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Team Trump goes in to bat for Google and Facebook

Donald Trump's former policy chief Steve Bannon wanted to limit the power of Silicon Valley's plutocrats, but US trade negotiations have just thrown a protective arm around them. Bloomberg reports that negotiators are limiting attempts to give ordinary people more power to sue Google and Facebook over their responsibilities …
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Nov 2017

UK spy court ruled immune from judicial review – for now

The UK's Court of Appeal has ruled that the body that oversees the nation's intelligence agencies cannot be held subject to a judicial review under active laws. In a judgment handed down yesterday, the court rejected an argument from campaign group Privacy International that aimed to use case law to back up its the right to …
Rebecca Hill, 24 Nov 2017
Official gag photo via Shutterstock

Plans to thwack Official Secrets Acts smacked: Journo-gagging reform postponed

Proposals to reform and rewrite Britain's aged Official Secrets Acts have been postponed for at least a year, the government's Law Commission has confirmed to The Register. Campaigners and media organisations now hope that the new "journalistic ice age" threatened earlier this year may not happen after all. As proposed, the …
Duncan Campbell, 24 Nov 2017
Value pack of two tins of Spam

156K spam text-sending firm to ICO: It wasn't us, Commissioner

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office has fined Hamilton Digital Solutions £45,000 for sending spam text messages, it announced today, despite its protestations that a third party had been responsible. The London-based company (now known as HDSL) sent more than 156,000 unwanted messages between April and September 2016, …
Richard Priday, 24 Nov 2017

Digital Entrepreneur Awards help UK tech cop an eyeful of... WTF?

When it comes to women in tech, it's fair to say the sector has a bit of an image problem. Just this week, 89 of the country's largest employers of computer developers signed up to the Tech Talent Charter, which asks businesses to share recruitment and gender pay gap data. While that might be seen as another meaningless …
Kat Hall, 24 Nov 2017

Another toothless wonder? Why the UK.gov's data ethics centre needs clout

Amid myriad bodies offering advice, opinions and rulings on the use of data springing up all over the shop, the government used the Budget to announce plans to create yet another. The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is described (PDF) as "a world-first advisory body to enable and ensure safe, ethical innovation in …
Rebecca Hill, 24 Nov 2017
Phiip Hammond, photo via Shutterstock

Budget 2017: How to make a downbeat forecast sound better. Say 'tech' a lot?

“The world is on the brink of a technological revolution,” UK chancellor Philip Hammond declared in Blighty's Autumn budget today. “We choose the future; we choose to run towards change, not away from it.” Indeed, lip service to tech featured prominently in the budget – including re-announcing funding for driverless cars ( …
Kat Hall, 22 Nov 2017

Ads watchdog to BT: We say your itsy bitsy, teeny weeny Ts&Cs too small for screeny

BT has had its ears boxed by the Advertising Standards Agency after one of its adverts with masses of small print was ruled "likely to mislead". The offending advert, televised in May of this year, contained two offers for broadband packages; one for an increased discount, and the other for a £100 reward card for signing up …
Richard Priday, 22 Nov 2017

Don't sweat Brexit, big biz told: Your shiny data protection sticker will remain intact

Multinationals whose data protection compliance was rubberstamped by the UK's privacy regulator have been assured they won't be stripped of the authorisation after Brexit. Firms that wish to move personal data out of the European Economic Area have to demonstrate that they abide by EU data protection rules. They can do this …
Rebecca Hill, 21 Nov 2017
Pretty woman looks miffed. Copyright: Danil Nevsky via Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=149618984&src=id

Twitter's blue tick rule changes may lower the sueball barrier

Comment Infamous online cesspit Twitter may have unintentionally made itself easier to sue for the things users write on its site, following recently announced changes to its "blue tick" verification system. Earlier this month Twitter staff used the service's Twitter Support account to declare that its controversial blue tick will now …
Gareth Corfield, 21 Nov 2017
Workers car pooling

Uber slapped with $9m fine for letting dodgy drivers pick up punters

Colorado watchdogs today hit Uber subsidiary Rasier with an $8.9m fine for allowing drivers with felony convictions and/or major moving violations to pick up folks using the ride-hailing app. Rasier is the part of Uber that contracts with drivers. The US state's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) identified 57 Uber drivers …
Thomas Claburn, 20 Nov 2017
Policeman number 10, photo by pcruciatti via Shutterstock

