BNC Text HE7

Panorama: documentary. Sample containing about 6240 words speech recorded in leisure context

11 speakers recorded by respondent number C356

PS2TW Ag2 m (christopher hird, age 30+, tv presenter) unspecified
PS2TX Ag2 m (Robert, age 30+, information hacker / private investigator) unspecified
PS2TY Ag2 m (No name, age 30+, bbc interviewer) unspecified
PS2U0 Ag4 m (Rodney, age 50+, trade union leader) unspecified
PS2U1 Ag4 m (No name, age 50+, banking expert) unspecified
PS2U2 Ag3 m (No name, age 40+, bank representative) unspecified
PS2U3 Ag3 m (No name, age 40+, legal expert) unspecified
PS2U4 Ag1 f (naomi march, age 20+, actress) unspecified
PS2U5 Ag2 m (lenny henry, age 30+, comedian/actor) unspecified
HE7PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
HE7PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 102701 recorded on 1993-10-25. LocationLondon: Bbc1 ( Television broadcast ) Activity: Documentary Narrative and interviews

Undivided text

christopher hird (PS2TW) [1] John former associate of the Krays, we were offered details of his criminal record for four hundred pounds.
[2] Rodney , general secretary of Britain's largest trades union, secrets of his credit card and bank account are on sale for two hundred pounds.
[3] Sarah , someone who jealously guards her privacy, we bought some of her secrets too, and everyone's personal details can be bought.
[4] Tonight Panorama asks, how save are your secrets?
[5] [music] Personal information about us, once typed on record cards or stuffed into filing cabinets is now kept on computer, information which once even the bank manager or doctor couldn't find is now accessible to thousands through a computer keyboard, and everyday this information is routinely sold, to employers investigating potential and current employees, to companies investigating competitors and customers, and to anyone willing to pay in a trade which grows, uncontrolled, daily.
[6] ... Literally dozens of companies in Britain deal in personal data.
[7] Earlier this year one of them approached us.
[8] Robert said he could reveal the secrets of people's credit card and bank accounts, health and criminal records, national insurance and tax details, and ex-directory telephone numbers.
[9] So we decided to test these claims.
[10] Nowadays there's an enormous amount of information about us kept in computers, and there are laws which certainly sound as though they should stop it falling into unauthorized hands.
[11] Despite this there is a growing market in the sale of personal data, as companies and employers try to find out the details of our personal lives.
[12] But how do they do it?
[13] To find out four people all well known in their fields agreed to let us find the details of their financial, health, police, and other records.
[14] The results of our investigation are deeply disturbing, no individual in the country can be sure that their secrets are safe, banks and other data holders seem powerless to stop the growth in this trade and the Government is unwilling to crack down on it.
[15] ... We started our investigation by asking Robert to come and see us, we prepared for his visit by hiding a camera in this umbrella, which lay on top of a brief case.
(PS2TY) [16] Financial superstore.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [17] Settled down with a cup of tea Robert explained how easy it was to roam the databases of Britain collecting details of people's private lives.
[18] There's not a great deal of danger of detection is there? [...]
Robert (PS2TX) [19] No, no there's not I mean I've been doing this for fifteen years, and quite simply is, if you like, I've been up the ladder, the contacts that were I've had were relatively junior fifteen years ago
(PS2TY) [20] Yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [21] are reasonably senior, and the great thing is once they do you one favour that's it, and it's better because rather than have, for example a junior police officer, who has no idea of covering his tracks
(PS2TY) [22] Mm, mm.
Robert (PS2TX) [23] the people that I deal with are are D T Is and stuff like that
(PS2TY) [24] Yeah, yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [25] and they make sure they every time they do something like this there pension's on the line, there job's on the line
(PS2TY) [26] Quite, quite.
Robert (PS2TX) [27] they make sure that they cover their tracks completely
(PS2TY) [28] None of their [...] yeah, yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [29] absolutely no chance of detection.
(PS2TY) [30] Right, right.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [31] We told that we had to do some preliminary research for possible television programmes.
Rodney (PS2U0) [32] He said that he who gives a service is worthy of his hire [...]
christopher hird (PS2TW) [33] One of the subjects of our investigation was high profile leader of the low paid, Rodney , head of the trades union UNISON
Rodney (PS2U0) [34] you won't move over and let a labour government introduce a national minimum wage.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [35] His salary is a matter of public record, but we wanted to discover the truth about his bank account.
