APPG Newsletter on Data Analytics November 2017 
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Wednesday 8th November 2017

Data Analytics News...

APPGDA Cyber Security Event
On the 16th of October the All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics hosted the panel discussion ‘After the Parliament Hack: How Safe Is Britain's Data?’. The event featured a high profile panel of policy makers, parliamentarians and commercial cyber security experts:
  • Daniel Zeichner MP: Member of Parliament for Cambridge and Chair of the All Party Group on Data Analytics
  • Baroness Neville-Jones: Former Minister of State for Security and Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee
  • Nick Coleman: Head of Cyber Security Intelligence, IBM
  • Daniel Thornton: Programme Director, Institute for Government
For those of you who could not attend the event on the day and as a reminder for those who were there, we have compiled an event summary, outlining the areas of discussion and highlighting key findings. The event summary can be downloaded here or accessed on our website:

NHS After Cry
A report by the National Audit Office suggests that the ‘Wanna Cry’ attack on the NHS in May 2017 might have been more severe than initially known. The report also reveals that the NHS has been made aware of its vulnerability to such an attack ahead of time.NHS digital had issued warnings as early as 2014 and urged IT departments to upgrade their cyber security. The attack, which impacted about one third of NHS trusts, could therefore have been prevented, if the necessary measures had been taken. This view was mirrored by the panel of our cyber security event, which concurred that responsibility for the success of ‘Wanna Cry’ was shared by the NHS and Microsoft, which failed to upgrade its old operating systems.
Inter-state cyber security
Yet, it is worth bearing in mind that cyber security is by no means confined to public organisations under significant budgetary restraints, but an affliction common to many organisations. Reuters News Agency first broke the news that the US agency NSA suffered a substantial breach of its security framework. This is only the latest in a string of breaches of the agencies security, the most famous of which were the revelations by Edward Snowden. This latest breach does take on another dimension, as Bloomberg alleges that Russian hackers are behind the data theft from a private contractor.

In a very similar story in a very different part of the world, it was also revealed that non-classified data, including plans about Australia’s Joint Strike Fighter Programme were stolen from a defence contractor. Although unconfirmed, Australian officials suggest that given ‘the slow, methodological approach’ to the hack, they suspect a state actor behind the attack. Mitchell Clarke, the incident spokesperson revealed that the contractor in question was ‘four levels down’ from defence contracts.The two breaches have several shared features which suggest a new underlying pattern to these attacks: Both are presumed to be state sponsored rather than for private commercial gain and both times the attackers chose, wisely given the success of the attacks, to target contractors with weaker cybersecurity procedures than the actual defence contractors. To varying degrees, human negligence or error also played a role.

The frequency and severity of recent incidents of attacks on UK institutions such as parliament and the NHS led Jeremy Fleming, Head of GCHQ, to issue a warning that the cyber security threat with which Britain is faced is ‘as serious as terrorism’. Fleming highlighted that, in the last year alone, 590 serious cyber-attacks, necessitating a ‘national response’ had occurred. Many of these, like the highly publicized attack on Parliamentary email accounts on the 23rd of June this year, are directly or indirectly linked to foreign governments, in this instance Iran. Yet, insiders such as the BBC correspondent Gordon Corera have urged caution, as the information does not appear to have been used and the motive thus remains unclear. Speculation abounded that it might have been an attempt to sabotage the nuclear agreement from a hawkish fraction within the Iranian government. EU governments are looking to cooperate more closely than is currently the case to face off these cyber-attacks. In a joint statement, they declare that cyber-attacks can be regarded as acts of war.

Our Blog...

Comparethemarket made the latest contribution to our Data Analytics blog, with an entry highlighting issues around digital identity and data fraud. The blog entry draws attention to the sharp increase of cases of data fraud and explores possible solutions to this conundrum. The blog can be read here:

In Parliament...

  • The House of Commons sat on Monday the 23rd of October for the second reading of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill. For a detailed briefing on the key content of the Bill, follow this link. The debate focused on means to expanding the electric charging network for electric vehicles and clarifying the legal liability for damages caused by automated vehicles.
  • The House of Lords Select Committee for Artificial Intelligence held the third round of evidence sessions on Tuesday the 24th of October. The sessions focussed on the necessary conditions for a successful research environment.
  • The government released a statement pledging to speed up the improvement plans for digital infrastructure in Wales. Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock said in the statement: ‘

Our Research...

At the APGDA, we always strive to keep you informed on all things data. In this spirit, we have introduced this new segment to our newsletter, highlighting our latest research on topical issues:

  • Facial recognition software- Privacy rights and technological progress facing off?
This briefing focusses the background to this technology, highlighting important milestones in the technology’s evolution since its theoretical conception in the 1950’s. The briefing also showcases recent technological leaps in this area and provides a rudimentary outline of the legal framework governing the use of the technology.    

Research Briefing- Facial recognition software
  • Data Protection after Brexit

At first glance, the issues of data protection and leaving the European Union are only loosely connected to one another. However, the design, extent and provisions of the British data protection framework will have profound implications for the nature of EU-UK trade relations post Brexit.

Data Protection after Brexit-Briefing

The news in brief...

Digital influencers in elections- Advertising trumps Hillary
It transpired this week that the Trump election campaign was much more closely aligned with and partially embedded into Facebook than previously assumed. The digital director of the trump campaign recently gave a 60 minute interview to the American news station CBS, in which he revealed details about the digital campaigning strategy and underlying practices, such as micro targeting of voters. According to the Washington Post, Facebook even went as far as sending what in the Soviet Union was termed ‘politically reliable elements’ directly to the Trump campaign offices to instruct staff there. For details on online campaigning and related jargon, find our research briefing here.
  • Barclays holds cyber security skills competition to highlight digital skills gap and to spot talent early
  • Ireland refers crucial ruling on legality of data transfer to the US to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. The referral is the result of a legal challenge by Max Schrems.
  • The data transfer agreement which was initially challenged in Irish courts is also celebrating its one year anniversary. The so-called Privacy Shield came into force after its predecessor, Safe Harbour was struck down by the courts. The one year review by the EU said the agreement is working but needs refinement.
  • Consumer organisation Which? wants government to allow third party organisations to seek legal redress for data breaches on behalf of others
  • Businesses announce their intention to  retrain over 1 million employees in the digital sector in the next 5 years. This comes amidst a push to utilize technological innovations better.
  • Minister for Digital Matt Hancock gave a speech to the Association of British Insurers on the role of insurance in the digital age. Full speech available here.

Upcoming Events...

For a full overview of our upcoming events, browse our events page:


Dr. George Dibb, Head of Industry, Technology and Innovation (ITI)
Dr. Benjamin Klos, Senior Researcher Data Analytics and Energy Safety


All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics
Policy Connect
CAN Mezzanine
32-36 Loman Street

020 7202 8586

The APGDA is very grateful for the support of its members:

Institute for Environmental Analytics


Open Data Institute



Essex County Council 

Data for Policy

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