A Quick Legal Question

If you are a member of an organisation, say, The Labour Party, and they pass on your email address (and those of 1000s of other people) to private citizens who want to become Labour Candidate for, say, the post of Police & Crime Commissioner, are you breaking the Data Protection Act?

Does it make a difference if the organisation does this on the strict condition that the private citizen delete the email addresses after the campaign?

My gut feeling is they are breaking the law.

Firstly, while selection of candidates is Labour Party business (and thus in the remit for use of the email), the individual candidate's campaigns are not (and thus beyond what the email address was originally supplied for).

Secondly, Organisations can pass on email addresses to 3rd parties under certain situations but this, presumably, comes with a duty of care. Handing them over to anyone who happens to be standing, who have (potentially) no knowledge of the Data Protection Act and no procedures in places to ensure the act is followed, would seem to breach the organisation's obligations.

MacPro3,1 OSX 10.5.8 ATI Radeon HD 5770 Replacement Graphics Card

This is a post for the search engines and anyone needing a replacement graphics card for their MacPro3,1 (2008).

The ATI Radeon HD 5770 available from the Apple store will work in your machine regardless to what it says on the Apple web page. Apple support confirmed this and I have just installed it my Mac Pro where it is working perfectly.

Apple's web site and support also state you need 10.6 Snow Leopard to use the card. I'm running it under 10.5.8 Leopard and it works though it may be using sub-optimal drives. As I brought an upgrade to 10.6 on Apple's recommendation I'm going to install that now.

Nottingham, Have Pride in Your Rioters

The video below shows how the people of Nottingham should have pride in their rioters.

In shaky, three minute video, a group of 30+ youths petrol bombing a police station. This was an organised attack that took planning and preparation against a carefully selected target. With speed and aggression they moved in, launched their weapons and made their escape before the police could responded. Any military commander would be proud of such an operation.

Somewhere in that group is an intelligent and capable young person who organised a rabble into an effective force. A person with demonstrable leadership skills and ambition.

If only we could direct them to more productive use of their talents by providing a decent education system or job opportunities.

6d6 RPG - Or What I've Been Doing for the Last 12 Months

If you're not interested in tabletop RPGs, this might not make any sense ...

Over the last year I've been busy developing a new game system in an attempt to make a living. I thought it would take only a few months but then again, I've always been a lousy judge of time.

But, it is now here. Or at least our first product is.

Mince Pies & Murder is a one-off adventure set in 1920s Britain that draws heavily on (rips off) Agatha Christie and other crime fiction writers. The players take the role of famous detectives and try to solve a mysterious death but all is not what it seems ....

This adventure uses a very simple form of the 6d6 RPG that can be learnt in about 30 seconds. The focus of the game is playing the characters and solving the mystery, not fighting or acquiring improbable amounts of gold.

As a bit of a publicity stunt, we have made the sale of this PDF an experiment where you get to choose how to pay for it. (With a minimum of £1 because of credit card processing fees). And it will only be available for a few days.

If the idea of whodunit tickles your fancy, get yourself over to 6d6 RPG.

Caught by the (Psuedo) Fuzz

Last night I went for a walk and as I was approaching home, a car came from behind, pulled along side me and voice called out.

"Hey mate, do you live locally?"

Looking round, I expected someone seeking directions but instead I noticed someone in uniform in an unmarked car. Noticing the "Police Community Support Office" tag on his shoulder so I asked who he was.

He identified himself as a police officer and that he wanted my name and address.

I asked why.

He said that he was the community office for this area, that did not recognise me and that there had been burglaries in the area and as part of his roll he liked to get to know local people.

I asked whether he was a police office and he confirmed he was so I asked to see his warrant card.

He showed me a ID card marked 'Police Staff'.

I pointed out that an ID card was not the same as a warrant card and asked if he was a police constable.

He said he wasn't. At this point I took note of his number 4702 C. Cooper.

He then asked again for my name and address. I politely declined, explaining that I did not feel he had the right to that information. He said he did. I asked him under what statute he thought he had that right and he dug out a little a book. This listed all the powers given to the community officers by the Chief Constable. It took in a couple of minutes to find the right bit (he commented that people don't normally ask for this) and showed me an entry that said "Require Name & Address, Section 4(?) of the Police Reform Act 2002".

