Tag Archives: regulations

NHS medical records handed to O2 to predict mental breakdowns – isn’t this against the law?

How many NHS record files have been handed over to a private firm by the Tories, in breach of Data Protection laws and the General Data Protection Regulations?

This looks like a huge data protection breach.

The Tory government, which runs the NHS in England, should have sought permission from patients before handing over their records to a commercial organisation – anonymised or not.

The fact that this information only became public knowledge via a Freedom of Information request makes it even worse because the Tories have been hiding what they have done.

Are you a patient of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust?

If so, I strongly suggest that you get together with other patients, find out if your information was handed over, and take legal action. Get in touch with Citizens Advice to find out how.

The telecoms giant O2 has been given access to a cache of NHS medical records to develop an algorithm aimed at predicting when mental health crises might occur.

Patients’ consent was not sought before Telefonica, the Spanish group that trades as O2 in the UK, was given free access to the trove of records from Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, according to documents, published last month under freedom of information laws.

The data includes five years’ of anonymised records belonging to current and former patients. In the document, the NHS trust said that “25,000 people experience a mental health crisis every year” in Birmingham and Solihull, suggesting that data on tens of thousands of patients could have been shared.

Source: NHS medical records given to telecoms group to predict mental breakdowns | News | The Sunday Times

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Barking fire blamed on cladding – and safety fears were downplayed. Grenfell Mk 2?

The conflagration in De Pass Gardens, Barking, was due to cladding breaking fire while safety concerns were ignored, it seems.

According to the Guardian‘s report (link below), it is believed the fire spread after someone lit a barbecue on a balcony.

The flames reached the wooden cladding that covered the building and, despite claims that it was flame-retardant and perfectly safe, spread across the whole building rapidly.

Apparently the sprinkler system did not work.

Concerns had been raised about possible fire safety problems in early May, after the BBC’s Watchdog programme had highlighted fire safety problems at a development by the same builder – Bellway Homes – in Scotland.

An email from Bellway Homes said the construction method in Barking was different and therefore the De Pass Gardens development would not be affected the same way.

But the company had hired a fire safety warden to patrol the building in order to address unspecified concerns.

It all seems highly reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower fire of almost exactly two years ago.

On June 14, 2017, fire ripped through the allegedly-flameproof cladding on Grenfell Tower, despite residents having been assured that it was safe. There was no sprinkler system.

That blaze killed 72 people.

The Conservative government of the day – almost exactly the same administration as the current Conservative government – promised that lessons would be learned (the old mantra) but here we are again.

It seems clear that building regulations are not robust enough to ensure the safety of tower block residents, their homes and their possessions.

I recall another Conservative government – that of David Cameron – promising a “bonfire of red tape”, scrapping regulaations on the basis that they were not necessary.

Is this the reason the people of Barking were endangered yesterday, their homes and possessions destroyed? If so, who will face prosecution for the threat against the residents’ lives?

Source: Barking fire: residents claim safety fears about flats were downplayed | UK news | The Guardian

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Labour has some great new rules for anti-Semitism investigations. What a shame they’re being abused

(Incidentally, this is the only definition of anti-Semitism anybody needs.)

For This Writer, Jon Lansman has more credibility when it comes to anti-Semitism than most of the bureaucrats running the Labour Party’s administrative system.

Mr Lansman, a gentleman of Jewish heritage, defended me when the anti-Semitism accusations against me were brought up – shamefully under ‘Any Other Business’ – at a meeting of Labour’s NEC.

He is not, therefore, a man who is easily-led into making knee-jerk reactions to unsubstantiated, wild claims.

When he wrote the following in The Guardian

Conflating legitimate criticism of Israel with antisemitism is dangerous and undermines the fight against antisemitism. Clear and detailed guidelines are essential to ensure that antisemitism isn’t tolerated, while protecting free speech on Israel’s conduct within a respectful and civil environment. This is what Labour’s code of conduct provides. We should be celebrating and replicating it.

– I believed him.

