UK: Data & Privacy Update - 17 July 2014

Last Updated: 24 July 2014
Article by Margaret Tofalides

Emergency surveillance bill clears Commons

Last week we reported on the Government's plan to implement emergency legislation, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill 2014. After angry exchanges alleging abuse of parliament, the bill has now been agreed. Up to 56 MPs opposed the deal between the three main parties after the frontbenches agreed on the urgent need for new laws. The bill was agreed at third reading by an overwhelming majority of 416, after MPs voted 449 to 33 in favour. However, the House of Lords has criticised the Government's rush to enact the legislation given the issues addressed by the bill have been known for weeks, if not months. The House of Lords are due to complete the remaining stages this week, with some peers indicating they intend to oppose parts of the bill.

Norway banks hit by largest ever DDoS attack

Norway's top financial institutions have been hit in what appears to be a coordinated cyber attack, the biggest the country has ever experienced. At least eight top Norway companies including Danske Bank and three Norwegian airlines were affected by the attack. The DDoS caused traffic problems for company websites and disrupted access throughout the day, as well as affecting banks' online payment services. Norway's National Security Agency is investigating the attack but has been unable to identify the perpetrators yet, however it is suspected that Anonymous Norway are behind the attack.

ICO to publish guidance on big data

The Information Commissioner's Office has revealed it will soon publish data protection guidance for businesses around big data. The ICO has stated that the new technology was raising more data protection issues than ever before. Network security companies have indicated the need for guidance on issues such as what physical security technology companies should have in place to protect information being used for big data purposes. The news comes as the ICO has requested increased government funding to deal with its mounting workload attributable to the series of data security and privacy controversies hitting the headlines in recent times.

David Cameron announces GBP 1 billion defence spend

A huge investment is to be made in the British military to fight "unseen enemies" which includes the perpetrators of cyber attacks. The Prime Minister has stated that the investment demonstrates the government's approach to national security and the appreciation of remote threats. The funding pot includes an extra GBP 800 million of investment in an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance package. According to 10 Downing Street, the investment will bolster special forces' ability to deal with the threat of global terrorism and cyber attack.

Apple hits back at China

Apple has denied the accusation that its iPhone threatens Chinese national security after the state broadcaster released reports that it could transmit "state secrets". It was stated that the iOS 7 frequent locations function collected data on where individual iPhone users went. Apple has retaliated by saying that it would never track users, and that it does not have access to the data which is locally stored. Although Apple has admitted to using a "crowd-sourced" database of known locations collected from millions of devices to speed up its location-finding service, it has reassured users that no data could be used to identify them individually.

BT cleared of major privacy breach

The Information Commissioner's Office has probed into BT's webmail system after a whistleblower exposed evidence that appeared to show that BT's customer email accounts were being compromised by spammers. The investigation has now concluded and complaints have been dismissed by the regulator. The ICO has stated that it is satisfied BT has complied with the Data Protection Act after scrutinising its security measures and testing. The conclusion of the investigation comes as the company suffered yet another service disruption at the weekend striking thousands of email accounts for several days. BT have apologised for the technical issues experienced.

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