UK Government revives "snooper's charter"

It emerged this week that a draft bill extending the government's powers to retain communications records will be reintroduced following the Conservative party's election victory. The draft communications data bill (dubbed the "snoopers' charter" by civil rights campaigners) was previously blocked by the Conservatives' then coalition partners. The revised draft bill extends the original proposals and gives law enforcement agencies greater access to records.

French Senate considers intelligence law

The French parliament has approved a bill which will allow communications to be tapped without the permission of a judge, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in January at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish grocery store. The bill, which is now before the Senate, also gives security forces powers to collect internet users' metadata for analysis. President Francois Hollande has given assurances that the bill will also go before the country's constitutional court.

German data retention measures boosted

Proposed changes to German data retention laws would cut the period during which records of phone calls and IP addresses could be held from six months to ten weeks, as well as limiting the Bundestag's powers to retain such data within Germany only. A previous draft bill, which allowed for data to be held in other EU states, was rejected in 2014 for violating public privacy.

Phone-hacking: Mirror Group ordered to pay celebrities GBP 1.25m

Eight celebrities whose phones were hacked by journalists at Mirror Group newspapers have been awarded GBP 1.25m in damages. Among the victims of what the judge described as "serious and prolonged" invasions of privacy were the actress Sadie Frost and the former footballer Paul Gascoigne. Mirror Group has set aside GBP 16m to deal with further claims.

Android smartphone weakness could affect 500 million devices

A new study finds that up to 500 million android smartphones could pose a risk to users' privacy because the "factory reset" function does not erase all records. According to researchers from Cambridge University who tested devices from five manufacturers, text messages and voicemails could still be accessed following a reset. It is feared that unless users are informed and manufacturers take steps to boost operating systems security, criminals could use confidential information to blackmail victims.

IRS application system hacked in USD 50m scam

The US revenue service has frozen an online application system after it emerged this week that criminals had used it to hack into historical tax returns relating to some 100,000 US taxpayers.  They stole personal data which was then used to complete fraudulent tax returns using multi-step authentication. USD 50m had already been paid out in refunds by the time the IRS uncovered the scam.

RadioShack customer data "not for sale"

It was announced this week that customer data will not be sold off by insolvent electronics company RadioShack, after a mediation agreement was reached between 38 states and the buyer, General Wireless Operations. It means 67 million customer names and addresses will not be included in the asset sale. The owners of recently active email addresses will be given the chance to opt out of the transfer as part of the deal.