Right to see Parole Board decisions comes into force

Law change in England and Wales prompted by row over proposed release of serial sex attacker John Worboys

Members of the public will be able to request summaries of Parole Board decisions on whether prisoners are safe to release under a law change prompted by the handling of the case of serial sex attacker John Worboys.

The Parole Board was previously unable to tell victims or the public the reasons why it had decided whether or not to release a prisoner.

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Data protection and the NHS | Letters

Jon Baines says NHS trusts and others misunderstand the General Data Protection Regulation, Richard Stallman says personal data is only harmless when not collected, and John Chen of BlackBerry says individuals should own their own data

The General Data Protection Regulation does not require organisations to contact consumers to obtain approval for further communications (however the contact details were originally collected). And it certainly doesn’t require NHS trusts to “get explicit permissions from patients” to send appointment reminders (New data law raises fears for NHS messages to patients, 19 May). That some NHS trusts are apparently under this misapprehension (which is as a result of confusion regarding GDPR and the 2003 regulations relating to the sending of electronic direct marketing) is concerning. A reminder message is both a very useful service for a patient, and a sensible way of avoiding the cost to the NHS of missed appointments. What it is definitely not, however, is a direct marketing message.

Indeed, if NHS trusts are using patient data in this way, and if the result is some patients wrongly not getting reminders, those trusts are arguably breaching the existing data protection law that requires data to be “adequate” for the purposes for which it is held.
Jon Baines
Data protection adviser, Mishcon de Reya LLP

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Further arrests of Saudi women's rights activists in escalating crackdown

Ten leading campaigners reportedly held as media denounce women as ‘traitors’ for supporting end to ban on female drivers

At least 10 prominent Saudi activists, mostly women’s rights campaigners, have now been reported to have been arrested in what appears to be an escalating clampdown ahead of the much-vaunted lifting of the prohibition on women driving in the kingdom on 24 June.

The arrests, with more feared by human rights campaigners, come amid a high-profile campaign in Saudi media outlets and on social media denouncing the women as “traitors”.

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Vague guidance won’t stop women being forced to wear heels and makeup | Anna Macey

The government’s bland advice on sexist dress codes misses an opportunity to take on this serious problem

In 2015 Nicola Thorp was sent home from work as a receptionist at a corporate accountancy firm without pay after refusing to wear high heels. Thorp started a petition to make it unlawful for employers to insist on high heels, which achieved sufficient signatures to require a parliamentary debate. The women and equalities committee decided to investigate sexist dress codes generally, and in January 2017 produced a report entitled High heels and workplace dress codes, which concluded that existing law already prohibited dress codes requiring high heels, and would virtually always prohibit requirements to wear makeup, and skirts, but that the law was not well understood or enforced, resulting in widespread abuse.

Last week, 10 months after the committee requested it, the Government Equalities Office finally produced its own guidance on how workplace dress codes and uniforms should comply with sex equality legislation. The guidance is bland and vague, failing to make it absolutely clear to employers that requiring heels, makeup and skirts will virtually always be unlawful sex discrimination, and shows that the government is not prepared to take on employers and address the serious problem of sexist dress codes in the workplace.

Related: Law must be tougher over dress code discrimination, say MPs

Related: Belgian university tells female students to wear ‘low-cut’ tops to graduation ceremony

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This report on the British sex trade is a heartbreaking wake-up call | Sophie Walker

The violence, coercion and powerlessness that women suffer has been laid bare – the law must now change to protect them

“You know when you buy something and it doesn’t work properly, the first thing you will do is pick it up and shake it. The same principle applies to prostitution. If your mouth isn’t open wide enough or your throat isn’t deep enough. So you are always at risk of being raped or abused if the buyer feels he is not getting what he paid for.”

Mia de Faoite spent six years in prostitution. During those years she was raped numerous times, including a vicious gang rape, and physical assaults were a common occurrence. She is one of many survivors and activists working to smash the myth of the happy hooker, the smiling professional escort offering “sex work” to grateful, respectful men. It’s a powerful image that is promoted relentlessly by the vastly wealthy sex industry to normalise prostitution. But an important report published on Monday makes clear that this violence and coercion is not an unintended and manageable consequence of an otherwise empowering profession. It is the whole modus operandi.

