Data protection under massive lobby attack

An unprecedented lobby effort is threatening to derail changes to data protection laws aimed at giving you new rights over your data. Lobbyists from the USA and Europe are shouting extremely loudly in an attempt to water down new regulations, which they fear will cost them money.

A year in Digital Rights

Some years you look back and think, thank God that’s over. You wonder how on earth industry lobbyists and ignorant, lazy politicians are allowed to decide the fate of our digital rights, and how they can justify the erosion of free speech and privacy that their policies will cause.

Edinburgh Turing Festival

Steve WozniakI was at the Turing Festival this week, and started off by watching Steve Wozniak talk at the Edinburgh Playhouse. That’s a seriously large venue, and it was reasonably full. Perhaps it should have been fuller. Wozniak after all is the engineer who designed the early Apple computers.

He doesn’t have the ego that Steve Jobs had, but his attitudes are much more humane and collaborative. He had the hacker mentality, that he’d want to make things work and find out…


This Spring, stories about the innocuously-titled but sinister “Communications Capabilities Development Programme” emerged, in the form of leaks and partial confirmations to Sunday newspapers.

The second story, in the Sunday Times on April Fools Day, had many people asking if this supposed plan was a joke. The CCDP, it was claimed, is a plan collect as much data as possible about who you talk to online, and when. Could such an outrageous story really be true?

Within a day, minister Theresa May was wheeled out justifying the idea by reminding people that “traffic data” had in the past been used to investigate terrorists and paedophile rings. She told the Sun:

“I’m not willing to risk more terrorist plots succeeding and more paedophiles going free …

“Data like…

Privacy battles

Every year recently, privacy threats have grabbed the headlines. Identity cards, credit cards being leaked by Sony or personal details of UK citizens being lost by government: bad systems and bad ideas seem to lead directly to serious debacles. And it is unclear if our governments know how to fix the problem.

2012 is no exception. But this year, while I can’t predict who will bungle their network security, I can tell you how the battles for our privacy rights will be shaping up.

You’ll know exactly why the problems is developing at root. Our computers are getting better and better at collecting, storing and processing information. There’s no reason to suppose the trend will slow down or stop. And as we get better at using all this data, new ways to strip our privacy emerge,…

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