Today is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, a document which has very much changed the world, being the first document of its kind to protect the rights and freedoms of society and establish that the king was subject to the law. Of course there is an argument that at the time of its signing, the Magna Carta was not as significant as it has become, but that really isn’t the point, it is what it now stands for that matters.
Amongst the many events that have been held to celebrate the anniversary the British Library has revealed the current top 10 clauses people would like to see in a “Magna Carta for the digital age”. This was the result of a British Library’s project conceived to encourage particularly young people to think about privacy, internet access and freedom in the digital age.
See the British Library “My Digital Rights” web-page for more information which can be found here.
The Top 10 clauses voted for were :
- The Web we want will not let companies pay to control it, and not let governments restrict our right to information
- The Web we want will allow freedom of speech
- The Web we want will be free from government censors in all countries
- The Web we want will not allow any kind of government censorship
- The Web we want will be available for all those who wish to use it
- The Web we want will be free from censorship and mass surveillance
- The Web we want will allow equal access to knowledge, information and current news worldwide
- The Web we want will have freedom of speech
- The Web we want will not be censored by the government
- The Web we want will not sell our personal information and preferences for money, and will make it clearer if the company/Website intends to do so
David Barrett reports in the Daily Telegraph that telephone masts which can listen to mobile phone conversations without the owner’s permission are being operated in Britain.
The devices, technically known as IMSI catchers, but also referred to stingrays, trick handsets into thinking they are genuine mobile phone towers in order to monitor calls and other data including texts and emails. They have been used in a number of foreign countries to target the communications of criminals, but are difficult to use in a targeted manner and will also hoover up data from innocent people’s mobile phones.
Police have refused to discuss whether they are behind the installation of the masts, at least 20 of which were uncovered in London in an investigation by the Sky News television channel.
The Office of Personnel Management is essentially the Human Resources function of the US Government. The breach is believed to have resulted in the loss of the personal details of up to four million current and former US Government employees.
The breach is the second major breach of US Government networks by China in the past year. Austin Berglas, a former cyber official at the FBI’s New York field office said in response to the news:
“China is everywhere. They’re looking to gain social and economic and political advantage over the United States in any way they can. The easiest way to do that is through theft of intellectual property and theft of sensitive information.”
Maggie Ybarra reports in the Washington Times that FBI agents cannot identify any major terrorism cases they have cracked using the snooping powers in the US Patriot Act.
The revelation is interesting given the claims of its supporters that powers provided by the act such a bulk phone data collection, were critical to national security and had to be retained.
The Patriot Act expired on Monday (1st June) and some (see here) of its surveillance powers were incorporated into the USA Freedom Act which was approved by Congress on Tuesday (2nd June). Amongst the powers transferred was the power to enable bulk phone data collection; however, on a positive note this data can now only be accessed with court permission.