Related: Why prostitution should never be legalised | Julie Bindel

Related: If sex workers can’t advertise online, it forces them on to the street | Molly Smith

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Detoxifying social media would be easier than you might think | William Perrin

To find the tools to clamp down on online misogyny, racism and bullying, parliament needs to look to the past

It’s great that Matt Hancock and Sajid Javid have said they will regulate the internet, but what could they actually do? The culture secretary said that when he called in representatives of 14 leading internet companies to discuss his ideas, only four turned up.

The government said it will introduce new laws to tackle “the full range of online harm”. This must mean dealing not just with serious crime, but with the harm produced every day by social media, such as abuse, bullying, racism and misogyny, with little or no protection for children. These things either aren’t quite crimes, or aren’t serious enough for the police to chase – and there are precious few concrete ideas for how to reduce them.

Related: Social media firms failing to protect young people, survey finds

Politicians fret over whether the technology can be regulated at all, and where regulation stops and censorship starts

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The Guardian view on the Grenfell Tower inquiry: necessary but not sufficient | Editorial

An obsession with deregulation of building fire regulations meant warning signs of looming disaster seem to have been missed on the watch of Conservative ministers

The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire finally begins this week with a fortnight of testimony from friends and relatives of the 71 people who died in the terrible blaze on the night of 14 June 2018. The blackened shell of the 24-storey tower has become a symbol of the inequalities of Britain. Almost a year on, there remains a disturbing feeling that justice is far from being delivered. The families of the dead are a long way from possessing any sense of completion. The inquiry, led by a judge, is a necessary step, but it is far from being a sufficient one.

The government has yet to make much progress on the houses that the former Grenfell residents need – only one in three of the families are living in a permanent new home. Woeful handling of the situation by Kensington and Chelsea council has not improved much since it dumped its ineffective leadership last year, bringing in a new head who’d never been to a tower block. Unsurprisingly the council continues to build fewer affordable homes than any other London borough.

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Home Office faces pressure over deportation of highly skilled migrants

MPs and member of Lords make separate calls for end to ‘repugnant’ use of paragraph 322(5) of immigration law

A group of about 20 MPs and a member of the House of Lords are to establish separate pressure groups to persuade the Home Office to stop deporting highly skilled migrants using a paragraph of the immigration rules designed to tackle terrorism and people judged to be a threat to national security.

Lord Dick Taverne, QC, in a letter to the Guardian, says he will launch a campaign to lobby the Home Office until it ceases turning Theresa May’s “much-vaunted vision of an open Britain into a closed Britain through the heavy-handed and unconscionable use of this controversial paragraph of the immigration rules, which is denuding Britain of those with the special skills our industries need – and doing so in the cruellest of ways”.

Related: A life ‘completely destroyed’ by one paragraph of immigration law

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Democrat McCaskill defends no vote on Trump CIA pick – but can't say why

  • Missouri senator opposed Haspel for ‘classified’ reason
  • Republican Cotton: McCaskill ‘reflexively opposed’ to Trump

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has defended her vote against Donald Trump’s pick for CIA director, but said the specific reasons for it were classified.

McCaskill was one of the few Democrats facing a difficult re-election this fall to oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel, who was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday after a heated debate about her role in the CIA’s torture program.

Related: Facing Trump, a historian appeals to America’s soul: ‘I think we’ll survive’

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The Observer view on the global threat to access to abortion |Observer editorial

Women’s reproductive rights are under widespread threat, not least in America. This is no time for complacency

During his eight years in the White House, one of the themes President Obama frequently reflected on in speeches was the non-linear nature of social progress. “Progress doesn’t travel in a straight line,” he told Rutgers students in his commencement address in 2016. “It remains uneven and at times for every two steps forward, it feels like we take one step back.”

The Observer is the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791. It is published by Guardian News & Media and is editorially independent.

Related: Trump administration to revive Reagan-era abortion ‘gag’ rule

If American women are denied a safe abortion, it will send a terrible moral signal to the rest of the world

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