Monday, June 20, 2011

While those are still dying in Police Custody News of a new national Police database which is set to hold the details of a quarter of the population !

17th June 2011

 Welcome to the Big Brother Watch newsletter!

It was another busy week for the Big Brother Watch team with news of a new national Police database which is set to hold the details of a quarter of the population, calls for the government to review controversial stop-and-search powers and a scandal surrounding the covert surveillance of Julian Assange.  Each of these stories - and much more - are explored in more depth below.

As always, please do get in touch with us if there is a case you'd like our assistance with or a story you'd like to draw our attention to. 

You can find our full contact details on our website at  You can find Big Brother Watch on Twitter at @bbw1984.


Media Highlights


Metro - One in four Britons on Police database
But Daniel Hamilton, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘The police need to give the public a cast iron guarantee that innocent people’s details will never make their way on to this database.’

BBC News - Anti-terror stop-and-search powers need 'safeguards'
Daniel Hamilton, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, said: "While we welcome the conclusions [of JCHR] they could have gone much further.

"Rather than a genuine counter-terrorism and crime-fighting tool, stop and search has been a way of bullying and hassling our increasingly abject population.

"We have to decide what kind of society we want to live in. Arbitrary stop and search powers allow the state to confront an individual in the street, without cause, and demand their papers. It's wrong." 

Daily Telegraph - WikiLeaks: Government 'spying' on Julian Assange during house arrest
Daniel Hamilton, a director for civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said the cameras should be taken down.

He said: “Regardless of the allegations made against Mr Assange, he has not been charged with any crime.

“For his movements – and those of his visitors – to be monitored in this way constitutes an outrageous invasion of personal privacy. These cameras must be removed immediately.

“The Police and Home Secretary should make a clear and unequivocal statement that this type of underhand surveillance will not be tolerated in the United Kingdom.”  

Daily Mail - Sainsbury's supermarket staff are being trained as government 'health spies'

 Daniel Hamilton, of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘It strikes me as something that will make a lot of people uncomfortable. They are trying to do the right thing but they have to be careful about how they do it.’

The Guardian - Privacy groups take Royston's ANPR plans to ICO 
No CCTV, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch say that they fear the project might foreshadow similar work across the country. "The use of ANPR by the police in the UK has not been as the result of any Parliamentary debate, Act of Parliament or even a Statutory Instrument," they say in their complaint. The government is proposing a code of conduct on the use of ANPR, but the complaint says this would not be legally enforceable. 

Yorkshire Post - (Op-Ed) Daniel Hamilton: It’s time to defend our freedom and lift this ban
Daniel Hamilton is director of Big Brother Watch.

OVER the past decade, there has been a significant expansion of the amount and scope of anti-terrorist legislation implemented in the UK.

The growth of the authoritarian state is inextricably linked to what Tony Blair once called the “changing rules of the game” – a new form of terrorism that defies borders and harnesses technology to achieve its poisonous goals.

IT Pro - CCTV service Internet Eyes forced into privacy changes 
Daniel Hamilton, director of the Big Brother Watch, was not convinced the ICO had gone far enough.

"Today's ruling does little to address fundamental concerns many have about this system and its impact upon personal privacy," Hamilton told IT Pro.

"It's fundamentally wrong to hand untrained and unaccountable voyeurs the power to monitor CCTV images.  This should be left to trained professionals." 

UOL Noticias (Brazil) - WikiLeaks afirma que governo britânico espiona Assange
O diretor do grupo defensor das liberdades civis "Big Brother Watch", Daniel Hamilton, disse nesta quinta-feira que as câmeras deveriam ser retiradas do lugar.

"Apesar das acusações contra Assange, ele não foi condenado por nenhum crime. O fato de seus movimentos e os de seus visitantes serem vigiados desta maneira é uma degradante invasão de privacidade. Estas câmeras deveriam ser retiradas imediatamente", avaliou Hamilton.


 Blogs of the Week


Immigrant or criminal?
Recently I landed at Heathrow Airport after a trip to the US.  Upon returning to London, I was looking forward to getting to my flat and preparing to go back to work the next morning.  I was home and I could relax after a long flight.  But first, immigration.  Did I mention I’m foreign...


Education Bill sparks human rights controversy

The Education Bill, which started its Second Reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday, could possibly fall foul of human rights laws due to some rather intrusive measures. Currently school staff in England are only able to search a pupil if they believe they have a ‘prohibited item’ on their person or in their belongings. These can include weapons, alcohol or drugs.


Police in Tredworth, Gloucestershire install broken CCTV… twice

Considering the bad press that CCTV often receives for being expensive, useless and often mismanaged, when the residents of Tredworth in Gloucestershire actively asked police to install cameras due to the vandalism of their cars in the high street, you would have expected them to check they worked first.

Leaks reveal misinformation from University of Nottingham concerning student detained for ‘terrorist activities’

In May 2008, University of Nottingham student Rizwaan Sabir and staff member Hicham Yezza were arrested by counter-terrorism officers causing huge controversy. Sabir had downloaded an al-Qaida training manual as research for a dissertation he was producing, and asked Yezza, editor of a political magazine called Ceasefire, for his help in drafting a PhD proposal. University officials alerted the police and the men were held in police custody for six days.

Surrey Council Council fined £120k for e-mail data security blunders

We at Big Brother Watch have long complained about the unwillingness of the Information Commissioner to effectively use his powers to name, shame and fine those who are guilty of gross abuses of data protection law.  While these powers are used rarely, they are occasionally utilised for good effect.
One case where the ICO has shown a willingness to act is against Surrey County Council for their incompetence in e-mailing personal medical and welfare data of hundreds of people to the wrong recipients on three separate occasions.

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