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Whistleblower org chief quits over Assange critic boot demand

The director of whistleblower support outfit the Courage Foundation has quit after being told to pull support from Barrett Brown following some barbed comments he made about Julian Assange. Naomi Colvin walked out of the foundation after “three of Courage’s trustees wrote to me demanding that I inform Barrett Brown that he …
Gareth Corfield, 13 Aug 2018

UK's data watchdog picks privacy man from IBM arm as new tech policy exec

The UK’s data protection watchdog has chosen the managing director of an IBM-owned risk management biz, Promontory, to lead its technology policy and innovation team. What's an RDBMS? Don't ask the UK's data protection watchdog READ MORE Simon McDougall, a former Deloitte man, has been the global lead for privacy and data …
Rebecca Hill, 13 Aug 2018
Enigma machine Shutterstock

Australia on the cusp of showing the world how to break encryption

The Australian government has scheduled its “not-a-backdoor” crypto-busting bill to land in parliament in the spring session, and we still don't know what will be in it. The legislation is included in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's schedule of proposed laws to be debated from today (13 August) all the way into …
HMRC photo via Shutterstock

UK taxman told: IR35 still isn't working in the public sector, and you want to take it private?

The UK's taxman, HMRC, is under pressure to rethink "short-sighted" plans to extend IR35 tax reforms to the private sector and scrap its "unfit" assessment tool as a consultation on the matter closes today. The government is tightening up tax rules on off-payroll working to squeeze contractors for a bit more cash. Broadly, it …
Rebecca Hill, 10 Aug 2018
Corbyn thumbs up photo via Shutterstock

Emma's Diary fined £140k for flogging data on over a million new mums to Labour Party

Updated Data-brokering biz Lifecycle Marketing (Mother & Baby) has been fined £140,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for illegally collating and flogging personal information of more than a million people. The Buckinghamshire-based business, also known as Emma's Diary, issues advice on pregnancy and childcare. It sold …
Paul Kunert, 09 Aug 2018
Used car salesman flogs watches from his undercoat

Second-hand connected car data drama could be a GDPR minefield

What are the implications under GDPR of a previous owner retaining access to data and control of a connected car after it is sold on? Although El Reg's initial story on the topic focused on the experience of two Jaguar Land Rover owners and the car maker's response, it has become clear this is an industry-wide issue and cars …
John Leyden, 09 Aug 2018

Mind behind 16.7m nuisance call menace cops six-year boss ban

A company boss whose business was fined £260,000 for making 16.7 million automated marketing calls has been banned from holding directorships for six years. Shaun Harkin, 48, from Coventry and the sole director at Easyleads Ltd, was pulled over hot coals by the Information Commissioner's Office on 21 September last year for …
Paul Kunert, 09 Aug 2018
Kid raising hand in school

UK.gov to tech industry: Hands up who can help cut teachers' admin

The British government has admitted teachers need help tackling lesson workloads and admin burdens – but wants tech firms to fix the problem. In a speech to the World Education Forum, education secretary Damian Hinds called on the industry to revolutionise UK schooling. His department is looking to startups and Silicon Valley …
Rebecca Hill, 08 Aug 2018

Top Euro court: No, you can't steal images from other websites (too bad a school had to be sued to confirm this little fact)

The European Court of Justice has determined that a website must get permission from the copyright owner of an image before it can use the picture itself – even if that photo or illustration is readily available elsewhere. That may seem like an obvious conclusion, however, the official advice delivered to the Euro court by its …
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Aug 2018
keyboard with 'Help' key

Almost 1 in 3 Brits think they lack computer skills to do their jobs well

Nearly a third of Britons don't think they have the required computer skills to do their jobs despite 9 in 10 households having internet access, according to the Office for National Statistics. The government numbers agency's latest survey also reckons that 16 to 24-year-olds are the most likely group to be using cloud storage …
Gareth Corfield, 07 Aug 2018

Internet overseer ICANN loses a THIRD time in Whois GDPR legal war

The internet's domain names overlord has failed in a third attempt to keep to the wheels from falling off its Whois service in Europe, raising questions over its competence. US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was slammed by the Appellate Court of Cologne, Germany, for not having "sufficiently …
Kieren McCarthy, 07 Aug 2018
Being millennialsplained

New age discrim row: Accenture, Facebook sued by sales boss for favoring 'new blood'