(PS2TY) [36] We are interested in, you know, in his finances
Robert (PS2TX) [37] Mhm.
(PS2TY) [38] and how much he has in the bank, you know, how he stands with his credit card, so on and so forth.
[39] Erm we don't know where he banks, but we do know his home address.
Robert (PS2TX) [40] That's alright .
(PS2TY) [41] Erm so I just, that's the first, I mean, how easy is this going to be do you think, and ...
Robert (PS2TX) [42] Reasonably easy, and reasonably inexpensive.
[43] To pick up his bank and credit card details and to check them out, assuming we've got a current address,
(PS2TY) [44] Yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [45] erm we're talking under two hundred pounds.
(PS2TY) [46] Right, okay.
[47] And so how long does it take?
Robert (PS2TX) [48] Anywhere between three and five days.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [49] And indeed, within the week was on the phone with the details of 's bank balance.
[50] A few days later he came to the office to give his report in person.
Robert (PS2TX) [51] Right that one.
(PS2TY) [52] This lot, I say it's amazing isn't it?
Robert (PS2TX) [53] These are all balances as at ... what day was yesterday?
[54] Either Wednesday evening.
(PS2TY) [55] He's just got one account at Midland has he?
Robert (PS2TX) [56] Yep.
(PS2TY) [57] Yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [58] This is a copy of the letter they sent, if you'd like to look at it in your own time and tell whether the information in it is correct.
Rodney (PS2U0) [59] Bank correct, sort code I wouldn't know I assume it is, balance is er correct, er the cards, erm I mean the information's correct apart from er saying it's a Barclay Card but in principle yeah I mean all that is correct.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [60] Seeing it there, the n the y name of your bank, the fact that amount that's in the account, the the er gon details of your credit card, what's your response to that?
Rodney (PS2U0) [61] I am just appalled that it's so easy, obviously, to get into these er accounts and and the health records as well, er I mean there really bright here, Mr has no criminal record, I don't know where they went for that, it's true, it's nice to have it er made public but er where did they go to to get that information?
[62] Police records?
[63] Erm er it's er it's obviously annoying for me personally, er but the worst thing about it is that it can be done at the drop of a hat, you say, I want information on X. and they say, Yes we can provide.
[64] And they do provide, er er h I mean I know we want an open society, but that's ridiculous.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [65] 's bank in Catford was just one of 's targets, we do not know exactly how he managed to penetrate their security, but he was undoubtedly helped by the fact that his main business is debt collecting, and he numbers most of the big banks among his clients.
[66] This gives him an unrivalled knowledge of the way in which banks operate, and contacts inside them.
Robert (PS2TX) [67] I mean it's, a case of, er if you like a back scratching exercise, I've got one contact down bank, which for no real upfront money or anything else
(PS2TY) [68] Mm.
Robert (PS2TX) [69] I've helped develop his department into the best collections department in Britain, as far as the the banks are concerned
(PS2TY) [70] Yeah, in terms of the response rate
Robert (PS2TX) [71] yeah
(PS2TY) [72] that he gets yeah, yeah .
Robert (PS2TX) [73] He's got he's got an excellent department, and he's kept it within the bank's old fashioned, nineteenth century guidelines.
(PS2TY) [74] Yeah, yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [75] And I mean the everybody, everybody in the debt collection industry talks of this department.
[76] I've done it for a number of smaller companies and charged a fortune for it
(PS2TY) [77] Yeah, yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [78] But this guy I haven't cos this guy can get me a great deal of information
(PS2TY) [79] Yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [80] and also supplies me a great deal of work.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [81] This back scratching may include taking data directly from the banks computer, but more often it provides details of the bank's systems, which makes it easier for the enquiry agent to embark on the well timed impersonation.
(PS2U1) [82] The best time of day would be between twelve noon and three thirty or four o'clock, this is a time when the manager is generally out having one of [laughing] his long [] lunches, er the assistant manager would probably return to the bank about round about two, two thirty, and the situation in the bank er between these times would be that there would be only a handful of staff, usually junior staff on duty who are more susceptible to passing information than the senior staff.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [83] And it's not just a problem for the bank's branches, it's a similar one for the credit card companies at Southend.
[84] They know about the unauthorized release of personal data, they have procedures to try and protect data, but there is a commercial imperative to keep customers happy when they have a problem with their credit card.
