Campaigners attack plans to share patient data with the taxman

Mark Aitken reports in the Daily Record that civil liberties campaigners have condemned plans by the Scottish SNP Government to share NHS patients’ data with HM Revenue and Customs.

The plan to share NHS patient data would involve opening up the NHS electronic database of everyone born in Scotland and/or registered with a GP in Scotland to 120 public bodies, ranging from Quality Meat Scotland to the Forestry Commission, in addition to HMRC.

According to the Scottish Government, sharing the NHS data will help HMRC identify who would be liable to pay new Scottish income tax rates.

James Baker, Campaigns Manager for privacy 
campaign group NO2ID, said about the plans:

“If the Scottish Government wants to make this big change, it should make it a law so MSPs can debate it in Parliament.  If it wants to create a surveillance society, it should do it by law rather than through a sneaky change in regulations.”


Shallow response from MSPs shows heads in sand over Scottish ID Database

Open Rights Group (ORG) report that many ORG supporters who have contacted SNP members of the Scottish Parliament about Scottish Government’s proposed Identity Database, have received a standard letter in reply.  The letter is almost certainly drafted by civil servants and fails to address the key concerns with the proposed Identity Database.

ORG  have provided a detailed response to each point raised in the letter highlighting the flaws in the statements made.  The ORG response can be found here.

Thousands of innocent people on police photos database

Nick Hopkins and Jake Morris report on the BBC News website that Police forces in England and Wales have uploaded up to 18 million “mugshots” to a facial recognition database, without Home Office approval and despite a court ruling that it could be unlawful.

In addition, the photos of hundreds of thousands of innocent people could be on the database according to the Alastair MacGregor QC the Biometrics Commissioner, who admitted during an interview on the BBC Newsnight programme, that the Police had not informed him about the image uploads.

There are now calls for the database to be properly regulated to ensure the privacy and civil liberties aspects are addressed.

David Davis MP, the former Conservative shadow Home Secretary said:

“Police always want more powers, but I’m afraid the courts and parliament say there are limits.  You cannot treat innocent people the same way you treat guilty people.”

EU wants back doors into encryption Software

It has emerged that Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter terrorism co-ordinator, wants companies to be required by law to hand over encryption keys for communication services, in order to allow interception of messages by EU governments.

The revelation came following the leak of an EU document by civil liberties group Statewatch outlining the proposals for discussion at an informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Riga on 29 January 2015.

Section 3 (f) of the document states:

Since the Snowden revelations, internet and telecommunications companies have started to use often de-centralized encryption which increasingly makes lawful interception by the relevant national authorities technically difficult or even impossible. The Commission should be invited to explore rules obliging internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide under certain conditions as set out in the relevant national laws and in full compliance with fundamental rights access of the relevant national authorities to communications (i.e. share encryption keys).

The document is available here.

The issue is also highlighted on the BBC news website in an article on the launch of an encrypted messaging service called MegaChat, by internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.