Tag: information commissioner

ICO confirms Google must change privacy policy

The Information Commissioner’s Office has today written to Google, confirming that its privacy policy was not specific enough and that the updated policy raises “serious questions about its compliance with the UK Data Protection Act”.

The ICO said the updated policy doesn’t inform users enough about how Google will use their data across their products.

Google now must change its privacy policy to clear it up for individual users, and failure to do so will leave it open to “the possibility of formal enforcement action”.

In June this year, Google was told to bin Street View data it “mistakenly collected” and accidentally held onto by the ICO, but was let off without a fine.  

The ICO promised it would be keeping a close eye on Google’s actions, and the ruling came as Google was placed under scrutiny by other European countries and the European Commission itself. 

Indeed, the ICO was working in tandem with other members of the Article 29 Working Party – 27 other authorities from around Europe – and promises to work towards protecting individual privacy.  

So far, the EC has posed the most serious threat to Google. Failure to comply with EC orders could actually touch Google’s profits in a significant sense, compared to the hundred thousand or tens of millions it gets threatened with elsewhere. 

Cabbies protest Big Brother CCTV Oxford scheme

I arrive at McCarran airport and join the line for taxis – the cabbie picks me up and I give my destination, the Golden Nugget in “Old” Las Vegas. We establish pretty soon that we both have Scottish origins, he says he used to work at the Nugget but now Las Vegas is too squeaky clean.

I ask him why. He tells me there are too many CCTVs in Las Vegas – they have them in cabs combined with face recognition software. I know this, because last time I was at CES some four years or so ago, they’d just installed them.

Fast forward and it’s Oxford, Engerland. The Oxford Mail splashes a story about a hundred cab drivers protesting at Oxford City Council’s plan to film people in the back of the cab. The toothless Information Commissioner is “reviewing” the plan and deciding whether it is lawful or not. The cabbies feel they can regulate their passengers well enough thank you very much Fascist Oxford City Council.

Customers are against the plans too, and you can see why, can’t you? What if an adulterous couple gets in the back of a car and canoodle away only to be faced with blackmail or worse when a Jobsworth looks over the footage. Or worse, what if the Jobsworth discovers that it is his wife canoodling with a stranger? It is a recipe for an Inspector Morse story.

Here’s a true story from the computer industry. This suit we knew said that his wife had divorced him. Why? He’d taken his bit of fluff to the Caribbean – I have to go to this boring conference, love – and they were in the swimming pool having a cocktail.

Fast forward two months. His missus goes into the local Thomas Cook and on the front of one of the brochures is a picture of her man with this woman, in the swimming pool, having a cocktail and apparently a whale of a time.

Like, Oxford City Council, why don’t you mind your own business? The biggest problem the local drivers have is with drunken students vomiting inside. And every fule knows that if some crazy terrorist is hell bent on putting himself into hell, they can’t really be stopped.

This is a small city. Here’s what the Oxford Mail has the Information Commissioner say: “I can’t tell you absolutely positively that it is going to go ahead.”

Google dragged in front of ICO for privacy lecture

Google has been hauled in for a ticking off by the mostly gummy UK’s Information Commissioner Office over its famously poor attitude to privacy.

The nosey-parker search giant has been handed a list of recommendations for ways to improve its approach to handling sensitive data.

Following the Wi-Fi data debacle last year Google agreed to be dragged in for an audit to review its behaviour like an errant school kid. Whether Eric Schmidt has been forced to write ‘I will not steal people’s private’ a hundred times on the blackboard is not clear at this point, but we reckon it woud not be an adequate punishment.

The ICO report card has found that while Google had taken actions to improve its behaviour it can most certainly apply itself a bit more in some areas.  Specifically Google should put more effort into informing its users of privacy rules.

The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham distanced himself from any type of endorsement of Google however, stating that “the ICO’s Google audit is not a rubber stamp for the company’s data protection policies”.

He also said that company needs to ensure that “its work in this area continues to evolve alongside new products and technologies”, warning that “Google will not be filed and forgotten by the ICO”.

And it is probably only a matter of time before Google is dragged by its ear back into the Information Commissioner’s office. Eventually. After the farce.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently regaled an audience of the possible dangers inherent in the tidal wave of information that is growing – as mind boggling amounts of data are sent through the internet.

Doing little to allay fears of megalomaniacal intentions for the company, Schmidt has offered up some choice quotes. There’s a good list from Techonomy here.

Concerning the move towards transferring zetabytes online, Schimdt famously said: “people aren’t ready for the technology revolution that’s going to happen to them.”

“If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use Artificial Intelligence, we can predict where you are going to go,” Schmidt said we imagine with the air of a heavy-breathing stalker.

He also highlighted the potential for social network sites to invade privacy, something that is certainly not a far off notion:

“Show us 14 photos of yourself and we can identify who you are. You think you don’t have 14 photos of yourself on the internet? You’ve got Facebook photos! People will find it’s very useful to have devices that remember what you want to do, because you forgot.”

“In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it.”

A reformed character then?   

NHS loses 8 million patient records from one PC

Some clever soul kept 8 million hospital patient records on one laptop. And it’s gone missing, according to The Current Bun.

It reportedly contained highly sensitive details of 8.63 million people – along with all the ins and outs of 18 million hospital visits including operations and procedures. It’s quite possible some Joe Blogs knows about that hernia from last summer.

More worryingly, it reportedly contains highly sensitive details about HIV, mental illness, cancer and abortions.

It was one of 20 machines to be enjoying the Scotch Mist, held in a store room in London.

Coppers are irritated that the loss had been reported late. Meanwhile, the Information Commissioner, perceived by some as toothless, is sharpening its gums to mull over the case. 

No one has publicly gone on record about the machines – it’s unclear if they were mistakenly dumped or just plain nicked. Similarly no one has owned up to taking the train drunk following an after-work party. It could be on the circle line.

The Sun reports that each laptop was worth £10,000 – but that’s more likely what the NHS paid for them.