ORG parliamentary and policy update/2012-w51

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

Updates for the week starting 2012-12-17

Official Meetings

Peter Bradwell met Ofcom to discuss their White Space (ie, open wireless frequencies) consultation.

MP visits

ORG supporters met MPs on Monday, while others are making appointments for their constituency surgeries.

CMS Committee

Peter Bradwell will be appearing for ORG at the CMS Committee in January.

Consultations and Departments

Home Office: Comms Data Bill

Following the highly critical report, Dominic Raab MP and 40 Conservatives wrote to the Home Secretary this week to outline the barriers to their support for a future Communications Data Bill. Civil society groups wrote an open letter asking that the Home Office not run another process to tidy up the Bill. The wider questions of online surveillance should be opened up, and such an inquiry should be in someone else's hands.

BIS response on copyright flexibility

Vince Cable MP gave a policy briefing on securing growth through Intellectual Property. Cable said that "making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense. Bringing the law into line with ordinary people’s reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely. We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators.” This stance mirrors that of the Hargreaves Report. The Government believe that it could contribute £500m to the British economy over 10 years.

Major changes include copyright exceptions for format shifting, parody and non-commercial text mining, plus expansions to exceptions for research and education. Importantly, the government has rejected the idea of levies to "compensate" rights holders for "losses" from format shifting, and says that format shifting rights should apply to personal use of services offering cloud storage of files.

Cable also announced enforcement measures targeting file sharers via an Intellectual Property Crime Unit within the City of London Police. Exactly what is intended is not yet known.

National Pupil Database

ORG submitted a response to the Department for Education National Pupil Database consultation. The consultation says:

"The data held includes detailed information about pupils’ test and exam results, prior attainment and progression at different key stages for all schools in the state sector in England. Attainment data is also held for pupils and students in non-maintained special schools, sixth-form and FE colleges and (where available) independent schools. The NPD also includes further information about pupils in the state sector and non-maintained special schools such as gender, ethnicity, first language, eligibility for free school meals, information about special educational needs (SEN) and detailed information about pupil absence and exclusions."

"The proposed amendments would allow the Department for Education to share extracts of data for a wider range of purposes than currently possible. This will enable researchers, educators, professional bodies, the voluntary sector, consultants, education publishers and developers, the media, and other commercial or non-profit organisations to go further in producing research, publications, advice or applications useful to families, education, business and the wider public and help stimulate the market for services underpinned by the data. As under current arrangements, selected data would only be released subject to a robust approval process and with strict terms and conditions on data security, handling and use."

ORG and others, including FIPR, have objected to the use of pupil data in this way through untested, non-public "anonymisation" techniques.

FCO agrees with censorship technology export controls

In the official FCO response to the Foreign Affairs Committee's report into the FCO's work in 2011, the FCO replies to the Committee's recommendation that the Government "set out the scope for controlling the supply by UK nationals, or by companies based in the UK, of telecommunications equipment for which there is a reasonable expectation that it might be used to restrict freedom of expression on the internet." (Paragraph 117)

The FCO responded that "the Government is committed to working with international partners through the mechanism of the Wassenaar Arrangement in order to agree a specific control list of goods, software and technology".

DfE Child protection

Further news on the response to the DfE consultation. A statement from David Cameron in the Daily Mail appears to imply tougher measures than originally suggested last week. Claire Perry MP - the strongest Parliamentary advocate of default network filters, which were apparently rejected - is to head the implementation process.


Culture, Media and Sport Committee

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee held another evidence session on 18/12/2012 on "Support for the creative industries." Witnesses included representatives from Facebook and Google.

Government Bills

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was subject to a line-by-line examination on its 5th day in the House of Lords Grand Committee. A number of amendments were discussed, however not on copyright. The bill continues in the committee stage on 09/01/2013.

Debates and questions

BIS: Oral Questions, 20 December

Vince Cable MP answers questions from John Whittingdale MP on copyright reform. Whittingdate asks:

Is he concerned that many in those [creative] industries feel that the Government, on the back of the Hargreaves report, will dilute their intellectual property rights, not least in the area of exceptions to copyright law?

