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. …

Investigatory Powers revisited

Investigatory Powers revisited

In December, the CJEU stated that the British and Swedish investigatory powers laws were in contravention to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. This was in the case of the UK partly based on the litigation started by Tom Watson MP, initially with David Davies MP. This was reported in the Register, here, and the Guardian here.  The Open Rights Group have asked for people to engage in the Home Office consultation; they propose to put a judicial warrant requirement on investigation requests for suspect internet data. This blog discusses my contribution. If you want to follow me, you’ll have to be quick the consultation closes tomorrow. …

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. …

No safe space

No safe space

I made a storify after the election, and its terrorist disruption about the, mainly Tory response in blaming the internet. I don’t make the point that the Northern Ireland “troubles” were pre-internet but I do talk about the Tories, and May’s instinctive response is to censor and silence dissidents. I also point to Amnesty International’s critical report on the UK’s surveillance laws. I transferred this to the blog, as at the original date of publication, once Storify announced they were abandoning their service.

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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.  …

Oi!, You! No snooping on my emails and chat!

Oi!, You! No snooping on my emails and chat!

Earlier this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered its judgement on the legality of the UK & Swedish data retention and surveillance laws. They confirmed their ruling from 2015 that general monitoring is illegal, that retention must be specific and is only allowed to combat serious crimes, that access to surveillance records must be authorised by independent authorities and that EU data subjects must be have access to legal remediation if their rights to privacy are breached. The Guardian report on it here, the Independent here ,the Register here and even  the Daily Mash comments here. The UK’s Investigatory Powers Act also gives the government the right to mandate backdoors in UK operated communications products; these powers may also fall foul of the prohibition on general monitoring and the need for independent review. While the ruling is specific to the UK’s DRIPA law, which has now been replaced by the Investigatory Powers Act, it poses a clear challenge to the legality of the new Law. …

Last Chance

Last Chance

Given Dianne Abbott’s appointment as Shadow Home Secretary I feel there is an opportunity to change and challenge Labour’s position of abstention on the Regulatory Powers Bill. There is some urgency to this as today is the last day in which Peers can place amendments to the 3rd Reading.

The arguments in favour of passing the RPB is that the current surveillance laws are inappropriate for today’s technology and the current regulatory regime is insufficiently powerful. The arguments against are that the legalisation of past illegal practice and the authorisation of new powers are a massive breach of the rights to justice and privacy, there is zero proportionality and the proposals are of unknown effectiveness. …

Here come de Judge

Here come de Judge

The highest levels of international judiciary have been busy over the last week, I report and comment on the Microsoft vs. FBI on linkedin Pulse, in an article called “Citizens Win”. It was quite simple in the end, the law under which the FBI was seeking search warrant powers was not on of the post 911 laws, but an earlier one and the US District Court says that the law grants no power of inspection abroad. The spooks are going to have to apply for an Irish warrant. In Europe however, Tom Watson’s & David Davies’s judicial review on DRIPA have reached the Advocate General. This reported by Tom Watson here, and by Glyn Moody here. Watson writes about the need for strong judicial review of the search warrants, and Moody brings up that mass surveillance can only be used in the fight against serious crime.  …

Labour’s front bench and surveillance.

Labour’s front bench and surveillance.

The Labour Campaign for Human Rights organised an event at which Kier Starmer, Labour’s shadow spokesman on the Investigatory Powers Bill, he introduced himself, and pointed to his record as a Barrister where he has been involved in a number of cases prosecuting the government, the police and the intelligence agencies and his time as DPP. He says his experience shows him the “the reality of the crimes to be fought”.  (This is not necessarily a scarce resource if you came to adulthood living in the UK in the eighties, or were working or travelling in London on 7th July 2005.) The rest of this article looks at the critiques made by the guest speakers and audience; it’s a piece of reporting, not a polemic, there’s plenty of those around. Basically the view in the room was it’s not fit for purpose, the new powers are too extensive, the old powers are too extensive, the proposed oversight remains too weak and the powers are not necessary, effective or proportionate. Those of us in the Labour Party can also add, the question where did this come from as Party policy. …

The Snooper’s Charter again! :'(

The Snooper’s Charter again! :'(

The Tory Government, have republished the Snooper’s Charter, 😥 changed some of the words and it has been inching towards the House of Commons via three parliamentary committees of experts, all of whom have criticised the Bill as it stands. The Labour Party plans to abstain on the 2nd reading, and explains why here. The campaigning academic, Paul Bernal, has written a blog, welcoming Andy Burnham’s press release as the most pro-privacy comments made by a Labour Shadow Home Secretary and makes the following comments.  …