Feeds

Staffs Police face data protection probe over 'drink drivers named' Twitter campaign

ICO to ponder whether hashtag wrongly implied suspects' guilt

The Power of One Infographic

Staffordshire Police, who ran a Twitter campaign against alleged drink-drivers over the Christmas period by naming and shaming suspects charged with the offence, are now being investigated by the UK's information watchdog for a possible breach of data protection law.

The move comes after the Information Commissioner's Office received a complaint about the police force's decision to publish the details of the suspects - including name and age - on the micro-blogging site alongside the hashtag "DrinkDriversNamedOnTwitter".

Some argued that the hashtag itself implied that the suspects were guilty of the offence, despite only having been charged with the offences.

In the run up to Christmas, the cop shop tweeted the names of more than 80 individuals who had been cuffed and charged over allegations of driving drunk behind the wheel of a car. Significantly, none of the named individuals had been convicted or sentenced.

The controversial campaign was attacked by privacy experts, who questioned whether Staffordshire Police had violated data protection laws.

An ICO spokesman told The Register:

We are currently making enquiries into a possible breach of the Data Protection Act by Staffordshire Police relating to their #drinkdriversnamedontwitter campaign.

El Reg understands that the regulator is mulling over principle 1 of the Data Protection Act that requires information to be be processed fairly and lawfully.

In mid-December, Staffordshire Police - which tweets under the Twitter handle @StaffsPolice - claimed to have "overwhelming support" for its anti drink-driving campaign and said it would help reduce such alleged crimes in the area.

At the time, the constabulary's Chief Inspector Paul Trevor said the force would use Twitter to name and shame "those who have been caught drink-driving" on a daily basis.

In direct response to the criticism, Staffordshire Police added: "There have been concerns raised about naming those charged. However, it is force policy to name people who have been charged and when offenders attend court it becomes a matter of public record." ®

Bootnote

Surprisingly, Twitter is not yet trending with the following hashtag: #gohomestaffspoliceyouredrunk.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.