Feeds

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

ICO to ponder whether hashtag wrongly implied suspects' guilt

The essential guide to IT transformation

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.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
NBN Co claims 96 mbps download speeds for FTTN trial
Umina trial also delivers 30 mbps uploads, but exact rig used not revealed
True fact: 1 in 4 Brits are now TERRORISTS
YouGov poll reveals terrible truth about the enemy within
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?