Accepting that as evidence I proceed to give him my name and address which he duly entered into a electronic device (a Blackberry I think). He then asked if I had been in trouble with the police before. I refused to answer that question.

He then asked if I had just moved to the area. I refused to answer that question.

There followed a lengthy exchange I as politely explained that I disagreed with many of the police powers introduced over recent years and that the whole idea of police randomly stopping people was wrong. Officer Cooper explained that if was a local resident I would be happy to have the police stopping people and getting to know them.

I asked how big his patrol area was and it turned out that it was half of Beeston plus some of Stableford and Wollaton. He became defensive when I pointed out that it covered at least 10,000 people not to mention the busy roads and shopping areas this covered and how impossible it was for him to get to know everyone in that area. When asked why he choose to stop me* refused to respond. He claimed that there had been a spate of burglaries in the area and local residents should be happy about this police action. When asked where this burglaries were he revealed the area in question was Broxtowe in general (30 sq miles, population 112,000). When asked, he also revealed that there had been none near where I had been stopped either that night or recently.

Once he had taken my details I asked for a Stop receipt that he duly filled out and I have a copy.

I should note that the conversation was polite at all times.

Further Action

1) A quick look at the 2002 Police Reform act suggests that the name & address powers only apply to anti-social behaviour. This is not the case and the stop receipt identifies the reason for stop as "Part of a preplanned operation".

I will investigate further but a complaint may be heading towards the Chief Constable / Police Complaints Authority.

2) Check local crime figures. The last minutes of the police authority boasts of a significant reduction in burglaries. More digging required to see about Broxtowe specifically.

3) FoI requests about the number of stops performed over the last couple of years. Broken down by Police / Community officers if possible.

4) Letter to local council and MP about lack of training of community officers assuming I'm right about 1. Also complaint about use of unmarked cars. If Jess had been stopped in that situation, I hope she would run and call the police about someone harassing her.

5) Look into what happens to the data collected from the Stop and what options I have to remove it. (None I suspect).

* I suspect I was stopped because of "Wearing a hoodie in a built up area". It was cold and drizzling so my hood was up whilst on a quiet suburban street.

Three Things You Might Not Know About The Census

27th March 2011 is Census day.

This year marks a significant change in how the census is handled that raises serious privacy issues.

1) The Census data is being processed by US company Lockheed Martin, whose company officers and executives have no choice under the US Patriot Act but to allow US Government agencies to access our unredacted, not yet anonymised Census data.

2) You can complete the census via the website but the National Office for Statistics have given no promise that information such as IP address won't be logged nor that tracking systems control by foreign countries (e.g. Google Analytics) will not be used.

3) The legal guarantee that personal data from the Census will not be shared with the intelligence agencies, the police, the immigration authorities, the tax authorities, foreign governments or private sector companies has been abolished. This dated back to the 1921 Census act but was quietly removed under the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 section 39.

For more on the census and how the National Office of Statistics is trying to use spin to avoid awkward questions read 2011 Census press and social media "incident" media spin preparations.

Why Anti-Terror Laws Suck

Nine men in court charged with terror offences

which is a follow up to

Anti-terror raids lead to 12 suspects being held

You'll notice the discrepancy between the two numbers.

The three other people were released without charge after seven days. Effectively they served a one week prison sentence but because they were arrested under anti-terror legislation, they had less rights than a pedophilic serial killer.

I've no idea who these people are, they may be unlucky lodgers caught up in the sweep or lucky co-conspirators who have got away with it. But the police probably had a good idea who they were because the arrests came "after several months of surveillance and monitoring by police and MI5 officers".

Though if after "after several months of surveillance" and a week of questioning etc the police still cannot charge any of them under the incredibly broad and ill-defined anti-terror laws, I suspect they are innocent.

What difference would it have made if the standard 24/48 hour detention rules been in place?

Very little I suspect. Except that three men would not of lost a week of their lives.