Friday, 31 March 2017

Karen Bradley's Internet History

You may be asking why this is relevant, please allow an exposition...
A few years back in the wake of the 'Snooper's Charter' I put out a Freedom of Information request to get then Home Secretary's 'internet history' including internet telephony, browsing data and email meta data. This was knocked back as being too all encompassing. So I sent out another FOI for just the browsing data, and this was knocked back as being "a fishing trip" and "vexatious", which could be described as hypocritical, but was kind of accurate, I was trolling.
That Home Secretary then became Prime Minister, and a new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd was promoted, so I sent a new FOI, this time, I was less trollish, and requested the browser history for just one day to "gain a feel for the sort of websites that the Home Secretary visits during their day to day work".
Despite confirming that "the Home Office holds the information that you have requested" this request was knocked back because the browsing history was "personal information". This could be seen as progress from the Home Office, an awareness of people's concerns about privacy.
Still, Internet Service Providers have to keep their customer's "Internet History". You may be wondering in the context of Cabinet ministers, who their ISPs are. I wondered this too, and after the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested that ISPs could monitor bad language or something on the internet, I put in a FOI to find out who the Health Secretary's ISPs were.
As a private citizen he could have any ISP but for government work, the Department for Health is it's own ISP, and hosts a Departmental secured network.
So, the other month, it was announced that Karen Bradley, Culture Secretary, would be leading the government's Digital Strategy. To what extent does Karen Bradley understand and use the internet?
Her own MP website is out of date, saying that she is still a Home Office Minister, despite moving to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in July last year, and her twitter feed is just supermarket opening and schoolkids smiling, rather an a genuine attempt to engage with people. I put in a FOI for her browser data for the day before the news about her Digital Strategy role.
The response was:-
I can confirm the Department does not hold any information in scope of your request.
Does that mean the Department doesn't have a Departmental network, or it does and it doesn't keep Internet History Records, or that Karen Bradley didn't use the Departmental History that day?