In January 2016, then-54-year-old Mark Stephens was recruited by Accenture to work as a sales development manager on a project with Facebook, subject to Facebook's approval. He got the job – and then lost it due to age discrimination, or so he claims in a lawsuit filed against the two companies in Austin, Texas, on Monday. "I …
Thomas Claburn, 06 Aug 2018
US Supreme Court

Oracle tells US Supremes: Ignore Rimini Street. You don't need to review copyright case

Oracle has said support biz Rimini Street is invoking a "shallow and stale" circuit court split that doesn't merit the Supreme Court's attention in a bid to claw back cash it isn't owed. The latest in the years-long legal wrangling between the two comes after Rimini Street filed a petition with the top US court, as it tries to …
Rebecca Hill, 03 Aug 2018
China internet

Amnesty slaps Google amid crippled censored China search claims

Google is said to be preparing to launch a censored version of its search engine in mainland China, restoring a service it launched in 2006 and discontinued in 2010 in response to an attack on its infrastructure. According to documents obtained by The Intercept, a censored version of Google Search, dubbed Dragonfly, has been …
Thomas Claburn, 01 Aug 2018

Oz government offers privacy concessions on MyHealth Record

Australia's peak medical bodies have won some concessions over the privacy of the country's MyHealth Record, and the government says it will extend the opt-out period to mid-November, but it's unlikely to end the hostile debate over the initiative. Overnight, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the government would amend …

Think tank calls for post-Brexit national ID cards: The kids have phones so what's the difference?

A planned ID scheme for EU citizens after Brexit should be rolled out nationwide, a UK think tank has said, citing the Windrush* scandal as justification. UK.gov's love affair with ID cards: Curse or farce? READ MORE In a report on border controls (PDF), the right-leaning Policy Exchange raised the spectre of nationwide …
Rebecca Hill, 31 Jul 2018
India battle tapestry photo via Shutterstock

India mulls ban on probes into anonymized data use – with GDPR-style privacy laws

India is following Europe down the data protection path, with draft legislation criticized as a mixed bag of good and bad laws being proposed on Friday. Under the proposals, there will be a data protection authority with the ability to impose fines; individuals get some new rights over how their data is handled, but not as …
us flags

The internet's very own Muslim ban continues: DNS overlord insists it can freeze dot-words

Internet overseer ICANN has insisted it has the authority to maintain a six-year online Muslim ban, despite being told otherwise by its own independent oversight panel. In a letter sent to the Turkish organization that applied for the rights to operate the .islam and .halal generic top-level domain names back in 2012, ICANN's …
Kieren McCarthy, 30 Jul 2018

UK 'fake news' inquiry calls for end to tech middleman excuses, election law overhaul

British lawmakers have been told to create tougher rules for social media giants claiming to be neutral platforms, establish a code of ethics for tech firms, and plump up the UK's self-styled "data sheriff"*. Eighteen months into an epic inquiry that was thrust into the spotlight after the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting …
Rebecca Hill, 30 Jul 2018

Hot US deal! IBM wins $83m from Groupon in e-commerce patent spat

IBM has won $82.5m in a legal battle against Groupon over e-commerce patent infringement. The verdict, delivered by a jury at the end of last week after a 10-day trial, was that Groupon had wilfully infringed a number of IBM's patents. Because of the ruling that it was wilful, the online voucher biz was handed a larger …
Rebecca Hill, 30 Jul 2018
Woman thumbs down, image via Shutterstock

UK slides from first to fourth in UN e-gov survey

The UK has fallen off its perch at the top of the UN’s biennial e-government ranking, dropping three places. The survey, which compares trends in digital government across countries, rated Denmark as the most developed – a big jump from its previous ninth place. Brought to you by UK.gov: 'Most ambitious programme of change of …
Rebecca Hill, 27 Jul 2018

MyHealth Record rollout saga shambles on: ALP wants it put on hold

The rollout of Australia's MyHealth Record e-health system is moving from “troubled” towards “shambles”. In the space of the past few days: The Parliamentary Library has contradicted health minister Greg Hunt on the matter of law enforcement access to health records; Hunt has stuck to his guns nonetheless; the Australian …

On Android, US antitrust can go where nervous EU fears to tread

Analysis Europe's Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, faced two very different questions from the media after announcing a record fine for Google last week. One asked the experienced former Danish deputy PM if this wasn't just sour grapes in retaliation for Donald Trump's trade war. Another demanded to know why she wasn't …
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Jul 2018

Oz digital health agency tightens medical record access as watchdog warns of crim honeypot

