Google Earth’s Newest Feature: Time-Lapse Back 37 Years

Google Earth has recently added an exciting, new feature to its system that allows users to go back 37 years in time and have a look at how the Earth has changed. Debuting in April 2021, this is the biggest update that Google has added so far, and took more than two-million hours for computers to complete. The images collated essentially form one large video – and it is believed to be the biggest video the Earth has ever seen!

The equivalent of more than half a million 4K high-resolution videos, the new time-lapse feature enables users to go as far back as the 1980s. Considering the size of the project, Google would not have been able to complete the new feature without help from its space agency partners including NASA, the US Geological Survey’s Landsat Project and the EU’S Copernicus project. Unlike Google Maps which is more focused on transportation and getting people around, Google Earth is geared towards geology and exploring how the Earth’s landscape has changed over time. The time-lapse feature spans seven decades and shows the effects of climate change and human contribution to the Earth – it’s consequences and achievements alike. From the sprawling city of Dubai to the melting of glaciers, the new feature aims to raise awareness about climate change and could even become a tool in classrooms for students to interact with. In a statement about the feature’s ability to capture the effects of climate and environmental change, Google stated that, “”We have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips – one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerisingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades.”[1]

The time-lapse feature is an impressive addition to Google’s renowned systems and houses a surprising amount of historical data. It comes at a time when climate change and environmental issues are starting to be taken more seriously and more companies veer towards a greener future.


Amazon – What do they say about you?

With Amazon’s profits more than tripling in the first three months of 2021, it is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent restrictions has led to an increase in reliance on orders from the online retailer. It is now, therefore, more important than ever to understand the data published for an Amazon account, and how this can be amended to suit privacy preferences.

Here is how you view the information published on your profile through a computer:

  • Log into your Amazon account.
  • Click ‘All’ on the menu bar.
  • Within ‘Help & Settings’ select ‘Your Account’.
  • From the list below ‘Ordering and Shopping Preferences’ select ‘Profile’.
  • You will now be on your own unique Amazon profile, where all the information published on your account will be displayed.

And here is how to view it on a mobile phone at :

  • Log into your Amazon account.
  • Click on the three lines in the top left corner.
  • Within ‘Help & Settings’ select ‘Account’.
  • Within personalization select “profile”.
  • You will now be on your own unique Amazon profile, where all the information published on your account will be displayed.

And now to edit your information:

  • Follow the above instructions to find your profile.
  • Click the orange box marked ‘Edit your public profile’.
  • On the page ‘Edit public profile’ you can change your public name, as well as optional details such as a bio, occupation, website, location, and links to any other social media accounts. All information on this page will be made public.
  • On the page ‘Edit privacy settings’ you can select whether other information including reviews, who you follow, any badges obtained, and active wish lists are to be made ‘Public’ or ‘Private’. If selected to be public, these details will appear within the ‘Insights’ table on your profile. There is also an option to ‘Hide all activity on your public profile’ if you seek complete privacy.

Amazon state on their website that this data is used to make shopping on Amazon more ‘convenient’ and their products ‘better’, adding that the protection of their customers’ privacy and the security of such data is a top priority for the company.

So go take a peek at what Amazon says about you.

Proactive ways to increase your productivity wherever you work

Even with schools opening, whether you work remotely or at the office the issue of productivity still lingers. It is one of the key skills employers look for; it directly correlates with high performance. Outside of work productivity can boost your self-esteem and make you feel satisfied with goals you have achieved. Maintaining a productive attitude from 9 to 5 seems draining and impossible but by implementing a few new habits you could see a change. From our research here are our top recommendations for increased productivity which include:

Start the day right

As soon as you wake up, set yourself a mini challenge. This could be anything from a gentle yoga flow to making your bed in the morning. It may seem small, but this little achievement will set the right tone for the day and inspire you to take on all the challenges ahead of you. You could even take a “moment out” before you start work to set your intentions for the day: what you hope to achieve, your goals and priorities. By starting on a positive note you will be more motivated to stick to future tasks and mini challenges will help test your productivity on a daily basis. Plus, you will now be ready to eat an amphibian!

