Snoopers Paradise: Data Protection & the ‘Snoopers Charter’

When does safeguarding become snooping?

The government drafted the Investigatory Powers Bill in a bid to strengthen online security. Criticised for being too invasive, despite attempts to amend the Bill, it remains firmly referred to as the ‘Snoopers Charter’. Many fear that it may expose confidential legal professional communications between clients and legal professionals to unprecedented scrutiny.

If legal professional privilege is eroded it will likely vanish forever and along with it the power of the profession to protect clients from invasions by the state. Now that the Bill has been passed by members of parliament it will be debated by the Lords. In the face of cyber-attacks such as the recent Tesco Bank hacking it is likely that the Bill will receive Royal assent shortly.

snoopers charter confidentiality

Would you want your virtual persona to be your interface with the outer world?

Imagine a world where your eligibility for housing, education, and employment is determined by your social media score. This scenario is explored in Charlie Brooker’s speculative work (Episode 1 ’Nosedive’, series three of Black Mirror) and the result is regressive, social segregation. Worryingly this fiction is infiltrating reality. Insurers for example are increasingly collecting and monitoring data to analyse customers:

  • Vitality health insurance now offer a Smart watch. The more activity you undertake, the cheaper the premium. The aim being perhaps that those incentivised become healthier and the amount of claims reduced?
  • Admiral car insurance have devised an algorithm to identify safe drivers by analysing their Facebook profile. Presumably an expanse of personal data will be amassed and lucky applicants won’t mind as they will receive a reduced premium?

Will Brexit open or enforce the data floodgates?

The Data Protection Act 1998 is the key domestic statute in this area but the law will likely evolve on the dawning of Brexit. Moving forwards, the UK will have to strike a shrewd balance between mobilising free movement of data without becoming a data haven.

Whatever legislation is in place it remains the case that sensible choices can be made to protect your data exposure and precautionary steps can be taken to frustrate fraudsters…

How to safeguard you and your home against hacking

With the number of homes and businesses run by ‘smart’ devices on the rise, so is the number of hackers targeting them. Systems without adequate passwords can easily be hacked, wreaking havoc on individuals, companies and servers, preventing access to the internet, compromising personal and financial security. The following pointers may assist:

  • Ensure that all appliances have their own individual passwords. Older devices may not have default password protection.
  • Don’t trust sudden or secretive communications from people/entities you are not familiar with which apply pressure for personal details or seem too good to be true.

If you have encountered any data protection or fraud issues or have a query regarding confidentiality or disclosure please contact Burt Brill & Cardens on 01273 604123.