GDPR – What About The Government And Their Agencies And Authorities?
By TruePublica: By now you should be ‘up to the teeth’ in emails from organisations desperately attempting to comply with new EU regulations about personal data. What has probably surprised you is the number of organisations that actually have your personal contact information and if you’ve been reading this stuff carefully, just how many are still not complying with the law.
However, it’s about time that laws came it to protect individual rights and right to privacy
Very briefly, the GDPR applies to ‘personal data’. However, the GDPR’s definition is quite detailed and makes it clear that information such as an online identifier – eg an IP address – can be personal data. It applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems where personal data are accessible according to specific criteria.
Personal data that has been pseudonymised – eg key-coded – falls within its scope as does sensitive personal data as “special categories of personal data.” Special categories specifically include genetic data and biometric data where processed to uniquely identify an individual.
Have you received an email from UK government authorities and agencies that collect all sorts of personal data such as biometrics including facial recognition system images? Everything from personal tax to health records, from immigration movements to the electoral records and much, much more.
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Under GDPR – You now have the right to be informed, The right of access, The right to rectification The right to erasure The right to restrict processing, The right to data portability, The right to object, Rights related to automated decision making and profiling. Except of course, when it comes to the government.
Search engines and social media platforms have been falling over themselves to comply at the last minute along with all those online shops, newsletters and alerts you signed up to. The Verge has just reported that: “On the first day of GDPR enforcement, Facebook and Google have been hit with a raft of lawsuits accusing the companies of coercing users into sharing personal data. The lawsuits, which seek to fine Facebook 3.9 billion and Google 3.7 billion euro (roughly $8.8 billion in dollars), were filed by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, a longtime critic of the companies’ data collection practices.”
What this means is that social media platforms and search engines are going to pay the price for breaking the law.
And yet nothing has happened by the biggest data breaching organisation in the world today. Appeal court judges ruled just a few months ago that the British government’s mass digital surveillance regime is unlawful. It was fundamentally ruled as illegal because of the “lack of safeguards, including the absence of “prior review by a court or independent administrative authority”.
The court did not rule against it on the basis that no-one gave the government permission to illegally hack into our lives using third-party software, developers and corporations.
It’s not just the mass collection of data by private firms acting on behalf of the government, there are hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are innocent victims or witnesses to crime, that were not and not still protected against data breaches and misuse by the government or their agencies.
Martha Spurrier, the director of Liberty, said: “Yet again a UK court has ruled the government’s extreme mass surveillance regime unlawful. This judgement tells ministers in crystal clear terms that they are breaching the public’s human rights.”
So, here we have a new law we all know as GDPR that is supposed to be there to protect our privacy and protect citizens from misuse of that data – when the state itself has collected and retained – without consent:
Your, name, address, date of birth, gender, income, expenditure, political and sexual preferences, movements, associations, friends, family members, social media posts, online activities, mobile phone use, contacts book, and travel movements. Millions of compromising images were also harvested in Operation Optic Nerve. This is in addition to your stealing your usernames and passwords along with information on subscriptions and future calendar movements.
Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ used a hacking program codenamed Optic Nerve to view British citizens in their homes as they used their webcam chat systems. This was only revealed when former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden published the information from classified documents. GCHQ called these images ‘undesirable nudity’ which included that of small children in their homes.
Civil liberty campaigners rightly expressed their horror at the scale of the surveillance of people who were not suspected of a crime. But it wasn’t just about the scale of it, it was the type of surveillance that is truly horrifying. But that didn’t stop the government who were caught red-handed, blatantly committing privacy crimes on a scale not seen before in any democracy the world over. The Home Secretary at the time was Theresa May who now presides over a government where the state has now been described thus:
- Britain now ranked alongside some of the worst countries in the world for abuse of privacy rights
- the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy
- directly opposing human rights
- worse than scary
- threatens freedom of expression, UN human rights experts warn