Eat that frog

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Mark Twain’s infamous line has been given a modern redo with many interpreting the line to mean, “get the worst task done first.” It is easy to leave the challenging jobs last but by training yourself to push through and get them done first you are more likely to increase your productivity for the rest of the day. Productivity relies on prioritisation and if you are procrastinating at work this approach could be useful in helping you get the most important tasks done first. You are also more likely to feel energised and motivated after pushing yourself, thereby setting the right tone for the day.


Scientific evidence shows a direct link between stress and productivity; the more stressed you are, the less productive you will be. When we worry we tend to overthink and focus all our energy, both positive and negative, into our worrying. In turn this takes away from the tasks at hand. Stress is unavoidable but by identifying your triggers you will be better able to come up with viable solutions to keep it under wraps. Outside the workplace consider a relaxing hobby like yoga, Tai Chi or meditation to help you de-stress so you can feel more energised.

Good sleep and diet

It is a “no-brainer” but so few people actually put it into practice. Our physical state has a direct impact on our mental health and if you are always tired at work the last thing you feel like doing is being “productive.” Fuelling up on carbs and sugary foods will also cause a spike in energy with a slump later in the day making you even more lethargic. Without proper rest and a balanced diet you will be unfocused at work and the effort you put into tasks will likely be minimal. Challenges are hard enough, so give yourself a helping hand by improving your physical health. If stress is keeping you awake at night consider meditative practices like writing, drawing or yoga. Practice discipline when it comes to snacks and think about packing your own lunch; this way you will be less tempted by what is on offer at your local eatery.

Have a release (outside of work)

Be sure to give yourself regular breaks – in and out the office. Schedule time outside your workday to do something you love, or you risk burnout. It is important to challenge yourself and get the job done but carving out “me time” is just as needed. By taking time away from work you are more likely to return with a clearer, sharper mindset and might even have a fresh perspective on a project. With business we are required to focus on numbers and performance that we often forget about our own well being – and burnout is often the result of pushing too hard. You might think you are testing the limits or getting more work done but without regular breaks your productivity will eventually be sapped.

The evidence is:

Productivity enhances performance, making us feel motivated and more satisfied with the outcome of our tasks. By being more conscious of your procrastination triggers, health and priorities during the day, you will be one step closer to harnessing the full potential of this skill.

© Whitestone Chambers 2020

Beware Cookie Law

Websites that use cookies to track users and their interactions will have to pay close attention to the recent case of Bundesverband der Verbraucherzentralen und Verbraucherverbände — Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband eV (the ‘Federation’) v Planet49 GmbH (‘Planet49’) Case C‑673/17, 1 October 2019, which clarifies the indication the user must provide as to their consent to the use of cookies.

Planet49 organised a promotional lottery accessed via a website. If users wished to take part in this competition, users were required to enter personal details such as their name and postcode on the website. The user was also presented with two boxes to check. The first box one was unchecked and required the user to check it to enter the competition, this would also allow certain sponsors and corporate partners to contact the user. The second box was pre-checked and if this approval were not removed it would allow multichannel retargeting company Remintrex to evaluate the user’s use and behaviour through the use of cookies.

With reference to EU Directives 95/46 and 2002/58, the court was asked to provide a preliminary ruling as to whether “the consent referred to in those provisions is validly constituted if, in the form of cookies, the storage of information or access to information already stored in a website user’s terminal equipment is permitted by way of a pre-checked checkbox which the user must deselect to refuse his or her consent”. Additionally, the court was asked to consider EU Regulation 2016/679, (the ‘GDPR’), on a ratione temporis basis, as the German Court previously stated that it may be applicable to the main proceedings.

