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Some government departments are spending thousands of pounds on calling Directory Enquiries, despite the service being free online.

Every year, some call premium rate 118 directory enquiry services, but other departments have a ban on such calls.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spent more than £15,000 calling these numbers more than 10,000 times, BBC Radio 4's You and Yours discovered.

A DWP spokesman said 118 calls were only used as a "last resort".

"Staff are advised to use internet services first," he said.

"It is important for our staff to be able to contact customers, in particular the most vulnerable, to make sure they are getting the support they need."
'Supporting' work

You and Yours also found that HM Revenue and Customs spent £12,065 last year, and £26,753 over the past three years making 43,552 calls.

A spokesman for the tax authority said 118 numbers had now been barred and staff were only permitted to use a special low-cost corporate directory enquiry service as a last resort.

The Passport Office spent £19,132 over the past three years calling the services more than 5,000 times, You and Yours also discovered. In some cases it cost as much as £54 a call as staff stayed connected for more than 30 minutes.

The department said that in a tiny proportion of cases staff needed to use directory enquiries to verify information and "support the processing of applications".

Source: BBC News

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More than 300,000 customers affected.

Optus has admitted to three data breaches affecting more than 300,000 customers and promised the Australian Privacy Commissioner it will complete an independent review of its IT security systems and implement any recommendations.

Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim commenced an investigation into the security breaches in July last year after Optus voluntarily notified Pilgrim of the three incidents.

Source: itnews AU

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Europe’s Article 29 Working Party, the body comprised of data protection representatives from individual Member States of the European Union, has now published guidelines on the implementation of the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, which was handed down by Europe’s top court back in May.

The European Court of Justice ruling gives private individuals in Europe the right to request that search engines de-index specific URLs attached to search results for their name — if the information being associated with their name is inaccurate, outdated or irrelevant. The ruling does not generally apply to public figures, so requires search engines to weigh up requests against any public interest there might be to accessing the information in a name search de-listing request.

Source: TechCrunch

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Google faces more huge fines for failing to update its privacy policy in Europe, and this time it's the Dutch whose noses are out of joint.

The Web giant has been given until the end of February to modify the privacy policy, which the Dutch data watchdog believes falls short of the need to offer "unambiguous consent."

The regulator is insisting that users be given "clear and consistent information" about the way their personal information is used, reports Bloomberg.

"Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us and without asking us for our consent," said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA).

"This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested."

Failure to comply could result in fines of up to €15 million (around $18.7 million). This comes on top of penalties awarded by authorities in Spain of €900,000 and France of €150,000 for flouting the same laws.

The problems came about after Google created a new single privacy policy in 2012 covering 60 of its products.

The change included a number of ambiguities that authorities found unacceptable, but Google has thus far failed to make the requested changes.

Source: Search Engine Watch

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Google Inc. will have to change how it applies the right to be forgotten to its websites beyond the European Union under rules drafted by the EU’s privacy chiefs.

The guidelines also rebuke the owner of the world’s most-used search engine for routinely notifying news outlets about story links it has removed -- a process that has thrown some people who’d sought extra privacy back into the media spotlight.

“All the extensions are included, including the .com,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of the EU group of 28 privacy watchdogs, told reporters in Brussels today. “There is no legal basis for routine transmissions from Google, or any other search engines, to editors,” she said. “It may, in some cases be necessary, but not as a routine and not as an obligation, as Google said.”

Source: Bloomberg

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