- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A government watchdog in the U.K. says police are consistently data-mining innocent civilians for personal gain and amusement.

Big Brother Watch, a nonprofit organization created in 2009, poured through Freedom of Information Act requests to gauge how often law enforcement officials were abusing access to digital information. Its conclusions were published in a July report titled “Safe in Police Hands?”

Some of the group’s findings include:

  • More than 800 U.K. police staff inappropriately accessed personal information between June 2011 and December 2015.
  • There were nearly 900 cases of data inappropriately given to third parties.
  • 1,283 cases resulted in no disciplinary action.
  • A Metropolitan Police officer tried to share a man’s driver’s license over Snapchat because he found the victim’s name humorous.
  • A New South Wales officer was dismissed for selling restricted information for “personal gain.”
  • A Dyfed Powys officer gave a USB device to a member of the public that was filled with emails and intelligence reports.

“The job of the police is to protect us and in a digital society that also means protecting our data. We need to be able to trust those in authority with our personal information, unfortunately that trust is being regularly undermined,” the report said.

Vice News reported Monday that such breaches of trust come as officials are pushing for access to Internet Connection Records (ICRs). Such lists would allow police to view all websites a civilian accessed on a personal device.

“Internet service providers will be forced to collect ICRs on all their customers if the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently making its way through the House of Lords, becomes law,” the website reported.

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