Real Dangers of Dissent
Posted by Jeff Id on March 19, 2013
Well folks, some of you were wondering why nobody touched the publication of that CG3 password, I have been contacted by a UEA law firm regarding the recently released Climategate password. Some even asked for FOIA to come clean as to their identity. I have pointed out repeatedly that an angry activist lawyer can make a mess out of any law, and the UEA has plenty of them. When the police came out with the statement that the statute of limitations had run out, I pointed out that each release could be considered separately by any lawyer.
Anyone with access to the recent password must be exceedingly careful in its use. These emails were not released publicly by someone else so legally they are hot potatoes. The UEA law firm did attach the standard “this email is confidential” bullcrap on the bottom, but it seems more prudent to head off any problems with a public release so I choose to ignore it. A lot of bloggers received the password so I doubt very much it will stay private for long. It won’t be here that it comes out.
We understand from a blog post made by you on 12 March 2013 that you have either
received an unsolicited email from someone going by the name of ‘Mr FOIA’ or that this has
been forwarded to you. The email from Mr FOIA provides a password to access a
substantial number of documents. It is our understanding from the blog postings which we
have seen that the password does work and that the information can be accessed. We do
not know what information has been made available in this way but have a very real concern
that it may include ‘personal data’. This is data which, under the Data Protection Act 1998,
might enable the identification of a living individual and which is strictly regulated under the
provisions of the Act. Unlike previous releases, and from what we understand from the
publication of Mr FOIA’s email, the information appears to have been left entirely unredacted
or filtered in any way.
The information contained in these document is likely to have been illegally obtained from
the University’s servers in October 2009. The on-going dissemination of any ‘personal data’
obtained in this way would amount to a further criminal offence. Given that the sharing of
the password would enable any third party to access any of the documents there is a very
real danger that personal data will be disclosed in breach of the Data Protection Act.
The University has no desire to stifle debate around climate change but the University must
take steps where information has been obtained illegally and to protect employees and
students at the University as well as third parties from unnecessary harm arising from the
unregulated and widespread disclosure of personal data.
Accordingly, please confirm by return:
That you will not publish the password with which you have been provided nor the
information it protects
That you will forward a copy of this notice to any person to whom you have supplied
That you will not publish any ‘personal data’.
If you are in doubt about what is meant by ‘personal data’ then please follow the attached
link to the Data Protection Act. Please note in particular the provisions of section 17, 21 and
Interestingly, “personal data includes” one’s political opinions among other things.
In this Act “sensitive personal data” means personal data consisting of information as to—
(a)the racial or ethnic origin of the data subject,
(b)his political opinions,
(c)his religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature,
(d)whether he is a member of a trade union (within the meaning of the M1Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992),
(e)his physical or mental health or condition,
(f)his sexual life,
(g)the commission or alleged commission by him of any offence, or
(h)any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by him, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings.
I recommend extreme care in release of any of these emails. To date I have only re-published emails from CG1 and CG2, there is a reason for that.