Australia's Human Rights Commissioner has weighed into the country's troubled electronic health records rollout. Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about the launch of a project to protect human rights amid the growing reliance on artificial intelligence and global data sharing, commissioner Edward Santow said …
A person rioting in protest

I predict a riot: Amazon UK chief foresees 'civil unrest' for no-deal Brexit

Amazon's UK chief Doug Gurr has claimed Britain will descend into "civil unrest" in weeks if it leaves the EU with no trade deal in place. Gurr made his comments during a business leaders' meeting in England last week with new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, according to The Times. He is reported to have told the meeting, …
Gareth Corfield, 23 Jul 2018

UK spies broke law for 15 years, but what can you do? shrugs judge

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has reruled that GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 engaged in indiscriminate and illegal bulk cable-tapping surveillance for 15 years – and has once again refused to do anything about it. In a 113-paragraph judgment handed down today filled with assurances that he was "anxious to assist in achieving …
Gareth Corfield, 23 Jul 2018
Old pound coins in a stack

You're burning £1.2bn for what? UK spending watchdog gives digital court plans a kicking

UK Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has told HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) that it has "much to learn" as it ploughs on with its ambitious £1.2bn court digitisation project. Ministry of Justice scraps 'conviction by computer' law READ MORE The PAC, which is the House of Commons' public sector spending …
Gareth Corfield, 20 Jul 2018

Oz researchers, uni unite against Defence overreach

Australia’s research and university communities have united against what they see as Department of Defence overreach: the brass-hats want greater powers to control international collaboration. The battle centres around the two-yearly review of Australia’s defence controls legislation, and a June submission by the Department …
Tech law image

Y'know... Publishing tech specs may be fair use, says appeals court

In a victory for those supporting open access to technical specifications, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday vacated injunctions [PDF] that prohibited Public.Resource.Org (PRO) from publishing copyrighted technical standards online. The appeals court reversed a partial grant of summary …
Thomas Claburn, 17 Jul 2018
PDF and HTML icons

Gov.UK to make its lovely HTML exportable as parlous PDFs

The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) has revealed it’s working on a tool that will export its web pages as PDFs. News of the effort comes at the end of a post that spends most of its time slagging off PDFs. “Compared with HTML content, information published in a PDF is harder to find, use and maintain,” wrote GDS …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Jul 2018
Image: Lessimol http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-1612118p1.html

Web regulation could push Silicon Valley startups away from UK, Parliament warned

Three major internet service providers have said they would back a regulator to oversee rules for web giants – but warned lawmakers not to forget smaller firms or the bigger picture. In evidence to the House of Lords Communications Committee, gathered as part of its ongoing inquiry into internet regulation, policy execs from …
Rebecca Hill, 16 Jul 2018
EU egg timer, photo via Shutterstock

Privacy Shield under pressure as lawyers back MEPs' call for suspension

The US is under increasing pressure over Privacy Shield as an EU lawyers' association backed MEPs’ calls for a suspension of the deal. Privacy Shield – which governs trans-Atlantic data flows, making it essential for the day-to-day workings of large numbers of companies – was hurriedly drawn up in summer 2016 after its …
Rebecca Hill, 16 Jul 2018

ZTE sends 400 million hostages, gets back in business stateside

Chinese telco kit-maker ZTE is back in business in the USA after doing everything asked of it by the nation’s authorities. US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross late last week issued a statement that said his “Department lifted the denial order on ZTE pursuant to a June settlement agreement that included the harshest penalties …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jul 2018
red tape

FCC caught red-handed – again – over its $225 complaint billing plan

America's comms watchdog – the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – stooped to a new low on Thursday when it made last-second changes to a new complaints procedure just minutes after it denied the changes were necessary. The regulator's July monthly meeting was overshadowed by reports and complaints that an effort to " …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Jul 2018
A kid eating a cake

UK.gov is ready to talk data safeguards with the EU – but still wants it all

The UK government has insisted it's in the European Union's best interests to grant it a souped-up agreement on the protection and sharing of personal data post-Brexit and wants to start talks now. In the long-awaited Brexit white paper – over which two secretaries of state have resigned – the government outlined its new, …
Rebecca Hill, 12 Jul 2018

UK taxman outlines its CHIEF concerns for customs IT systems

HMRC execs have set out a series of risks to the development of its new customs IT system, including ensuring that supplier IBM delivers on time and a possible £70m shortfall in funding this year alone. UK taxman warned it's running out of time to deliver working customs IT system by Brexit READ MORE The department is …
Rebecca Hill, 12 Jul 2018

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