UK.gov to chuck an extra £2.3bn at R&D ahead of Budget

The government has announced an extra £2.3bn in research and development investment by 2021/22, ahead of the Budget this week. That will bring the annual total to £12.5bn. The government says that figure is set to increase to 2.4 per cent of GDP on projects by 2027 – with most of that figure provided by private sector …
Richard Priday, 20 Nov 2017
Used car salesman flogs watches from his undercoat

UK.gov 'could easily' flog 6m driver records to private firms this year

The UK government is driving towards a sale of up to 6 million vehicle records to private parking firms, according to a transport lobby group. The RAC Foundation monitors the number of vehicle-keeper records that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency sells to firms, which use them to issue car owners with fines for parking …
Rebecca Hill, 20 Nov 2017
Doctors run to save patient. Photo by Shutterstock

UK.gov told to tread carefully with transfer of data sets to NHS Digital

The UK government has been advised against a hasty shift of vital data sets from one quango to another as it aims to centralise medical data collection and management. Data on disease diagnoses, treatment and outcomes is a crucial resource for the health service, and the government has argued that better links between various …
Rebecca Hill, 20 Nov 2017

ICO probes universities accused of using private data to target donation campaigns

Twenty-four British universities are being probed by the Information Commissioner's Office after being accused of using their ex-students' data to target those most likely to be extra alma to their mater. An investigation by the Daily Mail published today claimed the Russell Group used "wealth screening firms" to analyse their …
Richard Priday, 20 Nov 2017
Uber delivery person

MPs draft bill to close loopholes used by 'sharing economy' employers

A draft UK law bill intended to close loopholes in so-called "gig economy" employment practices has been published today by Parliament's Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committees. The joint report and draft bill is intended to address the use bogus "self-employment" status as a route to …
Kat Hall, 20 Nov 2017

Then there were four: Another draft US law on 'foreign' (aka domestic) mass spying emerges

The battle over a controversial US government spying program has intensified – with a fourth piece of legislation tackling the surveillance introduced to Congress on Friday. Somewhat confusingly, the latest proposed law – put forward by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to the US Senate – is understood to be …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Nov 2017

Car tax evasion has soared since paper discs scrapped

The abolition of the paper tax disc is costing the UK government £107m due to an increase in car tax evasion. According to statistics from the the Department for Transport (DfT), 1.8 per cent of vehicles on UK roads in 2017 were unlicensed, compared to 1.4 per cent in 2015. This equates to around 755,000 vehicles and could …
Kat Hall, 17 Nov 2017
Stingray

Hey, cop! You need a warrant to stalk a phone with a Stingray – judge

Analysis A New York judge has this month told cops that they need to get a warrant before they can use a controversial Stingray phone-tracking gadget to hunt down suspects. Justice Martin Murphy of the Kings County Supreme Court said the New York Police Department (NYPD) could not use crucial evidence it gathered while trying to locate …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Nov 2017

Google says broader right to be forgotten is 'serious assault' on freedom

Google's general counsel has signalled the company intends to fight, hard, against broad interpretations of the European Union's right to be forgotten. Kent Walker, the company's general counsel and senior veep, put his name to a strongly-worded post on Wednesday, US time. Titled “Defending access to lawful information at …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Nov 2017

Belgian court says Skype must provide interception facilities

Skype has failed in its appeal against a 2016 fine in Belgium for failing to help authorities tap calls in a criminal investigation, with the court saying it must comply with the country's telecommunications laws. Last year, a court in Mechelen imposed the €30,000 fine, because Skype was unable to hand over anything more than …

US authorities swallow security-free script for pill that knows when you're off your meds

What could possibly go wrong when drug companies embed into a pill, so that after you swallow it connects to a smartphone app and then sends data over the internet? The question is urgent as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week approved a thing-in-a-pill, in the form of an antipsychotic called …

US trade cops agree to investigate Apple's 'embrace and extend'

A patent lawsuit alleging that Apple froze out a third-party software developer has been given credence by America's International Trade Commission (USITC), which will investigate the complaint. Los Angeles-based Aqua Connect Inc claims to have created the market for a Citrix-like multiuser Mac desktop system, only to see …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Nov 2017

Universal basic income is a great idea, which is also why it won't happen

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) unites a strange mix of people. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things,” Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said in a speech at Harvard University in May. “And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People …
SA Mathieson, 15 Nov 2017
DHS assistant secretary Jeanette Manfra

