Privacy and Data Protection

Companies Urged to Reassess Online Data Storage and Sharing
Asia Pacific

ZDNet Asia reports that businesses should examine their use of file-hosting sites to publish and share information online given the growing concerns regarding data security and legal protection. Symantec Singapore systems engineering manager Ronnie Ng reportedly cautioned that many file-sharing sites have security holes allowing unauthorised access to confidential data, and companies should instead use file transfer protocol along with encryption or password protection.

Mr Ng further reportedly warned companies to be careful when using cloud computing services, as standard data privacy policies might not be strong enough for the data involved. ZDNet Asia reports that Mr Ng recommends that companies train employees, appropriately classify information, clearly outline appropriate standards for data protection, and evaluate third-party service providers prior to using cloud computing.

Mr Ng reportedly opined that all online data sharing is susceptible to cyber threats, but conceded that simply instituting high security measures like restrictive firewalls will prevent companies from the advantages of cloud computing and similar services.
ZDNet Asia: Firms must relook what, how they share online (5 July 2011)
(Source: ZDNet Asia)

Privacy Scandal Envelopes Murdoch Media Empire
Europe, Middle East and Africa

 The New York Times (NYT) reports that News Corporation’s attempt to avoid a public relations disaster by closing its ill-reputed News of the World (NoW) publication has failed, with allegations of unethical behaviour spreading to other papers in the News Corporation group. Reportedly, in a motion supported by all major political parties, the British Parliament has called on News Corporation chairperson Rupert Murdoch, deputy chief James Murdoch and former NoW editor Rebecca Brooks to publicly testify in response to the allegations.
NYT: Lawmakers to Call Murdoch to Testify in Hacking Case (12 July 2011)

In related news, BBC News reports that both sides of parliament are likely to join forces again in a motion calling on News Corporation to withdraw its bid for satellite broadcaster BSkyB in the “public interest”. According to BBC News, the scandal has engulfed News Corporation’s takeover bid for the remaining 61% of BSkyB, prompting Media Secretary Jeremy Hunt to refer the matter to the Competition Commission to investigate whether it was in breach of anti-monopoly laws.
BBC News: News Corp’s BSkyB bid referred to regulator (11 July 2011)
BBC News: Phone hacking: Prime minister reveals inquiry powers (13 July 2011)

Related news items:
The Age: Newspaper goes, doubts live on (9 July 2011)
The Guardian: CSR’s importance is underlined by the NoW hacking scandal (12 July 2011)
The Independent: News International lied and prevaricated, say police chiefs (13 July 2011)
(Source: NYT; BBC News; The Age; The Guardian; The Independent)

Staying Compliant with the UK Data Protection Act
Europe, Middle East and Africa

Over the past year, Britain’s Information Commission Office (ICO) has been more vigorous in its pursuit of companies that violate the country’s Data Protection Act (DPA). Having been given expanded powers in April 2010, the ICO now has the ability to fine any data controller within its jurisdiction for breaches of personal data. In order for a violation to arise that warrants ICO intervention, an organization must meet two standards: first, the company must have violated one of the eight principles that make up the DPA, and second, the violation must cause substantial damage or distress. This standard can be met by a company deliberately violating the law or knowingly failing to take adequate steps to prevent the law from being broken. In order to protect themselves from these fines, companies must ensure that they follow all of their obligations under the DPA.
How to avoid regulatory action by the ICO (23 June 2011)
(Source: ComputerWeekly)

Companies Help Controversial Project
Asia Pacific

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that Cisco Systems is one of several Western companies preparing to help build a controversial surveillance project in Chongqing, which human rights advocates claim will stifle dissent. The Peaceful Chongqing  project will reportedly involve 500,000 video cameras, purportedly to prevent crime, but which could be used to impede political protests or identify detractors. Cisco Systems has reportedly stressed that it is not supplying equipment that could “facilitate repressive uses”, but its networking gear will be used and linked with a preexisting Cisco-backed information network.

While companies are reportedly aware of the possibility that their goods and services might be misused, they are also loath to miss out on a lucrative market. Intergraph security group head Bob Scott also reportedly declaimed responsibility, saying that buyers are responsible for meeting the laws and policies in force in a jurisdiction.
WSJ: Cisco Poised to Help China Keep an Eye on Its Citizens (5 July 2011)
(Source: WSJ)

Murdoch Newspaper to Close over Hacking Scandal
Europe, Middle East and Africa

News International has announced that it would be closing its heavily criticised newspaper, News of the World (NoW), following allegations that the paper had used a private investigator to hack a murdered teenager’s voicemail account.

In the statement, deputy chief operating officer James Murdoch acknowledged that NoW “[was] in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself”. Mr Murdoch acknowledged that the company had made misleading statements to parliament in blaming an individual journalist for the behaviour when it faced similar allegations in 2006. Mr Murdoch signalled that the company were co-operating with police investigations, intending to “get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing”.

Mr Murdoch announced that the final issue of NoW would be released on 10 July 2011, and that all proceeds would be donated to charity. Whilst the company may never be able to “make up for the distress that has been caused”, Mr Murdoch was convinced that these “strong measures … made humbly and out of respect” are “the right thing to do”.
News International’s media release (7 July 2011)

Related news items:
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ): Phone-Hacking Allegations Rattle News Corp. Tabloid (6 July 2011)
The Telegraph: Milly Dowler hacking: News International statement in full (6 July 2011)
The Telegraph: T-Mobile reviews News of the World advertising over Milly Dowler phone hacking claims (6 July 2011)
BBC News: News of the World to close amid hacking scandal (7 July 2011)
BBC News: Big questions for News International (7 July 2011)
The Guardian: Murdoch journalists stunned by paper’s closure (7 July 2011)
New York Times (NYT): Murdoch to Close Tabloid Amid Fury Over Hacking (7 July 2011)
(Source: News International; WSJ; The Telegraph; The Guardian; BBC News; NYT)