Christopher Graham asks advisers to look at encryption and other technology issues raised by Edward Snowden’s disclosures

Britain’s information commissioner, Christopher Graham, has asked his expert advisers to investigate the impact of Edward Snowden’s disclosures of the spy agencies’ mass internet surveillance on the privacy of UK citizens.
The information commissioner’s technology reference panel will in particular look at the privacy concerns raised by the latest disclosures on the capacity of the US National Security Agency and Britain’s spy listening centre, GCHQ, to crack commercial encryption codes, including those used in online banking.
The latest disclosures revealed that the NSA is monitoring international banking and credit card transactions, including those undertaken through Visa. The NSA developed a database that held 180 million records in 2011, according to the German news magazine, Der Spiegel.
Graham revealed the development at an international conference of information commissioners in Berlin amid fresh calls from the European Commission for a single EU-wide privacy law to tackle intrusive surveillance and restore public trust in the digital economy.
The encryption and other technology issues raised by Snowden’s disclosures are to be looked at by the panel which was set up last year. It is made up of academic and industry experts. It is chaired by the commission’s policy adviser on technology, Simon Rice, and includes Dr Ian Brown of Oxford University’s cyber security centre and Trefor Davies, chief technology officer of Timico, a communications service provider.
A spokesman for the information commissioner’s office said: “The panel will be looking into the issues related to encryption, as well as other technology issues related to our work.” The experts will among other issues work with British app developers on systems that clearly define how personal data can be processed.
The ICO made clear that they will not looking at the wider security issues raised by Snowden’s disclosures which are being considered by the surveillance commissioner and the interception of communications commissioner.
Parliament’s intelligence and security committee is also looking into whether the current statutory framework governing access to private communications remains adequate in the light of the disclosures about the Prism and Tempora mass surveillance programmes.
The move follows a call earlier this week by the EU’s justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, said the recent spying revelations had taken their toll on public trust in the digital economy.
Alan Travis © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
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