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Showing posts from January, 2008

CCTV sound recording - a step too far

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From vnunet.com - 30/01/08The ICO has described the use of sound recording in CCTV equipment as "highly intrusive".A new ICO code of practice outlines key issues which organisations and businesses must consider when routinely capturing images of individuals on CCTV. The ICO warned that the use of sound recording could only be justified in highly exceptional circumstances.The decision follows recent research revealing that seven out of 10 individuals oppose the idea of CCTV cameras recording their conversations.Furthermore, over half of individuals are not aware that the use of CCTV cameras is covered by the Data Protection Act.Jonathan Bamford, assistant commissioner at the ICO: "It is essential that organisations and businesses use CCTV responsibly in order to maintain public trust and confidence and to prevent its use becoming viewed as part of the 'surveillance society'."No kidding. Obviously CTTV has considerable benefits in the fight against crime but …

"Qtrax 'free music' launch a dud"

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From News.com.au - 29/01//08:MUSIC-SHARING application Qtrax has launched one day late with a glitch that prevents users from downloading music. Earlier this week Qtrax grabbed international attention by claiming it would launch a free, advertising-funded music download service with the blessing of major labels EMI, Warner Music, Sony BMG and Universal. The launch was expected at 12am (4pm AEST) on Monday but was unexpectedly delayed after all major labels denied signing any agreements with Qtrax.My own experience with this software simply mirrors the misery that other users have enjoyed, given what I've read online.  It's horribly slow, features an awful skin, has an illogical and awkward UI and worst of all, doesn't even work.  The whole launch has been a debacle from start to finish - launching before having major record labels signed up and now it's finally online, delivers a sub-standard service.  Moving forward, it'll be interesting to see what happens.  It m…

Happy Data Protection Day

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From: The Council of Europe - Data Protection Day - 28/01/08The aim of the Data Protection Day is to give European citizens the chance to understand what personal data is collected and processed about them and why, and what their rights are with respect to this processing.They should also be made aware of the risks inherent and associated with the illegal mishandling and unfair processing of their personal data.The objective of the Data Protection Day is therefore to inform and educate the public at large as to their day-to-day rights, but it may also provide data protection professionals with the opportunity of meeting data subjects.Bit ironic really, given the data protection crisis currently plaguing the UK.  Perhaps we should have opted out of it this year.

A castle in a haystack

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From: Daily Mail 27/01/08Hiding a needle in a haystack is easy enough. But Robert Fidler kept something much bigger concealed among the piles of straw down on his farm... a castle. Over the course of two years, he managed to secretly – and unlawfully – build the imposing mock  Tudor structure in one of his fields, shielded behind a 40ft stack of hay bales covered by a huge tarpaulins. Once it was finished, he and his family moved in and lived there for four years before finally revealing the development – complete with battlements and cannons – in August 2006.Mr Fidler claims that because the building has been there for four years with no objections, it is no longer illegal. But he is under siege from council planners, who say the castle at Honeycrock Farm, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey, will have to be knocked downYou've got to hand it to him for trying at least.  I very nearly emailed the Daily Mail to correct what I initially believed was a grammatical error in their article and a…

Retired US Cop scours chat rooms policing the pervs

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From Yahoo News 25/01/08:No one will ever confuse Jim Murray with a teenager. His tall frame, broad shoulders and clipped gray hair give him away for the grandfather he is.But the 69-year-old retired police chief of this small Missouri town cuts a credible figure as a 13-year-old girl surfing the Web, looking for friends. He knows all the instant-messaging shorthand, the emoticons.Murray's retirement job from a rural home office has netted 20 arrests since he started in 2002. His latest catch was the biggest: four felony enticement charges against a town mayor, who after his arrest called Murray up and begged him to make the case go away.Internet child safety experts say police officers like Murray are heroes who do good work at the cost of wading through the muck of online pedophile fantasies.This quirky story caught my eye on Yahoo news earlier. I remember watching a documentary a year or two ago which followed a branch of the UK police who were tasked with ‘policing the pervs’…