Cable replies:

The hon. Gentleman is right that the creative industries sector, which is crucial to the economy, depends heavily on intellectual property rights. However, we are dealing with a body of law that is extremely old—I believe that it goes back to Queen Anne. It certainly needs modification in the digital age. He is right that we need to move extremely carefully. That is why, over the last few weeks, we have been in discussions on some of the sensitive issues in relation to copying music and photography. When he studies the report in the Library, he will see that we have got the balance right between rights holders and liberalisation.

Health data: Written Answers, 21 December

David Davis MP asks about the wider use of clinical data; Daniel Poulter MP responds:

"Clinical data and linked data, in a research-usable, anonymised format, is made available via the CPRD to a wide range of researchers for use in approved research projects. These research projects meet the needs of medicine/device regulators and as well the needs of commercial companies required under regulations to undertake specific research studies. … The anonymised data is published against a specific independently approved protocol written by researchers who are under legal contract to CPRD for access to the required dataset for each research study protocol."

International Developments

Do Not Track: F2F meeting

W3C have announced that the next face to face meeting discussion of the DNT signal will be 11-13 February, Cambridge MA. The process has gone through a rocky patch but seems to have settled somewhat. Both US FTC and EU Commission officials are backing the initiative to signal consent or non-consent to tracking by advertisers and others.

UN, ITU, Civil Society & the Internet

Following the UN ITU Conference in Dubai earlier this month, the role of civil society has been played up by a UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue. Frank La Rue stated that civil society participation is essential to ensure legitimacy of global discussions on the future of internet.

European Union

ACTA referral rejected

It now seems as if ACTA is finally dead in the EU. The European Commission withdrew its referral of ACTA to the European Court of Justice. However. this does not that single member states will not pursue ACTA, and it could still be that ACTA forms some of the provisions in CETA

Copyright consultations

The EU has announced a round of stakeholder discussions on the future of copyright, in relation to "cross-border access and the portability of services; user-generated content and licensing for small-scale users of protected material; facilitating the deposit and online accessibility of films in the EU; and promoting efficient text and data mining for scientific research purposes".

They aim for discussions in 2013 to result in voluntary, industry-led "rapid progress" in these areas. In parallel, possible legislative proposals are being developed for 2014. The process involves three Commissioners, Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services), Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth). Barnier has been a copyright hardliner, while Kroes has been more liberal.

Data retention will be referred to the ECJ

The Austrian Constitutional Court has decided to ask the European Court of Justice if the Data Retention Directive is compatible with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, reports TechWeekEurope.

Ireland's courts are also asking for the ECJ to rule on the Directive, after a challenge from Digital Rights Ireland.

Law and Legal cases

Director of Public Prosecutions: Section 127a guidelines

The Director of Public Prosecutions has published 'interim guidelines' for Crown Prosecution Service social media prosecutions including the use of Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. These attempt to limit the usage of Section 127, to cases which go beyond those which are "offensive, shocking or disturbing; or satirical, iconoclastic or rude; or the expression of unpopular; or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it".

They have been welcomed by Article 19 who however caution that the effect of the guidelines must be seen in practice first.

Pirate Bay block

The Pirate Bay: the Pirate Party UK have rescinded operation of their proxy after the threat of legal action from the BPI.

Golden Eye NPO

Court of Appeal judgment was published on 21st. The court found in favour of GEIL.

ORG Media coverage

See December press coverage for full details.

2012-12-21 - Independent - Filth and fury: David Cameron’s U-turn on online porn
2012-12-21 - ISPReview - UK Court Allows Golden Eye’s Appeal for More O2 Internet Piracy Letters
2012-12-21 - TechWeekEurope - Government Announces ‘Common Sense’ Copyright Law Reform
2012-12-21 - Metro - Copying CDs to iPods to become legal under copyright law shake-up
2012-12-20 - TechWeekEurope - Cameron’s Christmas Cock-up On Porn Blocking
2012-12-20 - IT Pro - Confusion reigns over Government porn blocking plans

ORG contact details

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