they knew for two years and there is some argument as to their corporate complicity. Their Chief Information Security Officer has been on the way out since the end of last year and some stories suggest it’s because he argued for greater openness in co-operating with the enquiries into Russian state sourced fake news.

Citizens, their representatives and law makers have been arguing that IT companies should have a duty to report security breaches to law enforcement and the EU is introducing such a law now; such Laws exist in California which is where Facebook is headquartered. We should also note that their duty to protect their users personal data is governed by the US privacy laws, the now defunct EU Safe Harbour agreement and its successor, the Privacy Shield. In addition, the US signed up to the 7 Principles of Data Potection when first declared by the OECD.  It is a fact however, that many US business executives (and their employees) consider the European Data Protection laws as non-tariff import barriers, not that this should matter but I have no doubt that considerable time has been spent in determining where the line between legality and illegal activity stands.

There are several factors in the US political culture which often makes it hard for the US to obey foreign laws (and their own), one of them being, that they often have difficulty in legitimising their own laws and law enforcement.

This is, to me, summarised in the 10th Amendment, one of the Bill of Rights amendments to the US Constitution.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

There is a beauty to the sentiment and an economy to the words, but they are a fundamental challenge to the rule of law. (Is this a bit extreme?) The Citizen’s United ruling, which upheld the citizen’s free speech rights for an association, can be taken to mean that corporations have citizenship rights. US Laws are hard to make and often Laws re challenged in court often to the Supreme Court asking for laws to be struck down as unconstitutional. The upshot of all this is that politicaly citizens can take a view on whether a law is legal in the knowledge that if they win, unlike in Europe & the Antipodes where the Government’s have majorities in their legislatures and will rewrite the laws, they get to do what they want.

The US tradition of a people’s access to justice, showcased by the Judge Judy show is also admirable, if a bit bizarre to UK eyes but it is another dimension of the US commitment to rights and the rule of law; they’e just a bit weaker in understanding collective and inalienable rights, such as privacy (except from Government).

We also have the growing dichotomy between companies Legal and Compliance teams, with Legal advising under the protection of client/attorney privilege in the best interests of their clients and Compliance having a duty to the public advising how not to break the Law.

One can see how US Companies might lose their way. It’s nothing to be proud of though, the UK route to corruption is just shorter as currently viewing the C4 news program on Cambridge Analytica will show.

Do politicians understand? They may not understand the details of the tech., but they do understand Human Rights law and the rule of law, although some of the House of Commons are to quote the shadow chancellor “Fucking Useless”, and the select committees could do with better advisors;  the purpose of the witnesses is to deliver this advice and knowledge, but you need to know the questions and understand the answers. You need a nose for a cover up and to know the 2nd question. …

At Orgcon 17

I am just back from orgcon17, and here are my notes; this was a two day conference, with many sessions on issues of concern to digital liberty campaigners on regulation of the use personal data. It took place over two days, consisting of lectures & panels and workshops. On the first day, at Friends House, where we had the use of the amazing central meeting room it looked at the coming legislation on investigatory powers, the use of the law to make political advances (it’s slow & uncertain), an interview with Caroline Criada Perez, the campaigner who got the first woman on British bank notes and a women’s statue in Parliament Sq.. It looked at e-voting systems in Taiwan where the government used a consensus building software product to engage the population in traffic management solutions design. Jamie Bartlett spoke about privacy vs. security. There was a session on Digital Liberty & regulation in Nigeria. There was also a session on the privacy vulnerability to the coming “age verification for porn users” regulations. Much of these lectures are available on the ORG’s Video channel.

The second day consisted mainly of workshops focused on campaigning. There was a workshop that reviewed the technical architecture of the investigatory powers bill (as they then were i.e. the architecture and legislative stage). There was a workshop in using the Freedom of Information Laws to enhance campaigning, and also about the likely campaigning tools to be offered by the coming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) i.e. enhanced subject access requests, the right to be forgotten, of remediation and to object and stop processing.

There were sessions on building local Open Rights Group groups, how to perform IT security effectively for campaigners and a review of the ORG’s Blocked tool.