Recital 17 of Directive 2002/58, provides examples of a user’s consent being validly given, for example, ‘by ticking a box when visiting an internet website’. EU Directive 95/46 Article 2(h) then specifies the user’s consent as ‘any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes, and as per Article 7, the consent must be given unambiguously.’ In this instance the court determined that “only active behaviour on the part of the data subject with a view to giving his or her consent may fulfil that requirement.” After the entering into force of the GDPR, the data subject’s consent has been defined further in Article 6(1)(a) as requiring a ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” indication of the subject’s consent, and Recital 32 precludes “silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity” from constituting consent.

As a result of the court’s ruling, a website using a pre-checked box to act as consent to the use of cookies on the user’s terminal before 25 May 2018 would be in breach of EU Directive 95/46; as of 25 May 2018, Directive 95/46 has been repealed and replaced by the GDPR meaning that any breach after this date would be a breach of the GDPR rather than the Directive.

Interestingly, what the court was not asked to give an opinion on was whether the user’s consent was ‘freely given’ as set out by Article 2(h) of EU Directive 95/46, and Articles 4(11) and 6(1)(a) of the GDPR. The very important question still remains as to whether consent is freely given if the user must allow the use of cookies to enter the competition, or in a wider context, to enter a website.

© 2019 Whitestone Chambers

Lawfulness of bulk hacking powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016

This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Corporate Crime on 20 August 2019. Click for a free trial of Lexis®PSL.

Corporate Crime analysis: Adam Richardson, barrister at Whitestone Chambers, considers the most recent judicial review challenge brought by Liberty concerning the lawfulness of the bulk hacking powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA 2016).

R (on the application of National Council for Civil Liberties (Liberty)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and another (National Union of Journalists intervening) [2019] EWHC 2057 (Admin), [2019] All ER (D) 02 (Aug)

What are the practical implications of this case?

As the claimants effectively lost the case, the existing regime vis-a-vis IPA 2016 still stands—arguably even more firmly than before. As such, there will be no new practical implications to consider other than those already created by IPA 2016. The largest concern for lawyers has to be the effect on legal professional privilege (LPP). Ever since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA 2000), there has been a question of a surveillance authority legally acquiring information that is the subject of LPP. This goes against years of convention protecting privilege, however RIPA 2000 remained silent on the topic. When IPA 2016 was first drafted, the Bar Council raised explicit concerns about the erosion of LPP through either a failure to distinguish between privileged and non-privileged communications (as a result of bulk hacking) or the power given to authorities to monitor ‘sensitive, highly confidential communications that have nothing to with criminality, national security or threats to individuals’.

The government listened and added a few additional safeguards for privileged information. A warrant would be required to be issued for the interception and review of information that is subject to LPP. The authority issuing the warrant must have regard to the ‘public interest in the confidentiality of items that are subject to legal privilege’. Further, IPA 2016 also requires public interest, necessity and prevention of death, or serious injury conditions to be satisfied before such a warrant can be issued.

Needless to say, this is a very high bar. There can be no getting around that as a result of bulk hacking, privileged information will be intercepted if only through inadvertence. Given the number of practical and operational issues raised by the claimant in the case, this should be concerning at best.

The claimants have made clear they intend to appeal this, and it may end up in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) where there may well be a different view taken, so, until all appeals are exhausted on this matter, no position is settled.

What was the background?

The High Court’s judgment in Liberty, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Another is the second iteration of the issues raised on this claim. See R (on the application of the National Council for Civil Liberties (Liberty)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and another [2018] EWHC 975 (Admin), [2018] 3 WLR 1435, , [2018] All ER (D) 129 (Apr), where the court gave judgment on the first part of the claimant’s challenge to IPA 2016. That challenge was brought under EU law. It only concerned IPA 2016, Pt 4 (regarding powers to require the retention of ‘communications data’), as this part had just been brought into force. The court found in that judgment that IPA 2016, Pt 4 was incompatible with human rights law and gave the government until 1 November 2018 to redraft it, which it duly did.

