Weekly News Round-up 21/10/16

UK News

UK security agencies unlawfully collected data for 17 years

British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade, senior judges have ruled.

The tribunal said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) – the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications – failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public.

The ruling comes as the House of Lords is debating the final stages of the investigatory powers bill – the snooper’s charter – which will put the security services’ mass digital surveillance on a clear legal footing for the first time.

Full article here.

What could happen if the article 50 legal challenge is successful?

Judgment is awaited on whether parliament or the government has authority to give formal notification under article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. The government claims it is entitled to do so under the executive powers it has inherited from the crown under the royal prerogative.

Victory for the claimants would hand responsibility for triggering Brexit to MPs. Whether a majority would have the nerve to delay or defy the referendum result is unknown.

Full article here.

Home Office rules out ‘inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical’ dental checks to verify age of Calais refugee children

Questions have been raised about the ages of 14 refugees who were brought to the UK this week from the “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais.

The Home Office has no way of independently verifying the age of child refugees being brought to the UK. Home Office documents show that if a refugee does not have a birth certificate, a Home Office screening officer can certify them as a child based on their “physical appearance” or “demeanour”.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We do not use dental X-rays to confirm the ages of those seeking asylum in the UK. The British Dental Association has described them as inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical.”

Full article here.

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Weekly News Round-up 14/10/16

UK News

Snooping technology ‘used by at least seven police forces’

Controversial surveillance technology that indiscriminately harvests information from mobile phones is being used by at least seven police forces across the country, a far larger number than previously known, according to police documents.

The hardware, known as an IMSI catcher, tricks mobile phone handsets across an area of several miles into connecting to them by impersonating cellphone towers, and can be used to pinpoint phone owners’ locations or intercept phone calls and text messages.

Matthew Rice, an advocacy officer at the campaign group Privacy International, said: “IMSI catchers, by their very nature, operate indiscriminately, gathering information from all individuals in the particular operating area. This collateral intrusion into the private lives of many innocent individuals is deeply concerning in any context let alone one that is, almost deliberately, opaque.”

Full article here.

Legal aid cuts creating two-tier justice system, says Amnesty

Cuts to legal aid are far worse than anticipated and are creating a “two-tier” system which denies the poorest people access to justice, warns a critical report by Amnesty International.

The report calls for all children to be granted entitlement to legal aid regardless of the issues at stake. Some teenagers, it says, are at risk of having to represent themselves in immigration cases where they may face deportation.

One lawyer told Amnesty: “The idea that children and young people can represent themselves just does not work. This is such a vulnerable group. It’s not just that they don’t understand legal processes and legal concepts, which they don’t, but it’s also that they have no idea how to fill forms out properly, what to write, where to send paperwork, where to get advice and who to speak to.”

Full article here.

Government tells non-UK academics not to submit Brexit analysis
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Weekly News Round-up 07/10/16

UK News

Parents are being asked to disclose their child’s nationality of births

Human rights groups are concerned that the data, collected for the first time this year from pupils aged two to 19 as part of the schools census, could be used against children and their families by immigration enforcement.

The Department for Education (DfE) insists that the information will not be handed to the Home Office and that the data is being collected and input to the national pupil database (NPD) to ensure children “receive the best possible education”. However, disclosures under freedom of information laws have shown that the Home Office has been handed NPD data on 18 occasions since 2012, while police requests for information from the dataset were granted 31 times.

Full Guardian article here.

Theresa May speech at the Tory party conference

Mrs May is taking her party rightward and at moments sounded more like Nigel Farage, the doyen of the populist UK Independence Party. She took aim at liberal politicians and commentators who “find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal” and “left wing, activist human-rights lawyers”. Companies will be made to declare how many of their staff are foreigners, to shame those who do not hire natives.

Full Economist article here.

Human rights lawyers criticise Theresa Mays plans to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in future conflicts Continue reading