(PS2U2) [85] What you do not want to be told is erm sorry you've got to come down in person to our offices, they're in Southend by the way, erm please bring along your passport certificate, D N A chart, and chit signed by erm the spiritual leaders of at least three merger major world religions.
[86] What you want is to be able to answer a few sensible questions uniquely identifying you, the trouble is there's probably a repertoire of only ten of those questions, you're going to get asked three or four of them, but those questions, your date of birth, your telephone number, the er address of your bank and so on and so forth, if you're a private detective you can get those, you can have them on a sheet of paper and you can pretend to be whoever you like.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [87] Incredibly, impersonation of this sort to get hold of data is not a criminal offense, in this country there is no law as such which makes it illegal to steal information, and the main piece of legislation, the Data Protection Act contains a massive loophole, it only applies to the holders of information not to third parties trying to get their hands on it.
[88] Under the act the holder of information has to disclose the type of information they hold, where they've got it from, and who they intend to disclose it to.
[89] This is the entry for one of the big banks, they're entitled to disclose information to a whole host of organizations, like debt collecting companies, credit reference agencies, private detectives, and so on.
[90] A disclosure of data under the act is only unauthorized if they knowingly give it to someone who is not entitled to it.
(PS2U1) [91] There's not a lot the act can do in terms for example of prosecuting people who use deception, it may just be possible I've been advised, but it's extremely difficult from an evidential and other point of view to do that.
[92] The act really sets out to control the computer users who have information on all of us, or on individuals generally, and their servants or agents, their employees and so on, it doesn't set out to control these third parties.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [93] The computer misuses act sounds like another law which might help, it's enforced at this police unit in London, but it too seems powerless to stop outsiders impersonating or bribing their way to get hold of personal data.
(PS2U2) [94] The computer misuse act is aimed at criminal activity, it was primarily aimed at people who either hack into other computers or misuse the computers that are in front of them.
[95] It did not aim for the situation that we've been discussing, where people are trying to get the information.
[96] Now because of course we now have more computers in society than we ever did before, and we don't have lots of paper files before us inevi invariably, the information is being held upon the computer.
[97] So we ourselves as members of the public erm we don't have the formal protection in law, probably, that we should have.
(PS2U3) [98] It is aimed either at the external hacker of which there are far fewer than press reports suggest or at the employee who though they have legitimate access legitimate lim limited access to a computer, nevertheless go beyond that authorization, but in order for the act to be successful, in order to get a successful prosecution, the prosecution have got to show that the access was unauthorized, and in the absence of clear codes of conduct, clear on-screen messages, that can be quite tricky.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [99] So, there is no the two acts that people might think have some roll in stopping this do not
(PS2U3) [100] Do not actually provide the protection that people think.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [101] So is there any sort of protection in the law?
(PS2U3) [102] No.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [103] Banks don't like to admit that there employees let secrets escape from their computers, which is possibly why none of the individual banks were willing to appear in this programme.
[104] Privately they know it happens.
[105] But it's not just financial details which are for sale, you can buy virtually anyone's employment details, as we found out.
naomi march (PS2U4) [106] Bing bong.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [107] Darling, I'm home.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [108] Naomi is an actor, known for her part in the Lenny Henry show.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [109] [clears throat] Have a nice day at the office, dear. [laugh]
naomi march (PS2U4) [110] Hello parks and gardens yeah, I'd like to report a missing flower bed.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [111] Claudette.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [112] Like many in her profession, her work is intermittent, and with her permission, in August we asked Robert to try to get hold of her employment details.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [113] Saying it with flowers.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [114] quickly obliged.
[115] He told us that, at the time was unemployed, and within a few days he even gave the date and place where she signed on for unemployment benefit.
naomi march (PS2U4) [116] I don't know when when you got this, at that time it was correct that I was no longer working, that I'd finished working ... for as it says here er Bill theatrical company on the fourth of September.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [117] That's correct then is it ?
naomi march (PS2U4) [118] That's absolutely correct, yes.
[119] Er as is my tax reference number and my [laughing] national insurance number [] .
christopher hird (PS2TW) [120] Both of those numbers are correct?
naomi march (PS2U4) [121] Absolutely correct.
[122] God ... erm
christopher hird (PS2TW) [123] Now subsequent to erm us getting that letter, they told us that you er you'd signed on.