In the instant judgment, the court was concerned with the second part of the claimant’s challenge, which arises under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998). This challenge concerns various other parts of IPA 2016, which have now been brought into force on various dates.

The claimant challenged four different sets of provisions in IPA 2016. What they all have in common is that they concern bulk powers, rather than powers which are directed at any particular individual who may be a potential subject of interest (sometimes called targeted surveillance). The relevant provisions are as follows:

  • IPA 2016, Pt 6, Ch 1—which relates to bulk interception warrants
  • IPA 2016, Pt 6, Ch 3, and IPA 2016, Pt 5—these concern warrants for bulk and thematic equipment interference. The claimant has described this in its submissions as ‘hacking’
  • IPA 2016, Pt 7, which relates to warrants for bulk personal datasets (BPD)
  • IPA 2016, Pt 6, Ch 2, and IPA 2016, Pt 3–4—respectively warrants for bulk acquisition of communications data and retention notices for, and acquisition of, communications data. Communications data is not the content of communications but other matters such as where, when and who

The only remedy which the claimant sought was a declaration of incompatibility under HRA 1998, s 4.

A very simplistic summary of the claimant’s case is that the minimum safeguards established by the ECHR for secret surveillance regime were not met. As not all human rights are absolute, certain breaches may only take place where they are in accordance with law or necessary for a democratic society. The claimant submitted the measures in IPA 2016 were neither necessary nor proportionate.

What did the court decide?

The court went to great pains in this judgment to be as comprehensive as possible. The judgment itself is almost 400 paragraphs long (excluding accompanying legislation) and gives an incredibly detailed overview of the law. While the claimant was able to bring to light shocking examples of government data use, including data being lost in ungoverned spaces without the necessary controls, among others, the court still found that IPA 2016 was not incompatible with HRA 1998. Among the extensive reasoning is that the mechanisms for oversight within the legislation itself, such as the establishment of the office of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner (to conduct independent oversight of spy agencies’ use of the powers), provide sufficient checks on the risk of abuse. The court dubbed the regime as ‘a suite of interlocking safeguards’.

The court spoke specifically of Parliament’s consideration for the fears about abuse expressed by the claimant but noted they chose to address those in IPA 2016 through those various interlocking safeguards mentioned.

Interviewed by Alex Heshmaty.

Does Social Media = Jail Time?

Fraudulent litigants be warned!

Have you been entirely truthful? If not, you may fall foul to your own Social Media history!

The recent Court of Appeal judgment in Zurich Insurance PLC v David Romaine, [2019] EWCA Civ 851 (CA), makes it clear that committal proceedings can be brought against a litigant whose Social Media activity, in this case a Facebook account, reveals dishonesty.

The claimant issued personal injury proceedings against his former employer for noise induced hearing loss relying on a medical report which stated that he; ‘had not had any noisy hobbies’. The appellant solicitors commissioned an ‘intelligence report’, in which the claimants Social Media history was inspected, revealing that he was a motorbike enthusiast and performed in a live rock band. This was served. Tactically, the claimant discontinued his claim and the appellant issued committal proceedings. At first instance Goose J found that despite a contempt, it was not in the public interest for proceedings to be brought in circumstances of discontinuance at an early stage and dismissed the appellant’s application. The matter went on appeal, consequently the Court of Appeal granted permission for committal proceedings to be brought.

LJ Haddon-Cave stated; “a message needs to go out to those who might be tempted to bring – or lend their names to – fraudulent claims: that dishonest claimants cannot avoid being liable to committal proceedings merely by discontinuing their original fraudulent claim”.

It is now clearer than ever that:
• Electronic evidence is and will become vital in cases, to establish the merit of a litigant’s case. The inspection of such, ought to be an additional step for legal professionals and will become key part of the preparation process for litigation.

