Whatsapp?

Whatsapp?

I am a bit confused over the whatsapp privacy update furore. Whatsapp say it’s only about business correspondence, Alec Muffet agrees, and so does the Independent Schneier thinks it’s a bad thing, and points at Nick Slatt’s article which adds to my confusion by pointing out that early users of whatsapp had the opportunity to deny Facsebook access to their data and that European users are managed under a different policy to ensure Facebook’s compliance with the GDPR. I am an early user and so they shouldn’t be mining my address book however they maybe doing so for my correspondents, particularly any US correspondents. However, I wonder if they or Facebook still consider the UK regime as equivalent to that of European Union, the Independent article confirms it does. I don’t consider the update notice to be a collection of consent that is freely given nor ‘informed’, as the future purpose is not clear, at least not to me but I may not have to worry yet. The problem is Facebook, both the company and the service, if we’re serious about our privacy, we’d stop using it but until then they can obey the law. …

Bosses & CCTV

I wrote a piece on my linkedin blog called, “Reusing CCTV in employee relations“. I rang the ICO and was told that employers can reuse CCTV, “if they come across something they cannot reasonably ignore”. The linkedin article looks at the ramifications of this and points to the ICO document, “the employment practices code“, which states that cameras may not be covert and may not be used for general monitoring. …

A first domino?

Carol Cadwalladr and others are speculating that the US Federal Trade Commission plan to fine Facebook $5bn for its privacy law breaches. This is reported today in the New York Times, in an article, Facebook Expects to Be Fined Up to $5 Billion by F.T.C. Over Privacy Issues. This documents the breaches which focus on Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit time span and the laws. $5bn is a lot, the EU only fined Google €1.5bn. I posted the NYT article on Facebook with the following comment.

But he still won’t come to the UK to testify to the DCMS select committee, although I have sympathy with the argument that if we aren’t investigating our citizens who have broken the law, why should he put himself at the front of the queue.

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Do the right thing!

A new linkedin blog by me on the fine print of the GDPR’s “legitimate interest”. The print is not so fine, and in summary, you don’t need to read the fine print to do the right thing.

When claiming a legitimate interest, the privacy rights of data subjects are established as controlling the data processor/controller’s legitimate interest by the requirement to recognise the “fundamental rights and freedoms” of the data subject. The “fundamental rights and freedoms” are defined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights

Due to indirection and thus undocumented nature of the data subject’s consent inherent in legitimate interest, I’d advise finding another lawful purpose. …

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. …