[124] Is that correct?
naomi march (PS2U4) [125] Yes. [sniff]
christopher hird (PS2TW) [126] They told us within three days of your signing on.
naomi march (PS2U4) [127] My Go what within three days?
[128] ... They what they knew after I'd had my fresh claim interview or something like that?
christopher hird (PS2TW) [129] Mm.
naomi march (PS2U4) [130] But how it's so sh how?
Robert (PS2TX) [131] Basically what happens when you start signing on is you go into a national unemployment computer, and that national unemployment computer will pick up, as long as you've got the date of birth and the national insurance number, you can pick up when a person started signing o and where they're signing, you then check with the local office to see what address they're claiming from and what their claiming for and everything else.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [132] also managed to gain access to yet another computer, he got her ex-directory telephone number.
[133] Worrying for her, and the twenty percent of the population who are ex-directory.
[134] Like many people, some years ago was troubled by nuisance telephone calls.
naomi march (PS2U4) [135] Everybody gets phone calls like that, unfortunately occasionally, but it kind of I went through a phase of it happening to me so I therefore had to change my phone number because it was er it was really unpleasant being woken er up by these calls.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [136] And how long has that particular number been your ex-directory number?
naomi march (PS2U4) [137] Er probably about three years, and I've had no dodgy calls.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [138] There are private inquiry agents who offer the service of getting hold of people's ex-directory telephone numbers.
[139] How are they able to do that?
Unknown speaker (HE7PSUNK) [140] Right, erm that's something that I don't really think I should erm reply to even though we are aware of the situation and are taking steps to identify the problem and put a stop to it.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [141] But it is something that you recognize as a problem?
Unknown speaker (HE7PSUNK) [142] Oh yes, yes, obviously we need to keep our data secure.
naomi march (PS2U4) [143] Well it's a threat to your personal safety.
[144] Absolutely, I mean I feel more so about my phone number and address, my phone number particularly erm you know money's money and so what, but when it's when it's your personal safety I think I think it's appalling.
Unknown speaker (HE7PSUNK) [145] The an ex-directory number is available to lots of other people, erm you if you were ex-directory yourself would give your ex- directory number to friends, family, maybe work colleagues, maybe er er you might fill in forms, mailshots and you may put your phone number down on that, salesmen.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [146] So you think that the number of instances where it's your s your security that fails are really relatively small when people get hold of ex-directory numbers.
Unknown speaker (HE7PSUNK) [147] Yes I do, I think it's very tightly controlled within B T.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [148] Do you think it's at all possible that anybody who has this number, like presumably your agent has it or friends have it, is it at all possible anyone would have given it out to somebody?
naomi march (PS2U4) [149] No because everybody who has it is aware of the fact that you know they've se known that I've changed my number before and they know why.
Unknown speaker (HE7PSUNK) [150] If a B T employee did disclose information against all their training and against the rules that we've got in place in B T, then we would obviously take that very seriously indeed and erm dismissal would no doubt follow if it was found that th the person had disclosed information.
Robert (PS2TX) [151] We've got the [...] see if you can get us this number, and nine times out of ten he comes back and says here it is, and on the tenth occasion he'll come back and say, Too risky.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [152] The risk which a B T employee runs for unauthorized disclosure is a criminal prosecution.
[153] The same sanction is also meant to protect criminal records in the police national computer, but even here it's not a sufficient deterrent.
[154] Is this sort of out of the question, or
Robert (PS2TX) [155] No, we can pick up on a a criminal record if he's got it.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [156] Right ... I mean I don't want to sort of pry into how [laughing] you do your business [...] [] that the in the the getting of that information that's that is relatively straightforward, is it?
Robert (PS2TX) [157] Yes it is it's literally frightening a police contact, erm that simple
christopher hird (PS2TW) [158] Yep, I see.
Robert (PS2TX) [159] it's relatively straightforward, his own computer will give access to it.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [160] Right.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [cough] [...]
christopher hird (PS2TW) [161] To test this claim we set on John .
christopher hird (PS2TW) [162] Well we want that.
Robert (PS2TX) [163] Tim's got it.
(PS2TY) [164] I've got it.
Robert (PS2TX) [165] Tim, Tim.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [166] Thanks very much Mr [...]
Rodney (PS2U0) [167] Shaun [...] you want wine, you want wine.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [168] No, no, no, no.
