Some readers, particularly those I asked to subscribe, might remember I wrote a series of articles on the state of Britain for a website called Beacon in 2014-15. It was initially set up as a pay-walled multi-writer blog, where you subscribed to one writer and gained access to everyone. I had fun writing for it and made a modest amount of money writing articles I would not have written otherwise.
The Register has published my walking tour of Cambridge’s computing history from Alan Turing (King’s College) to Clive Sinclair (6a King’s Parade, just across the street). On the way, it takes in Porgy the bear, EDSAC, Acorn, Elite, Robert Maxwell and a fight in the Baron of Beef. Continue reading
Britain’s security and intelligence agencies used not to exist, officially. Now, you can download documents discussing MI5 officers’ failures to fill out electronic forms. On 3 May, someone new to the approval process for accessing bulk personal datasets reported that it was being over-ridden. One imagines he or she was unpopular with colleagues; hats off, nevertheless, for protecting both the privacy of the largely innocent people on those databases and MI5’s reputation. Continue reading
Team GB’s medal-winners from Rio 2016 come from all over the country and beyond, as this interactive map of those winning individual medals shows. (Click on a pointer for data on each medal-winner.)
Last week, Computer Weekly published my article headlined ‘MI5 staff repeatedly overrode data surveillance rules’. This was one of several interesting stories contained within the documents released by Privacy International in late July which I rounded up in the article, another being specific statements by GCHQ, MI5 and SIS (or MI6) in witness statements that they do not retain bulk personal datasets of medical records, from the NHS or anywhere else.
Tweeting this attracted a fair bit of attention, including some querying the careful language quoted in the article. Given the interest, here are the sections regarding medical records from each of the three agencies, all from this document which contains the three witness statements. By bulk personal datasets (BPDs), the agencies mean untargeted data covering a lot of people, most of whom will be innocent – the haystack rather than just the needles. Continue reading