Quantum of Solace

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From: 007.comQuantum of Solace continues the high octane adventures of James Bond (Daniel Craig) in Casino Royale.Betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. Pursuing his determination to uncover the truth, Bond and M (Judi Dench) interrogate Mr White (Jesper Christensen) who reveals the organisation which blackmailed Vesper is far more complex and dangerous than anyone had imagined.With the big news yesterday that the new Bond film currently in production was to be called Quantum of Solace, I’m already gearing up for the next Bond instalment, Daniel Craig style. I’ve made no bones of the fact that Casino Royale (see my review) represented a breath of fresh air to the tired and worn state that the bond film franchise had degenerated into. I’m equally excited about the new film, but am more than aware that Casino Royale represents a hard act to follow.I’ve read a lot of reviews and wacky opinions made in response to the limited fact…

Intellectual Undernourishment?

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From: The Times 14/01/08Google is “white bread for the mind”, and the internet is producing a generation of students who survive on a diet of unreliable information, a professor of media studies will claim this week.She believes that easy access to information has dulled students’ sense of curiosity and is stifling debate. She claims that many undergraduates arrive at university unable to discriminate between anecdotal and unsubstantiated material posted on the internet. “I call this type of education ‘the University of Google’. “Google offers easy answers to difficult questions. But students do not know how to tell if they come from serious, refereed work or are merely composed of shallow ideas, superficial surfing and fleeting commitments. I first read this article in the Times last week on an early morning journey to Portsmouth of all places. I’ve done a shocking amount of travelling this month with more still to come, worryingly. But I digress. Since then, I’ve read a whole host …

Get your bumper stickers here

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Form an orderly queue ladies and gents.  If the idea takes off, I’ll also branch out into mass-producing personal badges as well.  My inspiration? Well, after a typically bad day in Uni last November I came home and without uttering so much as a word, plonked myself down at the computer and mocked up a prototype in Publisher.  Having printed it off and duly pinned it on myself, I then proceeded to go about my evening's business sporting my aptly-worded badge, much to my girlfriend’s amusement.Naturally, there’s one available to long-suffering students on the BVC as well.  And fear not, students on the GDL – there’ll be one for you too.  The bumper stickers currently retail at the very competitive price of £4.99, 25 pence from each sale is donated to the charity, 'Save the Law Students'.

"Carphone Warehouse broke Data Protection Act, says ICO"

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From Outlaw News 17/01/08“The Carphone Warehouse allowed customers to view other people's account details, passed inaccurate information on to debt collectors and opened accounts in the wrong name, according to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).The actions were in breach of the Data Protection Act and the ICO has issued Carphone Warehouse and sister company Talk Talk with enforcement notices ordering them to comply with the Data Protection Act. If they fail to do so they risk a criminal prosecution."Both companies failed to meet the basic principles of the Data Protection Act," said an ICO statement.Carphone Warehouse said that the incidents happened when the company was extremely busy.” Sounds about right.This story is worthy of a mention on law actually for at least two good reasons. Firstly, frequent readers of my blog will recall my penchant for covering stories relating to data protection issues and associated bungles, foul-ups and all the rest of it.…

Leslie Ash awarded £5 million after hospital debacle

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From: The Times Online 17/01/08“Leslie Ash, the actress who contracted an infection similar to MRSA in hospital, has been awarded a record-breaking compensation package after suffering years of paralysis in her lower body. The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital agreed yesterday to pay Ms Ash £5 million for the “shortcomings in her care” while she was a patient.”I have to ashamedly admit that this latest saga affecting Leslie Ash has entirely passed me by. In fact, the last I’d heard of her hitting the headlines was after her infamous collagen lip implants back in 2002. Where have I been for the last 3 ½ years? Actually, don’t answer that. Still, the £5 M pay-out she received makes it noteworthy enough for inclusion on Law Actually.The sorry sequence of events in her latest misfortune makes rather depressing reading:“In April 2004 she was admitted to hospital with a punctured lung and two fractured ribs after falling out of bed while making love. At the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital h…