Rodney (PS2U0) [169] Well [...] it's not mine [laugh] never drink when I'm working.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [170] Once an associate of criminals such as the Krays and Richardsons, he has a number of convictions for violent crime.
[171] But now living in South London he hasn't been behind bars for ten years.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [172] Just finished.
Rodney (PS2U0) [173] Good on ya.
[174] There you see a man that works in Peckham, you don't see many of them.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [175] You agreed that we could try for the purposes of this program to find out what we could about your criminal record and also about your health records.
Rodney (PS2U0) [176] Yes.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [177] Things that are not available to the public generally.
(PS2TY) [178] Well I was shocked when I heard that that that that yours whi yours you yours would attempt to [...] you got my permission, yes but, I'd be highly surprised if if you got them.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [179] 's criminal record, along with five million others, is stored here on the police national computer, based at Hendon.
[180] In these data banks are also vehicle details, fingerprint descriptions, and a vast amount of other information.
[181] This can be accessed within seconds by police officers across the country.
[182] The senior police officer with overall responsibility for data protection is John .
(PS2U1) [183] It is most important that the people have confidence in the way in which police handle this data.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [184] Why do you think it's important it does remain confidential though, I mean why why shouldn't all this be, you know, in the public domain anyway?
(PS2U1) [185] Well now, there's a question which raises the whole problem of privacy.
[186] Erm that in fact one of the odd points here is that when a person is convicted, that information is public, but nevertheless as the years go by and indeed er this has been recognized in for instance the rehabilitation of offenders act, it becomes private information and if someone's looking for a job the fact that he was convicted of an offence many years ago should not be er er relevant.
(PS2U2) [187] Hold on one moment and I'll just check for you.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [188] And to keep this sort of information confidential, those operating the P N C have to follow a detailed compliance manual.
[189] Every enquiry and who made it is logged, and there are regular spot checks, but still information seeps out.
[190] But their have been failings of the system haven't there, I mean there have been occasions
(PS2U1) [191] Oh I I would be it would be nonsense to say that there hasn't been failings of the system, sometimes through the carelessness of an officer, sometimes, certainly in the initial stage, because of their lack of awareness of the er provisions of the act.
[192] But I think that has now been tightened up and indeed the log of which I speak, and the audit manual has indeed increased the awareness of officers, increased their care in the handling of personal data, and the number of complaints is in fact reducing.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [193] These measures may make getting information off the P N C more difficult, but they do not make it impossible.
[194] More than one and a half thousand local police stations have online access to the computer.
[195] When we prepared for our next visit to , the secret camera was hidden in a jacket, the lens behind a badge in the buttonhole.
[196] Relaxed and expansive in his office, explained how he used a local policeman to obtain details from 's criminal record on the police national computer.
[197] So is that off the the P N C ultimately or all from his local?
Robert (PS2TX) [198] No that's that's off the the P N C it I mean it's obviously through his local police station but it's off the the the national computer.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [199] Right.
Robert (PS2TX) [200] But our guy very I mean basically what happened is our guy waited till a senior officer went into the the screen
christopher hird (PS2TW) [201] Mm.
Robert (PS2TX) [202] erm when he was asked about and stood over his shoulder and trying to take mental notes [...] .
christopher hird (PS2TW) [203] Yeah, yes.
[204] If there's a lot there, hard to take the note I suppose [...]
Robert (PS2TX) [205] Yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [206] I mean it's cos it's not of course as we know, it's not a secret that he has one, it's just a question of exactly what it is, it's the
Robert (PS2TX) [207] Yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [208] erm.
Robert (PS2TX) [209] That's it.
[210] I don't know, I mean these are definitely the sentences.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [211] What we were told about that your criminal record is that you had convictions for armed robbery and aggravated assault, is that out of the record that you were aware of is that correct?
Rodney (PS2U0) [212] Yes, yes, I'm that is correct, yes, but th th this is just amazing to me, that er this th this can happen, you know what I mean?
christopher hird (PS2TW) [213] But there are companies who advertise in Yellow Pages that they will do investigations on behalf of employers of future employees.
[214] And when you talk to them they will say we can find out whether they've got a criminal record or not, how can they offer that service in the public domain without having access to your computer?
(PS2U1) [215] ... The service which is provided by those people is in fact questionable, and indeed we ourselves would be interested in how in fact they obtain that information.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [216] But it wasn't only criminal records we were interested in, we said we wanted 's medical records too.
