The European Commission has today escalated its action against the UK over the alleged conflict between the UK's interception of communications regime and the Data Protection Directive. The announcement is made in this Commission press release. To find out more, and to learn why this story has a curious connection with former high-profile police chief Alison Halford, pictured, please read on...

The Commission's action was triggered by concerns over the online behavioural advertising techniques used by Phorm, reported by Datonomy earlier in the year (see "Bad Phorm" 15 April). It sent the UK government a formal notice in April.

This second stage is a (not very scary sounding) "reasoned opinion", which sets out the three alleged deficiencies in the UK's regime, which is set out in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The alleged conflicts between UK law … Continue Reading ››
Who says data protection is dull? The Telegraph has just reported (see "Jersey politician charged with leaking police report ‘to seek legal asylum’", here) that the longest-serving Jersey (Channel Islands) senator, Stuart Syvret, accused of leaking a police report, is to claim “legal asylum” in the British House of Commons on Monday because he believes he will not get fair trial on the island. Just days before he was due in court last week charged with breaching data protection laws, the former health and social services minister on the channel island, instead fled to London seeking asylum. A warrant has now been issued for his arrest.

The senator, a “whistleblower” who claimed that island officials covered up child abuse at Jersey’s Haut de la Garenne children’s home, said he would not get a fair trial on the … Continue Reading ››
The International Journal of Law and Information Technology (IJLIT), a handsomely-produced three-times-a-year journal from Oxford University Press which is going quarterly in 2010, has asked me to draw the attention of Datonomy readers to two articles which touch on data protection issues, both of which are available to read online without charge. They are
* "When Rights Clash Online: The Tracking of P2p Copyright Infringements v the EC Personal Data Directive" by Okechukwu Benjamin Vincents (click here to read)

* "The "Final" Privacy Frontier? Regulating Trans-Border Data Flows" by Gehan Gunasekara (click here to read).
The IJLIT website contains lots of information about the journal and its distinguished editorial panel, together with instructions for would-be authors, subscription data and the contents of the current edition.
On Monday the Court of Appeal for England and Wales (Lords Justices Waller, Carnwath and Hughes) gave their decision in Chief Constable of Humberside Police and others v The Information Commissioner and the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 1079, following a three-day hearing in June.

The Court of Appeal reversed a decision of the Information Tribunal to order the deletion from the police national computer (PNC) of details of five old criminal convictions (nb the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 makes provision for the disregarding of 'spent' convictions for various purposes). According to the Tribunal, the police didn't have to keep conviction data on the PNC if it was no longer required for their core police operational purposes, rejecting evidence that the convictions had some value for those core purposes.

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Various measures to toughen UK data protection enforcement have been in the pipeline for some time. Recent statements by the the Ministry of Justice indicate that certain of these could be brought into force as soon as next "red tape day", i.e. 6 April 2010. Part of the problem with tracking the myriad proposed changes to UK data protection legislation is that they are currently dotted about in various Bills, Acts and SIs, all at different stages of the legislative obstacle race. This Datonomist does not mind admitting she finds it hard to keep up!

The first of the changes on the near hoizon is the proposal to introduce custodial sentences of up to two years for the offence under section 55 of the DPA of knowing or reckless misuse of personal data. This is contained in an MOJ consultation paper published on … Continue Reading ››
Few could have envisaged, when data protection legislation was mooted back in the previous century, that it would sow the seeds of discord between the public sector and, er, the public sector in quite the way it has done. The Telegraph reports that London's Metropolitan Police staff are threatening to withhold detailed records on staff fitness, training and even marital status on the grounds that (i) the amount of information required is excessive and (ii) in light of the Government's track record, they have grave anxieties as to how it is to be used and protected.

The data is required for the creation of a new online data hub where civil servants can access statistics for research. Delivery of the data is said to be likely to cost the Met around £100,000.
I've spent the day wondering why I've heard nothing about Case C-28/08 P Commission of the European Communities v The Bavarian Lager Co. Ltd, even though Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston QC has delivered herself of a 226-paragraph provisional Opinion today. It's a data protection issue.

The Bavarian Lager Co. Ltd, disappointed that the Commission had discontinued proceedings against the United Kingdom for allegedly breaching Community regulations by keeping Bavarian brews out of British pubs, wanted the names of a number of parties who attended a meeting in 1996, during the course of the Commission's administrative procedures, which Bavarian Lager wished to attend but was not permitted to do so. Supported by the European Data Protection Supervisor, the company sued to get those names. The Court of First Instance annulled the Commission's decision not … Continue Reading ››