• Over the past decade Social Media has changed how we communicate and share information about ourselves and our lives. It is a treasure trove of evidence in the public domain. This is easily accessible and not exempt from the eye of the law. Any assertion in evidence and conduct of parties, can be proven or unproven by gathering evidence from Social Media platforms to form an ‘intelligence report’, which in light of this recent judgment, will most likely become commonplace.

• Discontinuance under part 38, cannot be used by a claimant as a tactic to ‘wind up’ a claim, without adverse repercussions, in circumstances where there is clear evidence of untruths, particularly, from social media posts and in response to part 18 questions or in their witness statements.

• Committal proceedings should be considered in cases of fraudulent conduct.

© 2019 Whitestone Chambers

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere. It is a celebration of women’s rights. The first International Women’s Day gathering was in 1911 and was supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

It is difficult to say when International Women’s Day began. It can be traced to 1908, when over 15, 000 women marched in New York City demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours. In 1910, Clara Zetkin, leader of the women’s office for the Social democratic party in Germany proposed the idea that every country should celebrate on the same day ‘Woman’s Day’.

It was a time when, in the UK, woman weren’t actually considered to fall under the category of ‘people’ by the legal profession. In 1913 In Bebb v The Law Society, the Court of Appeal ruled that women could not be solicitors. Section 2 of the Solicitors Act 1843 provided that “No person shall act as an Attorney or Solicitor […] unless such Person shall after the passing of this Act be admitted and enrolled and otherwise duly qualified as an Attorney or Solicitor, pursuant to the Directions and Regulations of this Act.” Gwyneth Bebb had applied to the Law Society to sit preliminary examinations, with a view to becoming a solicitor to which she had been refused. In summary the verdict was, no woman had ever been a solicitor before so, clearly, the Act wasn’t intended to include women. Lord Justice Swinfen Eady concluded that ‘if there is to be any change from the ancient practice, it is a change which must be effected by Parliament, and the law must be altered’. Thankfully, there has been great changes from the position in 1913 re-enforced by the Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

Eliza Orme was the first woman to gain a law degree in 1888 but at this time females were still not allowed to be admitted as solicitors. Only in 1919 did the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act come into force amending the Law with respect to disqualifications on account of sex, letting woman become lawyers. Dr Ivy Williams was the first woman to be called to the Bar in 1922. She joined Inner Temple as a student in 1920. Dr Williams never practiced, but she was the first woman to teach law at University. Helena Normanton became the first woman to practise as a barrister in England. At first her application to Middle Temple in 1918 was refused, but after the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act came into force, she was admitted to Middle Temple in 1922.

International Woman’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women can be recognised for their achievements in economic, legal and political spheres. The world can appreciate the significant changes in women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality. Great improvements have been made but a lot more remains to be done.

For more information, please visit

Whitestone Chambers ©
8 March 2019

Welcoming 5G this year.

Brand new technology is arriving on our door step. From brick phones to smart phones to wireless technology we are now embracing the fifth-generation cellular, known as 5G.

The new innovation will drastically affect other devices, such as security cameras, industrial robots, drones and cars that communicate traffic data.

5G will override the looks of 3G and 4G, by allowing people to download digital media, including whole movies, in seconds. The new market creation will revolutionise video games, sports, shopping and social media, by taking digital media to a whole new level.

What is 5G?

Essentially 5G defines the incoming of a mobile cellular network together with radio performance, computer components and antennas covering radio signals and exchanging data. To benefit from 5G, users will need to purchase new mobile phones.

The speed of 5G is dependent on your location and your mobile cellular.

Qualcomm, a wireless component creator, has said after complete testing the 5G download speed is 4.5 gigabits per second. Median speed is indicated as approximately 1.4 gigabits per second. Fast paced 5G will vastly increase the speed of video streaming.

5G has been designed with the view to reduce latency to milliseconds as well as being a reliable source for sending out signals.

When is 5G coming?

