back to article No data protection exemption for YouTube baby battle video

The woman at the centre of a battle with social services over the future of her unborn baby will not be able to claim an exemption from the Data Protection Act, a legal expert has warned. Vanessa Brookes of Leamington Spa was recently told by a social worker that the local authority would apply for an interim court order to …


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  1. leslie

    they should not be sued.....

    ''The problems arise when I put someone else's personal data on these web-sites in the absence of consent" he said.''


    But the 'data' they posted was not of someone else personal data, it was his opinion, and a statement of intended action by his self and colleagues.

    More of these interfering busybodies should be outed, they probably wreck as many families as they save, and force us to watch disturbing adverts that amaze me how they get around the advertising codes of practice, who wants to hear that little johnny hides under the bedsheets from his weirdo uncle as I sit down to eat my evening meal, puts you right off your sausages....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public Servants and Transparency

    As their salary is paid by tax dollars, public servants should be on record whenever on-the-clock. Why should the government be the only one allowed to have records of such encounters?

    Likewise telephone companies keep recordings for "customer service purposes", but recording the conversation yourself without consent is illegal.

    It all seems like a double standard. You should be able to record in person and telephone conversations with anyone acting in an official capacity *without consent or knowlege* of the other party, same as you can keep email logs.

    The subject is not privacy or voyeuorism, but keeping documentation for legal purposes.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    surely not personal data

    I can't see how a recorded conversation can be considered personal data within the scope of the data protection directives.

    They must obviously have something they don't want public knowledge in that conversation.

  4. Martin Benson

    leslie - do you read the Daily Mail?

    A typical Middle-England knee-jerk reaction.

    Social Services wreck families by taking children from their parents

    Except when they don't take a child away, and it gets harmed

    In which case, they are incompetent and should have done a better job

    But they can't have any more resources as it's our tax-payers money...

    You know, I don't think that Social Services would make a court order to remove an unborn child from its mother unless they had a damn good reason to do so. And they also have to persuade the court that they have a damn good reason.

  5. Dennis

    Someone should tell the Information Commissioner

    Someone should tell the Information Commissioner about this European Court of Justice decision.

    I've just consulted the Information Commissioner's web site and tried the Self Assessment Guide to determine whether I need to register. My family tree is on my web site.


    If you answer YES you are told "YOU ARE UNDER NO REQUIREMENT TO NOTIFY". There is no explanation to Q5 indicating the if you publish personal, family or houshold data you need to register.

    Perhaps I will submit a Notification to see what happens.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jesus Wept

    Guys I know we read things, becuase they are IT related, but the big picture here, is that because a woman once got depressed, all her kids are now taken away from her as soon as they are born. Even though she's MARRIED Christ BIGGER PICTURE HERE PEOPLE!!!!!

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    Too much is done in secret

    I do not know the rights/wrongs of this case, but I do have a lot of experience of the abuses of family law in this country. One of the biggest problems is that it is all done in secret to "protect the child" - in fact the effect is quite the opposite.

    Courts reguarly abuse kids and parents, the parents can do little about a system that is more interested in protecting its own backside and following precedent. Because it is in secret the Social services, cafcass & judges come out with outrageous decision and destroy families. The lack of indendent over sight (eg press) means that they can do what they want.

    Remember: the UK's worst child abusers are family court judges.

  8. Stuart MAskery

    Worthless Acts of Parliment?

    The point that needs making here is that even if a challenge is made under the DPA then the current case backlog with the Information Commissioner is making the Data Protection Acts and Freedom of Information Acts useless, as of last week when I called chasing up timescales the Information commissioner has a 3-5 month backlog on appointing an investigator for Data Protection act matters and in excess of 12 months delay on Freedom of Information.

    So now any agency or organization (like for example social services) can take up to 40 days to process information requests under the Data Protection Act, (20 days for Freedom of Information Requests) refuse to part with information so you then have to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner and wait your turn which by the time the Information Commissioner looks at it then the information is either too late or totally outdated

    In this case the recording is justified because had the mother applied for information from Calderdale council on why they wanted to remove her child, then the child would be born and in care by the time the information was released. Now the "boot is on the other foot" they are screaming "foul".

  9. Richard Baxter

    Damn good reason?

    Martin Benson - try telling that to parents who had their children snatched from them for no good reason at the height of the "satanic abuse" witch hunt. (There is, of course, absolutely no evidence that satanic abuse even exists, let alone that these parents were perpetrators.)