Roadside Personal Data Dump

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From: BBC News 18/01/08“Hundreds of documents containing sensitive personal data have been found dumped on a roundabout in Devon.Details of benefit claims, passport photocopies and mortgage payments were included in the confidential data. The discovery could be another potential embarrassment for the government. Last October, two discs containing the entire child benefit database were lost in transit after they were sent by HM Revenue and Customs to the National Audit Office without being registered or encrypted. Then in December it was revealed details of three million driving theory test candidates were on a computer hard drive that went missing in the US. And earlier this month the personal details of hospital patients were lost by the NHS.” Oh boy. There seems no end to these stories. Surely there hasn’t been a massive upsurge in the public's confidential data being lost, leaked and dumped across the UK in the last 12 months? But it sure seems that way. The scariest thing, I …

Junior Lawyers Division

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As I swung by Charon QC’s blawg earlier, I noticed a snippet from the Junior Lawyers Division of The Law Society (JLD) that I read about yesterday. Despite priding myself in keeping my ear to the proverbial ground, the first I’d heard about the scheme was when an email from the Law Society arrived in my inbox saying it’d been launched. Oh well.Naturally I went on and examined the new JLD website and felt rather underwhelmed with their offerings to be honest. The email I received from the Law Society promised a rich site full of content, featuring news about regional groups, events in your area, blogs, downloads, information about a career in law and discounts on products and services.” Well, there are 2 blogs, with one post apiece, some superficial and hackneyed advice on the routes into practice and a couple downloadable PDFs pertaining to that advice.Cutting to the chase, I don’t see that this site adds a great deal to the existing wealth of information out there for potential and…

Working in-house – a trip into the bleeding obvious

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I was interested to see this article in the Times law supplement this week. Jonathan McCoy who now works as an in-house lawyer for Vodafone provided an interesting insight into life as a corporate lawyer with a company. He sets out some of the qualities needed by an in-house lawyer and the difficult-to-swallow realities that must be faced. Some are interesting and insightful – others are obvious and trite:Be prepared to leave your comfort zone. (Remind me what that is again; even as a recent graduate, I can’t remember what my comfort zone was like).Hiding away in an ivory tower isn’t looked on favourably (oh really? – why’s that then? Oh yeah, it’s just the IT dept who can get away with that).You don’t necessarily need to have a background in a specific area (but it probably helps).Be able to work fast (after all, slow lawyers are SO ‘last year’).No fence-sitters allowed (are you kidding me – the most daring lawyers go out on a limb just twice during their careers).This is all very i…

MPs lobby to criminalise data loss

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From: vnunet.com – 03/01/08“MPs on the Justice Select Committee have called for new laws to protect the integrity of personal data.The move was prompted by critical government data losses over the past few months, such as the loss of computer disks at HM Revenue & Customs.The committee called for a breach law that would make it a legal obligation for companies to notify customers if their data has been accessed and to create a system of fines for repeat offenders."The scale of the data loss by government bodies and contractors is truly shocking, but the evidence we have had points to further hidden problems," said committee chairman Alan Beith.It is frankly incredible, for example, that the measures put in place at HM Revenue & Customs were not already standard procedure.The Committee also called for the Information Commissioner to have powers to make spot checks on government departments to ensure that correct practice is being followed.These latest proposals to pun…

The Michael returns

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So, I made it back from my London trip with nothing more than moderate-to-severe sleep deprivation coupled with a deeply-seated frustration re. the state of Britain’s rail network, and the nation’s infamously bad weather. Yes, I WAS caught in the melee of rail disruptions yesterday on my journey back, I WAS pressed into a rail carriage with the space and dignity afforded to an average tinned sardine and I WAS absolutely correct in my prediction that my London trip was going to be bad.Having gotten back around 10.45 last night, I’ve spent the day catching up on sleep, emails and a host of other things. I noticed sadly that this blog was given short shrift in Charon’s much anticipated ‘Blawg Review’ – what was all that about?!? Listing Law Actually under ‘and… some good student blogs I enjoy reading’ – I mean, seriously! Does the guy not recognise great content when he sees it? Just kidding, Charon.I was disappointed, though, to see that Law Actually had slipped down the Google ranking…

