US wiretap case could be the key to Google transparency compliance in Europe

By Simon Davies In one of the most important online privacy developments of recent years, the Italian data protection regulator has issued a ruling that requires Google not only to explicitly inform users of the extent of commercial processing of their data, but to also secure customer consent before that data can be used. It …

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July 23, 2014

Why national security should be subjected to the same rules as health authorities

By Simon Davies Just for a moment, let’s imagine the unimaginable. Imagine that national security agencies were forced to undergo the same competition and internal market tests that apply, increasingly, to other government agencies. It’s a wild thought, but a tantalizing one. What would happen if national security agencies had to present an actual case …

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July 21, 2014

New report shows global opposition to NSA spying is based on privacy, not ideology

By Simon Davies The largest global study conducted to-date on public attitudes to communications surveillance in the post-Snowden era has revealed widespread opposition to US spying across all continents. The Pew Research Center’s “Global Attitudes Project” conducted extensive interviews with participants in 44 countries and identified heightened public concern over surveillance of citizens by the …

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July 16, 2014

Confused about data retention? You won’t be after reading this

By Simon Davies The UK government has introduced emergency legislation called the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. It is a thoroughly confusing piece of law, highly dangerous to privacy and a blatant abuse of democratic process. To help explain what it’s all about here’s a conversation between David Cameron and the ambulance service. We’re …

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July 15, 2014

Britain takes the Uganda Road to legalise and extend state surveillance

By Simon Davies In a rare moment of political unity, reminiscent of the days that followed the 9/11 attacks on the US, all three major UK parties have signed onto “emergency” legislation that will force Internet and phone companies to store data on the activities of all their customers. Borrowing from the techniques of some …

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July 10, 2014

Outrage grows as British Airways bans passengers with beards

By Simon Davies British Airways this week announced sweeping new security measures that will permit the airline to turn away passengers who are carrying a mobile phone that isn’t fully charged. In the past any suspect device could be confiscated. Under the new rules the passenger’s seat is confiscated. Media organisations have been struggling to …

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July 8, 2014

Free Speech hypocrisy is not helping us resolve the Right to be Forgotten

By Simon Davies In his column this week for Britain’s Observer newspaper, the enormously entertaining David Mitchell reflected on a recent shock decision by Google to sever its search links to a blog post authored by the respected UK business journalist Robert Peston. The decision stems – ostensibly – from a recent judgement by the …

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July 7, 2014

The Queen’s gut-wrenching Independence Day message to America

EXCLUSIVE to the Privacy Surgeon   My dear colonists, On the occasion of your loud celebration of independence from Britain, I have decided to break precedent by offering this royal salutation from across the pond. I need to begin by acknowledging the elephant in the room. You might not know this, but your stroppy tantrum …

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July 4, 2014

Why the UN must sever ties with the world’s biggest private security company

By Simon Davies The question of whether the controversial global security giant G4S is institutionally amoral or merely ambivalent about its societal responsibilities amounts to the same outcome: the company is starting to pollute the global human rights initiatives that it has hypocritically signed up to. With over twelve thousand corporate participants, the most prominent …

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June 29, 2014

Google takes a dangerous stride from your head to your home

By Simon Davies Odds are that the next big swoon for tech journalists will be the Internet enabled smart home, whose clever interconnected devices could eventually outwit even the most street-smart homeowner. So when market leader Nest Labs this week announced that it was opening up its “conscious home” platform to developers, most media commentators …

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June 26, 2014

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