Robert (PS2TX) [217] His health record, for someone that does this sort of work, his health is terrible.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [218] Without the knowledge of 's G P, obtained information from his medical files.
[219] There's a reference there to you being referred by her to Greenwich district Hospital.
Rodney (PS2U0) [220] Yes.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [221] Erm for a certain treatment in October ninety two and ag also more recently, is that correct?
Rodney (PS2U0) [222] [...] yes, that's that's that's that's that's correct, yes .
christopher hird (PS2TW) [223] That's correct, and that the further down, I mean it says that er there is a er it says that the reason you've had been the reason you've been sent for this treatment is because of er a particular condition you've got.
Rodney (PS2U0) [224] Yes.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [225] Yeah, that's correct?
Rodney (PS2U0) [226] Yes, [...] straight.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [227] And the la I think the last paragraph which is er refers to some advice that has been given to you.
Rodney (PS2U0) [228] Advised by his doctor to give up, [...] straight, [laughing] to give up smoking []
christopher hird (PS2TW) [229] Yes.
Rodney (PS2U0) [230] [laughing] and give up drink [] yes that's right [...] yes.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [231] So all of that information matches ?
Rodney (PS2U0) [232] Aye yeah that's that that that I mean I've went to that doctor and and it's like a doctor's surgery surely is should be sacrament yo you shouldn't, know what I mean?
[233] Medical confidentiality you're you're just sitting there with bloody ... a private conversation we that I went for treatment with my doctor, and and the recommendations that she's given me in, well well what's the point er what er what's going on?
christopher hird (PS2TW) [234] Now why I mean do you think it matters that these things are so that these things are so, that these things which we thought were in, you know private to you, and not available to other people so easily, why do you think it matters that they actually are apparently in return for mo payment, are available to anyone?
Rodney (PS2U0) [235] It's scandalous, scandalous, that means that people in this country have got no privacy at all.
[236] None whatsoever, they can can't even have a confidentiality with a practitioner.
[237] If that's the day they'll be telling me they can get documentation now from priests in the confessional, that'll be the next bloody thing you'll be telling me, I can't under you know what I mean, what's it all about?
christopher hird (PS2TW) [238] Although 's G P herself did not release the health records, getting hold of such data seems to be an easy task for the private investigator.
[239] At the beginning of September we asked Robert to investigate our fourth target, Sarah .
[240] And I don't know whether her health records will be of relevance or not really, erm it's much more likely the health records of her daughter who's called Flora.
Robert (PS2TX) [241] Right.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [242] Erm and Flora she's called.
Robert (PS2TX) [243] Mhm.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [244] Erm would be of, you know, could be of relevance.
Robert (PS2TX) [245] Okay.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [246] Yeah?
Robert (PS2TX) [247] No problem.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [248] It should have been a problem because the personal details of Flora are meant to be secret, under the terms of a high court injunction granted in the middle of last month, Sarah is not allowed to discuss anything about her daughter with anyone, other than her legal and medical advisors.
(PS2U3) [249] They have information about daugh about my daughter which I do not, I cannot imagine how they have obtained it, I am absolutely appalled.
[250] I spent the past nine and a half years doing everything I can to keep everything about my daughter secret.
[251] They have the name and address of the school she goes to, ... I, goodness, this is monstrous.
[252] I had my daughter treated under an assumed name until she was five, to try and prevent the press from finding out things about her, and they have the secret name that I used for here in here.
[253] It is believed that this surname is used by her mother to divert attention from her.
[254] The names of my G Ps and their address, when I was last seen, or when Flora I suppose their talking about Flora, [...] Flora was last seen, by our G P.
[255] ... Outrageous, this is wicked, it's monstrous, but I'm absolutely appalled, now I'm not allowed to speak about her because that's going to be harmful to her, but any Tom, Dick, or Harry can get information which they have no right to about her and about me, about anybody else, and can flog it.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [256] seems to have got most of his information about Sarah from the data held at her local Family Health Services Authority in Bristol, registered under the data protection act, it holds a large amount of information on patients within its area including the name and address of a patient's doctor.
[257] One day in September, Flora's doctor received a call from someone who claimed to be from the Family Health Services Authority, asking for details from his files, suspicious, he gave nothing away.
naomi march (PS2U4) [258] I then rang the Family Health Authority er myself, and they'd never heard of the person and had no trace of of the name I gave them.
