Tag Archives: data protection

Marked ‘private and confidential’

Internet cafes serve up secrets

Last week I worked on a Sunday Times investigation into data breaches at internet cafes. Three reporters checked internet cafe computers around the country to see whether confidential data had been left in the computer memories.

And how. Simply by checking the desktop, documents and ‘my pictures’ folder, we stumbled across a treasure trove of private information: scanned copies of passports, visa applications, birth certificates, legal documents; a report from the editor-in-chief of a well-known property magazine detailing its legal struggles with a “confessed reformed cocaine addict”; a fax to a resident at the Dorchester referring to ‘the hostage situation in Cameroon’ and several databases of names, addresses and private details of vulnerable individuals left by care workers or civil servants.

The chain Mailbox Etc were the worst offenders, with no log-in/out process and irregular wiping of computer memories. I found documents dating back to mid 2012 on some machines. Many small independent cafes were among the best, such as the L2K Internet Gaming Centre in Manchester, which restricted users’ access to the computer memory.

The Information Commissioner announced that it would be investigating a number of bodies for a breach of confidentiality as a result of our investigation.

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold. Continue reading

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Facebook’s ‘shadow profiles’

 

While researching this full page news-feature for The Sunday Times, I spoke to the Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems, of the group Europe v Facebook.

He told me that he first became interested in Facebook’s policies when he realised the extent to which the social media giant’s tactics appeared to conflict with European privacy laws.

To demonstrate the huge amount of information held for each user, he requested a copy of all of his private data held by the company under data protection laws. Printed out, it formed 1,222 sides of A4 paper – and much of the data held he thought he had deleted. It wasn’t deleted, it was only hidden from view.

Check out his campaign: http://www.europe-v-facebook.org.

Full text on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

Continue reading

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