UK surveillance law faces court challenge

The High Court is considering a challenge brought last week against emergency surveillance legislation on the grounds that it breaches human rights. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), which provides the Government with extensive powers to harvest and retain digital data, was fast-tracked through parliament last summer after the EU Court of Justice ruled previous measures were illegal. If the court application is successful, the Act could either be sent back to parliament for revision under UK human rights law, or struck down under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Landmark report says UK Government should retain data retention powers

With the DRIPA set to expire in 2016, the Government has already outlined its plans for a new Investigatory Powers Bill in the Queen's Speech. The new bill is likely to be similar to last year's proposed Communications Data Bill, which was blocked by the Liberal Democrats, but which would have required ISPs and web firms to retain metadata on customer communications for at least a year. The 373-page official report into the Government's surveillance powers released today and commissioned by the Prime Minister in 2014 recommends that the Government should maintain its current controversial powers to gather bulk communications data. The report does however advise that "strict additional safeguards" should be incorporated into any new legislation and that judges rather than ministers should authorise interception requests.

NHS patients' details "shared against their wishes"

It emerged that health data pertaining to up to 700,000 patients of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) has been passed on to organisations in spite of their express instructions not to share it. The body responsible for processing health data and providing IT systems to the NHS, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), told MPs last week that it did not have sufficient resources to cope with the number of opt-outs and other technical issues. The HSCIC was originally tasked with building a huge medical database of UK patients, but these plans were shelved in March 2014.

USA Freedom Act passed by Senate

Telecoms companies will take over responsibility for collecting communications records following the Senate's approval of the USA Freedom Bill on 6 June. The Act will bring to an end the mass collection of such data by the American intelligence agencies. During its passage through the Senate several proposed amendments, which sought to temper the reforms aimed at bringing greater transparency, were voted down.

US government workers at risk after massive cyber attack

The US agency responsible for federal government employees, the Office for Personnel Management, announced last week it will begin contacting up to 4 million workers who could have been affected by a "massive" breach which it unearthed while upgrading their cybersecurity systems. The OPM will offer them complimentary identity theft insurance and credit monitoring. It said that it did not believe data such as background checks had been stolen in the attack in April this year.

Trade deal is a "threat to internet privacy and freedom"

Last week sections of a controversial trade deal being conducted between the US, the EU and other countries including Mexico, Canada and Israel, were disclosed by Wikileaks. The leaked documents reportedly reveal amendments to the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) which prevent states from insisting that data is stored locally and remove existing powers over whether data can be accessed from outside the state.

Audi pledges to safeguard customer data

Rupert Stadler the CEO of Audi announced this week that the company would protect the privacy of customers of its software-driven cars. Questions have been raised regarding who would have the rights to data collected by devices in self-driving cars. Speaking at a business event in Berlin, Mr Stadler said that only the driver should have access to information relating to the car's speed and location.