[259] Erm told me that they had a lot of or a lot a number of people ringing purporting to be someone asking for information, and they like to keep a log of these bogus phone calls, I then rang the patients mother and and told her what had happened as quickly as I could.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [260] What is the thing about this that concerns you most of all?
(PS2U3) [261] The implications for my daughter's safety and security, and and mine and the rest of my family's, because there have been a number of occasions over the years when I've had to turn to the police ... because of my anxiety about that when ... there's been a lot of attention from the media and when the press have ... published our address and so on erm and we've had I've had specific death threats particularly against my daughter on one occasion.
[262] ... So it's that is very alarming to think that erm somebody putting it about ... or happy to make available to others information about my domestic arrangements and my habits.
[263] ... And of course the pro the information about Flora is the is the thing which concerns me most.
Robert (PS2TX) [264] Er, anything else?
christopher hird (PS2TW) [265] Erm, yes there is one other thing about the program, er which you might be interested in.
Robert (PS2TX) [266] Mhm.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [267] The program's about you.
[268] Erm it's about how people sell personal data er for money to other people erm and erm you're quite er you will be quite a substantial part of the program.
Robert (PS2TX) [269] ... Hmm.
[270] ... Naming us?
christopher hird (PS2TW) [271] Yes, that's right.
[272] I just wondered what your response to it was, seeing as er what you're doing is getting information to which you're not entitled, and selling it for money to other people.
Robert (PS2TX) [273] Ah, I'm sorry I can't comment.
[274] Thanks. [gets up from chair and leaves]
christopher hird (PS2TW) [275] Well don't you think that it's really rather improper for you to be doing this?
[276] After all people are entitled to some secrecy [running down stairs] aren't they, about their [...] [breaking furniture] You don't feel that there's any need at all to give any explanation of your behaviour?
[277] [noise - traffic] You don't think that [...] an explanation is due here?
[278] This information after all should have received confidential and does belong to other people, doesn't it?
Robert (PS2TX) [279] What I thinks embarrassing is that [...]
christopher hird (PS2TW) [280] And you're just stealing it you're just stealing it so that you can make money aren't you?
[281] [noise - traffic] [shouting] Do people have a right to have their health records [...] confidential do they not? []
[282] ... Have you got nothing to say what so ever?
Robert (PS2TX) [283] 'Fraid not, no. [footsteps] ...
christopher hird (PS2TW) [284] Robert is not alone in selling personal information from data banks.
[285] Many companies, using only the most casual euphemisms, offer these services, so we spent a day on the phone talking to detective agencies listed in Yellow Pages, asking them what they had to offer.
[286] We said we were a research company thinking of vetting a future employee.
[287] Before they came we removed all trace of our connection to television, rearranged the office furniture a bit, and hid a camera in a bankers box.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [288] The bank enquiry line
christopher hird (PS2TW) [289] If they're clean.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [290] Okay.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [291] Yeah.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [292] To obtain overdraft facility, current bank balance, and comments on how the account has been run,
christopher hird (PS2TW) [293] Yeah.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [294] that would cost you fifty pounds for that.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [295] Right.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [296] Plus V A T.
Unknown speaker (HE7PSUNK) [297] Right we can supply bank information for instance we can supply you with the balance, erm we should be able to let you know what sort of standing orders there are, erm but that ... would be charged at an extra rate because
christopher hird (PS2TW) [298] Yeah.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [299] we would have to find out
christopher hird (PS2TW) [300] Yeah.
lenny henry (PS2U5) [301] about the bank
christopher hird (PS2TW) [...]
lenny henry (PS2U5) [302] and that's not easy.
Unknown speaker (HE7PSUNK) [303] It's a grey area, and everything that we do is totally ethical and professional, but obviously what were talking about is obtaining information.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [304] Yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [305] There is a hell of a lot of information er at at mm the Fraud Squad
christopher hird (PS2TW) [306] Yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [307] I E associates and that sort of thing
christopher hird (PS2TW) [308] Yeah, yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [309] which I can have checked, you know what I mean
christopher hird (PS2TW) [310] Yeah, yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [311] you throw the name Bill Boggins into that
christopher hird (PS2TW) [312] Yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [313] and it'll come up that he's and that's probably the sort of person your going to get somebody who's is a smell about rather than
christopher hird (PS2TW) [314] Yeah.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [315] do you know what I mean?
christopher hird (PS2TW) [316] Yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [317] And so that's why erm you know we we only use certain contacts who we know are very reliable
christopher hird (PS2TW) [318] Yeah, yeah.