T-Mobile will be rolling out 5G in 30 Cities in the US by the end of 2019. First, they will be launching 5G in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas. Meanwhile three telecom companies in South Korea have launched a 5G servicing for manufacturing clients on December 1st, 2018.

EE has successfully completed a 5G trial in the UK.

When shall I buy a 5G smartphone?

It is suggested to wait until late 2019 or even 2020 to purchase a 5G handset. In a future article we will set out what 5G enable phones will be on the market in 2019. As regards iPhone users, Apple have not yet selected a 5G modem supplier hence the first time iPhone will come with 5G is in 2020 when the iPhone 12 is released.

© 2019 Whitestone Chambers

Posted by Adam Richardson.

As 2019 starts up – Whitestone looks back at the top stories of 2018.

  1. Apple and Samsung’s ongoing legal battle is over.
    A legal battle that nobody thought would ever end. Eventually both tech companies settled out of court after arguing all the way up to the supreme court for seven years. The dispute was over ‘stolen tech’.
  1. Supreme Court weighs in on location data.
    The Supreme Court ruled that if your past location data needs to be accessed, the law enforcement must attain a warrant. Prior to this, authorities were able to retrieve the data from a third party with access to that data.
  1. The death of Stephen Hawking.
    Stephen Hawking died at his home in Cambridge on 14/01/2018. He died at 76 after having suffered from Motor Neurone Disease. He was a remarkable physicist and an author.
  1. 2018 World Cup winners.
    France won the World Cup 2018 final in a six-goal battle against Croatia. France last won in 1998, when they hosted their winning tournament. England had a successful but ultimately disappointing tournament losing out in the semi finals to Croatia.
  1. A Royal wedding.
    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on 19/05/2018. 29 million viewers watched the wedding.
  1. Salisbury poisoning.
    An ambulance found an ex Russian spy and his daughter severely ill on a bench in Salisbury. It has been said they were poisoned by a nerve agent in an attack by the Russian State. Their condition was critical for weeks, they have been since discharged and now they live in a secure location.
  1. Iceland ensures equal pay for men and women.
    Iceland became the first nation to make paying men more than women illegal. Passed on Women’s Day the year earlier, the bill makes it mandatory for companies employing 25 or more workers to pay men and women equally.
  1. Last male northern white rhinoceros dies.
    Sudan died at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Now only two female species remain they are his daughter and granddaughter. There is no hope for more of the spices, unless alternative IVT techniques are developed.
  2. Thai cave rescue comes to successful end.
    Members of a junior football team were found trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai Province. The incident happened due to heavy rainfalls. However they were safely rescued 18 days later. The Elon Musk story will rumble on in 2019.



How ‘common’ is your ATM pin?

It is a common fact that people are naturally bad at selecting tedious and obscure personal identification numbers (PIN). The most common PIN is the staggeringly predictable  ‘1234’.Whilst that is bad, the list of top 15 most common PINs is also an obvious read.

Top 15 pins;

  1. 1234
  2. 1111
  3. 0000
  4. 1212
  5. 7777
  6. 1004
  7. 2000
  8. 4444
  9. 2222
  10. 6969
  11. 9999
  12. 3333
  13. 5555
  14. 6666
  15. 1122 (

Yet people still think they have a ‘tough enough’ PIN, despite most people’s being entirely guessable. The percentage of PIN hacks has increased in 2018 by 12% leaving it at 54%.. Let’s hope we can reduce this percentage in 2019.

So, how to come up with a good PIN? First tip, avoid all the choices above! Pick something slightly more mysterious. For example the year or date of a memorable trip you took, the year a particular country  won the world cup, the last four digits of your work/mobile number or even your childhood home phone number.  Choosing the most obvious PIN is problematic for bank cards, phones, computers and even PIN locks. It is common knowledge now that people tend to use memorable dates backwards, so this should also be avoided.

So, be smart, be creative and stay safe.