Facebook, Google and the little people… Paul Bernal

11 07 2014

Facebook logo reflected in eyeigooglemagesThe last week has emphasised the sheer power and influence of the internet giants – Facebook and Google in particular. Read the rest of this entry »

Are Google intentionally overreacting to the Right to be Forgotten? – Paul Bernal

4 07 2014

s560x316_Right_to_be_forgottenIn one of my original reactions to the Google Spain ruling on the Right to be Forgotten, which I wrote for The Justice Gap, I said that Google’s response to the ruling was going to be very interesting: Read the rest of this entry »

Book: Internet Privacy Rights: Rights to Protect Autonomy – Paul Bernal

5 04 2014

Internet Privacy RightsMy first book, Internet Privacy Rights – Rights to Protect Autonomy – has just been published, in the Cambridge University Press series ‘Cambridge Intellectual Property and Information Law’. It is an academic book, and written from the perspective of a legal academic, but it is intended as something that contributes to a debate far beyond the ivory towers of academe, and in fields beyond that of law. It is also written, I hope, in a form that should make it accessible to people other than academics, and in particular other than lawyers. Read the rest of this entry »

Privacy isn’t selfish … Paul Bernal

31 01 2014

privacyThe importance of privacy is often downplayed. It sometimes seems as though privacy is viewed as something bad, something inherently selfish, something that ‘good’ people don’t need or really want – or at the very least are willing to sacrifice for the greater good. To me, that displays a fundamental misunderstanding of privacy and of the role it plays in society. Read the rest of this entry »

Surveillance, huh? What is it good for? – Paul Bernal

19 01 2014

gchqEvidence seems to be mounting that mass surveillance isn’t actually very good at dealing with terrorism. Hot on the heels of the admission by the NSA that their mass surveillance of telephone call data had only been helpful in a single terrorism-related case, a detailed new report by the New America Foundation seems to suggest that their other surveillance programmes, including the PRISM programme, are also conspicuously ineffective. Read the rest of this entry »

Clare’s Law: a simple solution, or more confusion? – Paul Bernal

2 12 2013

Clare WoodThe news that ‘Clare’s Law’, by which according to the BBC ‘enables women to check the police record of a new boyfriend’ will be expanded to cover the whole of England and Wales fills me with unease. On the surface it seems to offer a simple tool in the fight against what is a truly horrendous problem – but I find myself wondering whether the process and the implications of this law have been properly thought through. Read the rest of this entry »

Protest and survive? – Paul Bernal

10 11 2013

Million mask marchThe latest in a long line of assaults on our right to protest seems to be on its way with the planned replacement of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) with ‘Ipnas’: Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance. Former DPP Lord Macdonald QC described the new powers as amounting to ‘gross state interference’ with basic freedoms - and it’s hard to argue with him, given the almost breathtaking scope of the powers. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Individual privacy vs collective security’? NO! – Paul Bernal

20 10 2013

gchq1As reported in the BBC, “Parliament’s intelligence watchdog is to hear evidence from the public as part of a widening of its inquiry into UK spy agencies’ intercept activities.”  Whilst in many ways this is to be welcomed, the piece includes a somewhat alarming but extremely revealing statement from Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee:

Read the rest of this entry »

If privacy is dead, we need to resurrect it! – Paul Bernal

10 09 2013

Privacy is DeadBack in 1999, Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems, told journalists that privacy was dead. “You have zero privacy anyway,” he said, “Get over it.”

In internet terms, 1999 was a very long time ago. It was before Facebook even existed. Before the iPhone was even a glint in Steve Jobs’ eye. Google was barely a year old. And yet even then, serious people in the computer industry had already given up on privacy. Read the rest of this entry »

Free speech … what’s the point? – Paul Bernal

21 04 2013

Free Speech BanThe whole idea of ‘free speech’ has had a few challenges this last week or so. The Paris Brown saga (about which I’ve written here), the decision by the BBC not to play ‘Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead’ though it reached number two in the charts, the various attempts to block protests at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, the late amendments to the Defamation Act to remove the proposed controls over companies’ abilities to sue for libel, and the arrival in court of the Sally Bercow/Lord McAlpine twitter defamation trial about which I wrote this in December). Read the rest of this entry »


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