    Social services personnel are only human and are therefore as vulnerable to moral panics and sheer stupidity as the rest of us sheeple. It's only right that there should be as much transparency as possible, as the consequences of a mistake can be devastating.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data "Protection"

    While I don’t feel that I can make a comment about this particular case, I’m left wondering about the reason given for the take down notice.

    The recording was made “without the knowledge or consent of our member of staff”.

    So, does that mean that every company that says calls may be recorded for “training purposes” is also breaking the law?

    What about every shop I visit that uses CCTV?

    Even if these recordings are not illegal surely the paparazzi are breaking the law when the film or photograph a celebrity without their consent?

    Seems like amazing double standards or a crap reason to me.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's still around

    It may have gone on YouTube, but once on the internet, always on the internet...

  12. Mark


    Likewise telephone companies keep recordings for "customer service purposes", but recording the conversation yourself without consent is illegal.

    Surely thats the point, it was a recording taken without consent, the same law stops you from being wiretapped without permission for the police to use in court....or maybe used to don't know if it still appplies nowadays.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Data "Protection"

    I'm perplexed by this too. I work for an ISP that has recently introduced a 25p per minute charge (you can guess which one), and part of the new set up is that we apparently no longer have to advise callers that the call may be recorded, even though we do record for training etc. Which would suggest to me that the lady in this case has every right to record the meeting she had with social services.

    Whether she has the right to publish the recording is an entirely diferent matter in my view.

    Either way, having known people who have had their kids taken away, it ain't a nice situation to be in, and I can understand the frustration that has led to this recording being made.

  14. Rob

    RE: Consent

    "Likewise telephone companies keep recordings for "customer service purposes", but recording the conversation yourself without consent is illegal."

    Eh... I don't know about where you are from but recording it without the customers' consent is also illegal around these parts. We as customers have the right to request the call to not be recorded. Having worked in a call center at Citi's Transaction Fraud department I can tell you that it does happen and we do stop recording *audio* of the conversation at that point. The call still has a record kept of audio and video (capture of the representative's pc screen) but the audio stops when the customer requests it.

    When I receive calls I want to record for my records I ask the other person if I may (I am already recording by default) and if they say no I thank them for their time and hang up.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if only it were a single nation problem

    but it happens on this side of the pond as well. The accusations, the threats, the "cooperate and accept all accusations, or we'll say you're uncooperative and automatically steal your children" situation that happens in the little room at Social Services, the six months out of Masters of Social Work twentysomething or bitter angry man-hater who forces the father to lose his job in a dozen court appearances then claims the father "unfit"-this is how it really works.

    Then, when they steal a perfectly safe child from perfectly capable parents, run them thru "classes" and indoctrinations, they claim a "success" because the child isn't being "abused" anymore.

    We won't forget the Constitutional violations-illegal search and seizure, guilty until proven innocent, and/or the right to confront your accuser.

    But the Democrats love Social Services, and want to wank about Bush possibly violating the "civil rights" of other hostile nations (that don't even give these rights to their own people) rather than the constant, dangerous, decades long shadow police that CPS (CWS) has been conducting in the War On Family.

    posted anonymously since I work for the 'enemy'

  16. Steve

    RE: Consent

    Once you hear the message about the call being recorded, if you continue with the call and don't ask for it not to be recorded then you have given your consent.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The actual meeting content is appalling

    I can't legally tell you exactly what is on the tape, but having listened to it, it is clear that the authorities believe that they have no cause for concern, yet STILL wish to remove the baby from them.

    Frankly, I'm appalled at what is being covered up here under the spurious premise of "Data Protection". I wonder how these people can sleep at night.

    This is a f***ing disgrace.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Martin Benson

    Either you are not a parent or never been in a Court. Get real.

    Maybe you work for Social Services. You probably have mongrammed collars SS. SS style.

    alain williams has it spot on.

    by the way alain, you posted your name. have you registered?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Above - A fine example of a group of people with no idea of the facts of the situation, the law in question, or most likely the world outside their own bubble and boring tabloid fueled mania, but still insist on yap yap yapping.

    Also what help would such a recording published on the internet be, other then to cause some form of drab sensationalit back lash fueled by some retarded tabloid journalist? It's obviously not for legal purposes, becouse if anything it simply reduces their chances of victory (paranoid, attention seeking, media whoring.) Kids already a 2.0 media freak fuel for the comments section and it still ain't been born.

    And to the retards pratteling on about Social Services, you're all quick to point the finger when they mess up, just like with mental health, medicine, shit any business that's involved with hard decisions about peoples lives. But you don't give two shits when they do something right, go take your self rightious bull and stick it.