What a shame the Labour Party is already abusing the guidelines in its new code of conduct for investigating accusations of anti-Semitism.

This is why I need your help to fight these malicious, libellous, false claims. Please visit my JustGiving page to help.

For example, paragraph 12 of the new code of conduct states: “Article 1(2) of the 1948 UN Charter refers to “respect for the principle of equal rights and self determination of peoples”. The Party is clear that the Jewish people have the same right to self-determination as any other people. To deny that right is to treat the Jewish people unequally and is therefore a form of antisemitism. That does not, of course, preclude considered debate and discourse about the nature or content of the right of peoples to self determination.”

That seems fairly self-explanatory – but it is perverted to an unacceptable degree on Labour’s charge sheet claiming that I have committed anti-Semitic behaviour.

It quotes me as having stated: “JLM [the Jewish Labour Movement] is not a movement that represents Jews; it represents Jewish Zionists.” “The Jewish Labour Movement does not represent Jews who are not Zionists. It persecutes them.”

Then it says: “To state that the Labour Party’s official Jewish affiliate does not represent Jews denies Jews the right to self-define. This conduct is abhorrent, antisemitic and falls way below the standards expected of party members. This is clearly prejudicial and/or grossly detrimental to the party.” And this would be true, if the Jewish Labour Movement could be demonstrated to be representative of Jews, regardless of their views about Zionism. It cannot.

As I stated in the article quoted on the charge sheet: “Look at the organisation’s own website. It states:

““The Jewish Labour Movement is also affiliated to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation… Our objects: To maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”

““Zionist”… “Zionist”… “Zionism”… “within the state of Israel”.

“It seems clear that “Jewish Labour Movement” is a misnomer. It should be “Zionist Labour Movement”.”

What about Jews who aren’t Zionists, as the JLM defines them?

How do you think the members of Jewdas – attacked as the “wrong kind of Jew” after Jeremy Corbyn attended an event organised by the group – would describe the JLM?

Here’s how. Responding to attacks on Mr Corbyn for attending the event in late March, the Jewdas website stated: “What has happened over the last week is anything but an attempt to address antisemitism. It is the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party. It is a malicious ploy to remove the leader of the Opposition and put a stop to the possibility of a socialist government. The Board of Deputies, the (disgraced for corruption) Jewish Leadership Council and the (unelected, undemocratic) Jewish Labour Movement are playing a dangerous game with people’s lives.”

So these Jews consider the JLM to be unelected, undemocratic, and playing a dangerous game with people’s lives. Representative of Jews in general? No.

But I am under attack for making this point. Please visit my JustGiving site, if you haven’t already, and donate to my bid to take the liars to court.

What about Jewish Voice for Labour, which admits full membership only to Labour Party members who identify as Jewish – unlike the JLM, which allows full membership to non-Jews, and also to non-members of the Labour Party? This organisation has campaigned against what it sees as false accusations of anti-Semitism against notable figures like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, and Marc Wadsworth (as has This Writer), and also campaigns against the persecution of Palestinian people by the state of Israel.

And JLM members hate it. Responding to Harrow East Labour Party’s decision to affiliate to JVL, JLM chair Ivor Caplin told the Jewish Chronicle it was a “stupid decision” to affiliate with an “obsessive group that is often far too generous to antisemites and Holocaust revisionists”. But at least members of JVL are all Jewish, which is more than can be said for the JLM.

So let’s go back to that claim on my charge sheet about it being “abhorrent, anti-Semitic” and “denying Jews the right to self-define” of me to say that the JLM does not represent Jews [and let’s also remind ourselves that I never actually stated that the JLM didn’t represent Jews; I just made it clear that JLM doesn’t represent all Labour-supporting Jews]. How’s that claim looking?

Ropey.

And the claim that I am denying Jews the right to self-define?

Bogus. It is the JLM that denies Jews the right to self-define – by siding with those who describe other Labour-supporting Jewish organisations as the “wrong kind of Jews”.