US Homeland Security says hardly any Kaspersky software left on federal networks

Only 15 per cent of US federal agencies still have Kaspersky Lab software anywhere on their networks. So said the United States' Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assistant secretary for cyber security, Jeanette Manfra, at a Tuesday hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's oversight subcommittee …
Uber safety marketing

Uber sued over alleged rapes as #MeToo web rally reveals more sex assault claims

Two unnamed women allegedly raped by Uber drivers sued the transit app biz today for sexual assault and unlawful business practices. The complaint, filed in a US district court in San Francisco, California, today seeks damages, stricter screening for drivers, insurance coverage for riders, and disclosure of the number of …
Thomas Claburn, 14 Nov 2017

Donald Trump's tweets: Are they presidential statements or not?

They are the most dissected, repeated and analyzed statements in the world – but are Donald Trump's tweets formal statements by the President of the United States, or his own personal reflections? It seems that no one can agree: even the US Department of Justice, which has represented the short messages from his @ …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Nov 2017
Max Schrems

EU court advised: Schrems is a consumer in Facebook case, but can't file class-action

Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems' bid to bring a class-action lawsuit against Facebook has been dealt a blow by the advocate general advising the European Court of Justice. The PhD student has been embroiled in a years-long battle with Facebook over its privacy policies and data-sharing with US spy agencies. It has seen …
Rebecca Hill, 14 Nov 2017
HMRC photo, Gov.uk

MPs slam HMRC's 'deeply worrying' lack of post-Brexit customs system

MPs have today warned of the "catastrophic" scenario of UK taxmen at HMRC failing to have a back-up system in place if its Customs Declaration Service (CDS) programme is not ready in time for Brexit. A failed customs system could lead to huge disruption for businesses, with delays potentially causing massive queues at Dover …
Kat Hall, 14 Nov 2017
Landfill filled with computers

Brit cops slammed for failing to give answers on digital device data slurpage

Police forces have been urged to keep better records on how much data they slurp from the hundreds of thousands of digital devices they seize, and how it is used. Campaign group Big Brother Watch issued the demands after a largely unsuccessful mission to assess just how much data the forces extract from devices they've seized …
Rebecca Hill, 13 Nov 2017
schoolkids

Computing in schools improved, but still needs major patching – report

Computing based education has improved in the UK since 2012 but there's still more to be done, according to the Royal Society A new report by the science group, titled After the reboot: computing education in schools, made six major recommendations – offer computer-based subjects more widely, improve the diversity of students …
Richard Priday, 10 Nov 2017
Stock market image via Shutterstock

Equifax Q3 results: Not as bad as you might have hoped – hack only cost biz about $87m

Equifax's latest financials lay bare the costly fallout from the embarrassing security breach that exposed 143 million customers' privates in the US and 15.2 million records in the UK. Calendar Q3 numbers for the three months ended 30 September - the latter being the same month the company 'fessed up to the mega leak - include …
Richard Priday, 10 Nov 2017
An unhappy driver

Uber loses appeal against employment rights for workers

Taxi firm Uber has today lost its appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed. In October 2016, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that two Uber drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, were Uber staff and entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum …
Kat Hall, 10 Nov 2017
Crop of doctor with pen and clipboard

Activists launch legal challenge against NHS patient data-sharing deal

A civil rights group has launched a legal challenge in the UK against a deal that asks the NHS to share patient data for immigration enforcement. The agreement allows the Home Office to ask the NHS to hand over non-clinical information on patients – like date of birth or last known address – for immigration offences, such as …
Rebecca Hill, 09 Nov 2017

US domestic, er, foreign spying bill progresses through Congress

A draft law protecting one of the US government's spying programs has passed through the initial markup stage in the Congress, providing one more opportunity to witness the "up is down" world in which American politics currently resides. The USA Liberty Act put forward by House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA …
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Nov 2017
Ireland and Great Britain map, image via Shutterstock

UK Land Registry opens books on corporate owners

HM Land Registry made its databases of property owned by domestic and foreign businesses free to access yesterday. The "Commercial and Corporate Ownership Data" and "Overseas Companies Ownership Data" sets are now available without charge. HMLR had previously offered access to the latter for fees ranging between £2,000 and £ …
Richard Priday, 08 Nov 2017

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