I chaired a session on building a Charter of Digital Rights, with Richard Barbrook and Mara Leverkuhn. Richard announced his initiative to put some more detail behind the Jeremy Corbyn’s Digital Manifesto which they created to support his 2016 Leadership Campaign. I documented/advertised this session on my blog http://davelevy.info/digital-liberties/

ooOOOoo

The relevance of this conference to CISSP certification is in the Regulation & Compliance domain. One of the critical to IT organisations is failing to keep up with laws and regulations. The ORG focuses on the law as it relates to privacy, censorship & intellectual property. Businesses need to keep these laws in mind when designing their risk taxonomy and control catalogue.

This was written in Oct 2018, nearly 12 months after the event; I did it to claim CISSP CPD Credits. I have as normal, for me, in these circumstances backdated the article to the time of occurrence. …

The Data Flow implications of Brexit

The Data Flow implications of Brexit

Project Fear or Project Reality about Brexit continues and while risks to banking, air travel, radio-therapy and the pan-European integrated manufacturing supply chains are all making the headlines, there is also a serious problem with maintaining data flows particularly of personal data, which underpins both secondary & tertiary sector industries.  This article looks at the threat to trade involving data flows posed by Brexit and looks at the likely shape of US/EU data flow and privacy regulation. …

Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

I have had a look  at the manifestos and see what they have to say on the internet and Digital Liberty. I have been very influenced by the EDRi voting exchange and summarise the issues of Digital Liberty as e-citizenship, equality before the law, privacy and copyright reform, to which for this election we must add internet governance and industrial & innovation policy. I have created a table summarising the positions of the Tories, Labour, LibDems and Greens. Possibly I should have analysed the SNP manifesto since much of this is Westmister reserved powers. I was hoping to write something easy and quick to read. I don’t think I have succeeded. My super summary is in the figure immediately below, and here is the table I built to help me write this article. (I lost the excel file, so this will have to do!)  My main source was the ORG pages but I have been reading the Labour Manifesto also. I feel that the opposition parties have suffered from the surprise; they probably expected more time to develop their promises. All three opposition parties 2015 manifestos covered these issues in more depth.  …

Fines, Enforcement and good faith

Fines, Enforcement and good faith

We then considered enforcement trends. The total number of fines is going up; the maximum under the DPA is £½ m, the maximum under the GDPR will be €20m or 4% of global turnover. Today the ICO can fine under two laws, the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulation (PECR),  which regulate Data Controllers and Processors and direct mailing houses respectively. The ICO have taken more interest in the DPA since they gained fining powers. This note looks at the record in court, the change in enforcement powers, and notes that the preponderance of fines have been levied due toinadequate technical protection. …

An overview of issues with the GDPR

An overview of issues with the GDPR

At the BCS legal day,  a presentation was made entitled “Key Issues” which they started with a quote from Jan Albrecht MEP (the Rapporteur),

“[The] result is something that makes (as we intended from the beginning) everybody equally unhappy, but at the same time is a huge step forward for all sides involved.

Jan Albrecht MEP”

It is hoped that business opportunity will be created by a harmonisation of regulation across Europe with a goal of improved privacy for its citizens. The harmonisation is constrained by the Restrictions Article, which excludes areas of law from the Regulation and creates nationally authored variances.  …

Why you should be bothered about the Snoopers Charter

Why you should be bothered about the Snoopers Charter

Late last year, the UK Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This law builds on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Acts and the Data Retention Laws. This law allows the Government to store all our electronic communications traffic, read the content and meta data and co-opt the product and service vendors to help them. I describe this in more detail below.

The Law was written in the aftermath of Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) ruling in the Schrems vs. Facebook case that the EU’s Data Retention Directive and hence the member state implementations were in contradiction to the EU’s human rights law, the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Parliament had considered aspects of these proposals twice before under the two previous administrations and rejected them.

This article looks at the new Law, criticises it on Human Rights grounds in that it jeopardises the right to privacy, the right to organise, the right to a fair trial and rights to free speech and on IT Security grounds in that the new regulation of encryption products jeopardises access to electronic trust and privacy. It also examines the likely impact of the recent CJEU ruling on the legality of its predecessor law, and in passing, likely conflicts with last year’s passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union.  …