I don’t know who wrote the charge against me, but they have taken the terms of Labour’s code of conduct and turned them inside out – using them for a purpose opposite to that for which it was written.

Source: Labour’s antisemitism code is the gold standard for political parties | Jon Lansman | Opinion | The Guardian

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Firefighters’ union will stand up for Grenfell victims, even if the inquiry won’t

Grief: Firefighters found it hard to keep themselves together as they dealt with the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. [Image: PA].

What a great announcement by the Fire Brigades Union – this has put the official inquiry on notice that it will not simply judge; it will also be judged.

Firefighters who were called to the Grenfell fire were deeply affected – emotionally – by what they found there. If anybody is likely to know whether corners were cut and regulations that should have been followed were ditched instead, they will. And they will make their point forcefully.

Perhaps one reason for this is the government’s treatment of firefighters themselves.

It isn’t very long since firefighters were staging strikes about Tory-imposed changes to their pension entitlements. The Conservatives unilaterally imposed a rise in the level of contributions firefighters must make to their pensions, meaning they would have less pay in their pockets, and they also raised the age of retirement from 55 to 60, meaning fewer firefighters are likely ever to receive a pension as many members may fail the fitness test required to remain on active duty, and would have to leave the service – without qualifying for a pension – as a result.

So firefighters have first-hand experience of being given a hosing by the Tories. It’s a joy to see they won’t stand by and let it happen to others.

The head of the Fire Brigades Union has described the Grenfell Tower disaster as a “crime” that should topple the government amid warnings over a boycott of the national inquiry.

FBU chief Matt Wrack said the tower block fire was a “national political scandal” and called for ministers to be hauled before the inquiry to answer questions about why regulations were cut.

The union will walk away from the official inquiry if it is seen by survivors and firefighters as a “pointless stitch up”, Mr Wrack warned.

Read more: Grenfell Tower fire is a ‘crime’ that should topple the government, says Fire Brigade Union chief


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A word of caution on the ‘Bedroom Tax exemption’ victory

bedroomtax

Campaigners in the UK have been celebrating after they found a little-known regulation that exempts many social housing tenants from the Bedroom Tax.

The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006 state (in not so many words) that, if you have been in receipt of Housing Benefit since before January 1, 1996, then you are exempt from the Bedroom Tax.

The relevant part is on pages 32 and 33 of the PDF file, and schedule 3 (4) (3) (b) (ii) states that a break of up to 4 weeks in the continuous period is allowed.

Many people have seen this as a considerable victory, as it may affect a large proportion of the 660,000 households hit by the spiteful tax. Everyone who has lost money because of it has been urged to check whether they can appeal on these grounds.

Some have noted, with sadness, that people who have died – like Stephanie Bottrill  – might still be with us if we had earlier knowledge of the regulation.

Now here’s the bad news: You have to have proof that you have been in receipt of HB since before January 1, 1996, or the authorities will ignore any exemption request.

Or, as a Vox Political commenter put it: “Just been on to HB as we should be free of this bedroom tax and they just told us we need proof of being here since this time scale which after all these years we don’t. And they said their records only go back six years. My God, they just won’t have it, will they? So stuck again as no proof as housing and DHSS don’t go back to 1/jan 1996.”

How many others are in the same situation?

Worse still, look at this comment from a DWP spokesman, published in the Morning Star‘s coverage of the story: “”We are aware of a potential regulatory issue in relation to pre-1996 social sector housing benefit tenants and the removal of the spare room subsidy,

“We are looking at this carefully and will take any necessary action to clarify our position as soon as possible.”

We all know what a DWP clarification is; it’s legislation to ensure that the regulation is removed – in order to ensure that the cock-up is erased from history and there continues to be no obstacle to Iain Duncan Smith’s plan for the impoverishment of the masses.

That’s what he tried with Workfare, after all – even if he couldn’t get it right.

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Is the algorithm method stopping my messages from multiplying?

facebook

What is going wrong with the social media giant Facebook?