    Adios - Anon (is legion, internet super heros, urinating in a sea of urine)

  20. Mad Mike

    Power Corrupts

    'You know, I don't think that Social Services would make a court order to remove an unborn child from its mother unless they had a damn good reason to do so. And they also have to persuade the court that they have a damn good reason.'

    I'm the last person to say the job of social services is easy, but they do seem to screw-up an unfeasible number of times and when the situation seems to be obvious. I know a lot of people who have been involved on both sides of this and can fully understand why this woman did this. The reality is that in these matters everything is done in secret and the parents are treated as guilty pretty much from the start. There's very much a 'no smoke without fire' mentality.

    The satanic abuse scandal is a prime example where social services got some evidence of potential problems and went so completely over the top it defies belief. Even when courts, independant investigations etc.etc. came to the conclusion the parents were innocent, many could still not get their children back. The reason? The child had been away from them for so long, it would not be in the childs best interests to disturb their current life and return them to their natural parents. I believe some children had even been adopted before the investigations etc. were finalised!!

    With anyone in a position of power, with little or no oversight in many cases, you have to be careful of the Hitler syndrome. IT security is a prime example. Good IT security people know they hold a very priviledged and powerful position and are very careful and controlled in how they exercise their powers. However, there are a fair number who run around like mini Hitlers and SS stormtroopers because power corrupts. And the greater the power, the less the oversight, the more it corrupts.

  21. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the UK's worst child abusers are family court judges"

    Funny that. I thought the worst child abusers were the ones that sodomize the kids, or force them into sexual acts of variously degrading nature.

    I obviously need counseling.

  22. Whitter

    When enacting a role of employment

    DPA does not cover you when the data in question relates to the enactment of an emploment role, as the data (your actions) are not "personal" in that context: they are the actions of the role, even though performed by yourself.

  23. John Bayly

    @Martin Benson

    British Social Workers are renowned in Ireland (the Republic) for being heavy handed and not taking the needs of families into account.

    I'm not trying to tar them all with the same brush, but the ones in this recording are really making it hard for their colleagues when a real issue crops up.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Recording telephone conversations

    The last I heard about consent for the recording of telephone conversations was that as long as one party is aware that it is being recorded, that's enough. I don't know about how it affects the use of that recording or how it affects conference calls.

    Just my tuppence.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cunning part of Social Services plan... that they will apply to the court on the day of the birth (when the mother is in hosptial) and have demanded that the woman stays in hospital until AFTER the court has made a decision i.e. they do not want her to be able to represent herself to the court.

  26. N1AK

    Quality of comments

    I never expected to see so much ill informed, incorrect and knee jerk rubbish coming from people who read "The Reg".

    The absolute butchering of data protection law people have applied to try and make it say what they want is unbelieveable, and of course the typical gutter press view of social services as the great evil.

    It IS perfectly possible that this woman is being unfairly treated, it IS perfectly possible that removing her child is a huge mistake. But no one here is able to judge that, none of us have seen her medical records, the social service portfolio or any of the other background material related to this case.

    The reason publishing the video is wrong, is the only way Social Services can defend itself is by releasing her confidential information to the public so we can pick over her psychiatrists reports, medication history etc along with a full explanation of the risks and relevant case histories that lead them to their conclusions.

    I don't want UK Justice to be decided by releasing everything to the press and seeing which way the baying mob goes.

  27. A J Stiles

    One law for them and another law for us

    Just about every business these days seems to be recording telephone calls, and of course they tell us it's for *our* benefit (quality control, staff training, to provide a better customer experience, blah blah). This would seem to imply that the consent of *both* parties is no longer required before a conversation can legally be recorded.

    So what happens when somebody tries to give them a dose of their own medicine?

    It's one law for them and another law for us.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately not an isolated incident

    The old question of "what is the different between a social worker and a rotweiller" comes to mind. The answer is that you have a 50-50 chance of getting your child back from a rotweiller.

    One of my daughter's friends (single) lives in a flat which bans children and pets. She has fallen pregnant but rather than help her find suitable accomodation, the local SS have stated that they will "remove the child at birth next month as she obviously cannot look after it".

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This happens a lot

    Take a look at

    It's part of the secrecy behind family courts in the UK. Parents are sent to jail for publishing details of how social workers use the feeblest of excuses (below average IQ, emotional abuse). This is a national scandal far worse than the Satanic rites but the secrecy behind family court judges means that it continues.

    The children who are taken mainly are those who are adoptable. They tend to be white as these are way way easier to get adopted than black or asian children. So those children are left with their parents and as has been seen can end up dead. This is deliberate institutional racism.