Off to London

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The Michael heard earlier this week that he must travel to London for 5 days on 'urgent business'.  While initially being less than pleased, I've now resigned myself to the fact that a) I must do it, b) it's gonna be bad and c) well, there isn't really a c).  You get the idea.  I'm not happy.So, blawgwatchers, this will be my final posting until sometime late next week, when I'll be back, presumably full of doom and gloom and bad stories about my week in the 'big smoke'.Oh, and being 12th night, I've made sure that my Law Actually Christmas decorations are down in good time.  Whoopeedoo.  Roll on next year, eh!  Sigh.

“...After 400 yards, you’ll be driven up the freaking wall”

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My girlfriend was bought a SatNav phone for Christmas, and unsurprisingly has been itching to use it at every opportunity since. Accordingly, therefore, when we tootled out on a shopping excursion today, the trusty device was pressed into action. I was yet to learn what a domineering and forceful nagger this device was. Reminiscent of an overbearing and officious back-seat-driver, riding with such a device is an insufferable cross between a driving instructor from hell and a 1950s housewife. Before we’d even driven out of the car park, it was barking out orders. And erroneous ones at that. In true Sergeant-Major fashion, it snarled its opening instruction: “turn right and then sharp right onto ....”.Therein lay the first problem . “But we’re going left, aren’t we,”? I queried.  Trying to quickly comprehend the logic in operation, I suggested, “so we just do the opposite of each direction, yeah”? Well, apparently it wasn’t as simple as that. After the opening salvo, I bitched back at …

CBE for BBC Computer-Dude

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From: vnunet.com 02/01/08"Professor Steve Furber has been awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours for his work in bringing PCs into UK homes.Professor Furber is best known for his work at Acorn Computers, where he helped to design the BBC Microcomputer in 1981. The device became particularly successful as an educational tool, and was one of the first machines to be widely used in people's homes."Oh boy.  I remember using one of these monsters back at primary school and geez, it was nearly as bad as my reptilian Amstrad CPC 6128 Plus.  The 'Plus' by the way, actually denoted that that particular model came bundled with extra headaches, annoyances and problems.  Still, I vaguely remember that the BBC computer at my school had a few quirky games with it.  I particularly recall one featuring a witch of some description.  Quite fitting, really, given some of my early female teachers.

Victim will testify from the grave

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Okay, I have to admit that even I, a hardened law student, was taken-in by such juicy, nonsensical headlines that I saw on various news sites today and couldn't help but click on the links.  That damn click-happy finger of mine.  From: AOL News 02/01/08"Julie Jensen will essentially testify from the grave when her husband's murder trial begins this week.
Shortly before her death in 1998, Jensen told police, a neighbor and her son's teacher that she suspected her spouse was trying to kill her, court documents show. She gave a letter to the neighbor that said that if she died, Mark Jensen should be the first suspect.
Until recent years, using such evidence in court was virtually unheard of because of constitutional guarantees that give criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers.
But the Wisconsin Supreme Court created new rules, prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that laid the groundwork for her accusatory letter and statements to police to b…

Happy 2008

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As 2007 went out with something of a whimper and the brand new, sparkling 2008 swept in, I found myself yet again asking what all the fuss was about.  Oh well.  I suppose I must resign myself to the fact that I never have and probably never will 'get' New Year.  Sigh.And of 2008? Well, as seems fitting for me these days, I've had my technical hat firmly on and been attempting to troubleshoot a litany of technical computer headaches and connectivity problems, none of which have been straightforward.  The fact I've had to carry out such technical assistance, remotely, that is, on another continent to the 'client' has only heightened the challenge.  So while I vaguely ponder that it will soon be time to get back to some 'law' (yeah, whatever the hell that is) I remain firmly the tech guru at the moment.  So as of 23.30 on 1st January 2008 I can say the following the still trouble me:Does the Scientific Atlanta WebSTAR DPC2100 Cable Modem REALLY require Vis…