By now, we all know that Facebook took it upon itself to target and attack bloggers – primarily with WordPress, as I understand it – who use the site to publicise their articles, last week. Vox Political was one of those sites.

The censorship took the form of an alert message that appeared on readers’ screens when they clicked through from Facebook to an article by the writers who had been targeted. This message stated: “Facebook thinks this site may be unsafe. If you’re not familiar with it, please provide feedback by marking it as spam (you’ll be brought back to Facebook).”

Anyone trying to ‘share’ a link with other Facebook users was subjected to the infamous and annoying ‘Captcha’ box – this is the time-consuming and difficult method of proving you are a human being by reading a series of letters or numbers, that have been stretched or bent on the screen in a way that we are told prevents automated ‘spam’ systems from understanding it, and then typing the sequence correctly into a box. This is off-putting as it takes time and effort, and many users may have decided not to bother.

All this took place around the time the House of Lords was voting on the regulations that will allow private firms to compete to run NHS services – the privatisation of the NHS; and it also coincided with bowel cancer sufferer Mark McGowan’s crawl from King’s College Hospital to 10 Downing Street, pushing a toy pig with his nose to highlight his view that the privatisation marked out the Conservative-led government as pigs with their snouts in the money trough.

I can’t comment on how this affected anybody else, but my own site certainly suffered as a result, and I complained to Facebook about this treatment, pointing out that the alert message clearly lowered me in the estimation of right-thinking members of the public generally, and caused me to be shunned and avoided – fulfilling not just one but two criteria necessary for an act to constitute defamation – otherwise known as libel.

The problem appeared to resolve itself just before the weekend. Facebook said that it was all a mistake, made by its automated spam-filter algorithms. It seems that WordPress sites all over the world were affected, and there was discussion of it on the WordPress user forums, ending with a post from a staff member saying that “the problem seems to have been fixed on Facebook‘s end on or around April 26th.”

And that should have been the end of it, right?

Well… were these automated systems malfunctioning again on Sunday and Monday? That would seem very strange behaviour, so soon after an initial ‘mistake’ that was so widely discovered, reported and discussed.

Still, I posted an article yesterday and, when I checked this morning, found that – according to Facebook statistics – it had reached a total of 16 people. The previous article, a link to a reblog that I also posted yesterday, had amassed more than 1,700 readers (according to the stats). The article before that – more than 2,000.

That was seriously odd, I thought. Nobody loses 2,000 readers in a day.

Still, I had another article to promote, so I posted the link to “Tory department of dirty deeds swings into pre-election action”. Half an hour later – by which time I would normally have expected to see a ‘total reach’ in the hundreds, that number had stalled on two.

That’s right – two.

“Yes,” said one of my readers in response to a (Facebook) status report asking what the devil was going on, “the government is putting pressure on Facebook to delete some posts and groups which contain political themes, and to slow the process of certain posts being sent for others to see.  Guess Cameron is feeling the heat.”

Conspiracy-theory nonsense? Or a rational response to the evidence? I thought about this for a while. Then I decided to put it to the test.

If Facebook is using spam-filtering algorithms to censor certain messages, then it must be programmed to detect particular words, or combinations of words, I reasoned. Maybe my use of “Tory” alongside “dirty deeds” was what got the article kicked into touch?

So what would happen if I posted a link to the very same article, but this time with an innocuous – if unlikely – headline such as “Peace and harmony breaks out between the British political parties”?

I’ll tell you what happened: ‘Total reach’ of 542 people within half an hour – that’s what! More than the original link – to the same article – had achieved all day. More than it has achieved as I type this, in fact.

Maybe I’m being paranoid – Johnny Void thinks so; he’s been trying to convince me that this really was an innocent glitch, and I’d like to believe him.

But I also want some solid answers. Wouldn’t you?

I’ve written to Facebook; let’s see what happens.

And, while we’re waiting, I might create a new page on Facebook: BASTARDS for CONSERVATISM! The description will read: “We may be illegitimate, but we know our own when we see them!”

That ought to confuse this dodgy algorithm!

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