    Enfield council received £900,000 from the Govt for getting 18 children into adoption. that's what your adoptable child is worth. £50,000.

    And secrecy works one way. Adoption agencies and magazines will advertise children for adoption with photos and their real names. You however are not allowed to mention the case to the papers or on the web. It is behaviour that the Nazis and Soviet Communists would be very proud of.

  30. Martin Benson

    I probably shouldn't have commented in the first place...

    ...but I don't actually see what I did to deserve personal insults (from brave Anon!)...

    And anecdotal evidence like "My brother's uncle's friend had this problem and they were just useless" is no more evidence for Social Services being totally incompetent than "My brother's uncle's friend once saw a spook" is evidence for the supernatural.

    Oh, and yes, I am a parent and yes, I do know more than a bit about the court system.

  31. Andrew Woodvine


    The problem here is that the video could personally identify the member of staff who was not aware that he was being recorded. So surely if the face was masked out then there would be no breach? Just in the same way as that some companies when fulfilling a subject access request for CCTV footage they hold on you will mask out the faces of anyone else in the recording when they send it to you.

  32. John Brookes

    Recording calls: tea, or nay?

    iirc, when the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Ian Blair?) was found to have recorded some phone calls, it turned out he hadn't broken the law, as either party is allowed to record a phonecall for their own personal records. The logic is, I imagine, that - as you've already heard the conversation - there can be nothing wrong with you hearing it again. It's only when you want to play the recording to others that permission from the other party must be sought.

    @ISP - Pretty sure your company is breaking the law unless the recordings are covered in the T&Cs(?).....

    Re: Social workers

    I know a few people who work in social services and they're all conscientious, well-meaning and smart. They're also massively underpaid for the burdens their jobs entail, so it doesn't surprise me one bit that some social workers are lazy, power hungry and/or stupid.

    Any role that gives you power over others is bound to attract the minority of people who just want to have power over others; it's human nature. Add in the fact that a person's most keenly-felt responsibilities are to themselves and their loved ones and the need for accountability is a no-brainer. How far you are prepared to go to make them accountable is a matter for your own conscience, but if you are prepared to go beyond what is permissible under law you can hardly be surprised when the law comes and bites you in the ass.

    Just my 2p-worth.

  33. eugen

    DPA abuse to enrich PFI

    DPA abuse to enrich PFI

    We recently called the Lord Chancellor Department's press office for advice in relation to the rights of vulnerable tenants to record their interactions with workers from a dodgy PFI building firm in North London.

    The press office consulted with the Lord Chancellor himself and then advised us that individuals would not have to register under the Data Protection Act, and that individuals, unlike companies, are free to make recordings in their home without needing to tell or warn anyone that recordings are being made.

    A few days later a covert recording captured a senior PFI official in the act of abuse and intimidation. When complaint was submitted to the Local North London Council about abuse and intimidation, the liberal Islington Council wrote in response to the formal complaint

    "... you were not given permission to record any Council officer or individual working for, or representing our Partners. If recordings were made therefore, the members of staff would have been unaware of this fact and bearing this in mind, I would not be willing to accept these as evidence. I can confirm however that a senior PFI official has investigated your allegation of abuse, but no evidence was found to support your claim".

    So now we know: Those who abuse are by virtue of the liberal interpretation of the DPA not guilty because evidence is now no longer relevant when arriving at a verdict.


  34. Justin Case

    Nothing to hide?

    IMHO public employees when undertaking their jobs should never say anything which they mind being broadcast to the whole world. If they are ashamed of it, why say it. They're supposed to be working for us, I naively thought...

  35. Ray Foulkes

    Tell them up front

    In the event of an important interview, everybody should get into the habit of saying "This conversation may be recorded for the purpose of protecting the innocent"- whether being recorded or not.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reply to: "Someone should tell the Information Commissioner"

    "Dennis" you are missing the point entirely. It is perfectly OK to record conversations or process data for YOUR OWN DOMESTIC AND PERSONAL USE, but the publishing of such material is NOT classed as Domestic or Personal use , THAT is why the Judgment went against the Swedish person ,and why if you publish such material you may well be (unless you come under any of the exceptions in the Directive) unlawfully processing said data.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here is the Judgement itself. Read it and understand it.

    If you read this Judgement you should understand that use of personal data on your own computer and for personal and domestic use is fine, BUT if you publish anything about someone's Health ,Sex Life, Religious Belief's, etc as defined

    THEN you will have lost that exemption and be guilty of unlawful processing UNLESS you can prove one of the number of exemptions apply to you.

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