Robert (PS2TX) [319] erm and in a position really where where they wouldn't be challenged
christopher hird (PS2TW) [320] Right.
Robert (PS2TX) [321] but of course they they want to be paid ... quite well I
christopher hird (PS2TW) [322] Sure.
Robert (PS2TX) [323] hasten to add.
(PS2TY) [324] To ascertain s criminal record hundred pounds, to ascertain that.
[325] If it's got a full criminal record if their known er that could be it could be as cheap as fifty pounds, for a criminal record I can't make any guarantees on that
christopher hird (PS2TW) [326] Right.
(PS2TY) [327] Because the there's only one way of obtaining somebody's criminal record and that's getting a police officer to do it.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [328] To do the enquiring?
(PS2TY) [329] Yes.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [330] Right.
Rodney (PS2U0) [331] Basically we have erm access.
[332] Not official access, but we do have access.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [333] Yeah.
(PS2U1) [334] I know people in this sort of line of business who will sit here and tell you all sorts of
christopher hird (PS2TW) [laugh]
(PS2U1) [335] crap.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [336] Here, here.
(PS2U1) [337] Excuse me er anyway it's bu really there's no, we haven't got a crystal ball you know.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [338] Yeah.
[339] Yeah.
(PS2U1) [340] It's about grey matter and tr and and a bit of, you know, ducking and diving and a bit of erm cun and it's it's who you know and not what you know [phone rings] I mean really, excuse me one moment.
[341] [phonecall starts] He's a good lad.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [342] Yesterday we got five tracing agents to come into our office, all of them offered to get details of people's bank accounts,
(PS2U1) [343] Mm.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [344] details several cases details from the er the police national computer, er for sale at prices varying from sort of fifty pounds to a hundred and fifty pounds
(PS2U1) [345] Mhm.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [346] and we've just rung these people up from the Yellow Pages, I mean this does suggest doesn't it [...] that there's quite a f quite a a big market out there for this stuff ?
(PS2U1) [347] Well it may well suggest it, I mean I have no no reason to doubt the statement you've made or even statements made in newspapers, they've added to my concern from my own investigations.
[348] What I cannot do is go around and do a full enquiry to find out what the position is, an enquiry indeed might be difficult, because you may have found these people but actually pinning down er to who does it and what actually happens may be more difficult.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [349] It is not clear why it should be that difficult, routinely, every day, enquiry agents are used to discover details of employees and customers financial, health, and criminal records.
[350] Very, very large solicitors firms, insurance companies, and very large multinationals, these were just some of the customers of which the private detectives who visited us boasted.
[351] And they will never be short of custom until the government acts.
[352] We asked the Home Office to appear in this program, but they refused, instead they sent us a letter full of encouraging noises about how seriously they took the question of data protection.
[353] However, serious action to close the loopholes in the law will have to wait on the parliamentary timetable and the European legislation, until then, with more and more companies wanting to know the truth about their employees, competitors and suppliers, and with more and more information being put onto computers, the trade in personal data looks set to thrive.
(PS2U1) [354] In the security world everything is a compromise, as there are no absolutes erm you want an absolutely secure health service, don't have a health service, don't let ever give any information out, erm if you fall ill away from your home er you're called into a hospital, you would like the thought that er the hospital can ring up your doctor and get information about you fairly quickly you don't want to have a whole bureaucratic erm apparatus saying no that information isn't available.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [355] It sounds as though it's going to go on forever then.
(PS2U1) [356] It could well go on forever unless one of two things happens, unless everybody guards themselves against giving information away, which as a matter of practice many will do, and many probably won't, or secondly that some legislation is brought about to make this an offence, and to treat it seriously.
christopher hird (PS2TW) [357] There seems little doubt that legislation would reduce the extent to which confidential personal data is sold.
[358] But as those who want the information get more cunning, we may find that our personal privacy has been eroded forever.
(PS2U2) [359] My own feeling is that er er as against someone who is er reasonably determined and reasonably methodical there is very little privacy, there is more privacy if you are extremely rich and can afford to have bank accounts in Liechtenstein and can afford to hire lawyers to prevent stories about you appearing in the newspapers, but for th for the majority of us erm there is very little privacy. [recording ends]