ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w02

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

Greetings, and a happy new year to all. This is the update for the week starting 2013-01-07 - the brief will cover a range of issues, including the work ORG has been doing in the last week. The proceedings from the last week in parliament will also be covered, as will any developments in the EU, particularly regarding the Data Protection Directive. The brief will also cover any issues from the international arena that may be relevant. Feedback is greatly appreciated, so if you see anything that should be in the brief in future, or indeed see something that you deem irrelevant, please email

Official Meetings

Peter attended the latest meeting of the Midata Transmission working group at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on Monday. They looked at how Midata will actually be used by people, and in turn how data can be transmitted in a safe and secure manner.

On Wednesday Peter was in Brussels at the European Parliament, for an NGO meeting about the EU's Data Protection Regulation. They discussed the key fault lines in the current proposals, what lobbying against the proposals looks like, and how to campaign to support the passing of the strongest possible law.

Consultations and Departments

New Minister for IP

Viscount Younger of Leckie is the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with responsibility for responsibility for IP and the IPO. He replaces Lord Marland.

New Permanent Secretary for the Home Office

Mark Sedwill has been appointed the new Permanent Secretary for the Home Office. Theresa May's favourite for the role was reported to be Charles Farr, architect of the Communications Data Bill.

Crown Prosecution Service

"Social media" prosecution guidelines were issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions on 19 December 2012. The Crown Prosecution Service consultation ends on 13th March 2012. The guidelines attempt to limit the scope so that free expression is not unduly affected.

Also see Section 127.

ORG response to Nominet .UK consultation

On Monday Nominet closed their consultation on allowing domains to be registered directly within .uk rather than in Our response, submitted on Monday, argued that these .uk domain proposals are not the answer to the problems identified in the consultation document and put Nominet in an unhelpful role. Read our full response

ORG response to Ofcom's 'white space' consultation

Ofcom were consulting on plans to allow the use of 'white space' spectrum. We welcomed the 'license exempt' approach to white space exploitation taken by Ofcom. But we urged Ofcom to look at the privacy impact of their proposals - something which to date has not been addressed. Read our full response


Culture, Media and Sport Committee

The fifth evidence session of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into support for the creative industries was held on 08/01/2013. Key witnesses included Ian Hargreaves (author of the Hargreaves Review), Richard Hooper and Peter Jenner. A number of issues relating to copyright, such as orphan works and collecting societies, were discussed, as was the Digital Economy Act in the context of digital copyright. Although the transcript of the evidence session is yet to be released, a video can be accessed here.

Government Bills

Communications Data Bill

Theresa May MP has made reference to the progress of the CDB in parliament:

"[T]he report contained a number of recommendations, and we will accept the substance of all of them. We are currently working on the details. This includes talking to the industry, and discussions about the costs started before Christmas. We will obviously look carefully at those discussions, but it would not be right to opine on the question of the costs until we have spoken to all those in the industry that we wish to consult."

Defamation Bill

The Defamation Bill will have its 3rd sitting in the House of Lords Grand Committee on 15/01/2013.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill had its 6th sitting in the House of Lords Committee on 09/01/2013. The next sitting will be on 14/01/2013. A number of amendments have been proposed.

Lord Jenkin of Roding, Lord Clement-Jones, Baroness Buscombe put forward a new clause that would entail the creation of a Director General of Intellectual Property Rights, or "IP Czar". The "need" for an "IP advocate" to co-ordinate IP policy has been a consistent demand of lobby groups including the BPI and FACT in response to the Hargreaves Review, as they have felt that the Intellectual Property Office has been too liberal and insufficiently receptive to copyright lobby groups demands for hardline enforcement and whittling down of copyright user rights.

The proposed powers of the DG would be to:

(a) promote the creation of new intellectual property,
(b) protect and promote the interests of UK intellectual property rights holders,
(c) co-ordinate effective enforcement of UK intellectual property rights, and
(d) educate consumers on the nature and value of intellectual property.
In performing those duties, the Director General must also have regard to the desirability of—
(a) promoting the importance of intellectual property in the UK,
(b) encouraging investment and innovation in new UK intellectual property, and
(c) protecting intellectual property against infringement of rights.

Private Members Bills

Suicide (Prevention) Bill

The Suicide (Prevention) Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 18/01/2013. The Bill's key implication would be to create a 'Notice and Takedown' system, whereby a site could be blocked or taken down completely. The formation of a regulatory authority is being considered as a part of this bill. The Bill can be tracked here.

Debates and questions

On 10/01/2013, Chuka Umunna MP asked

the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
(1) what recent discussions he and his officials have had with external stakeholders on the Midata initiative relating to (a) privacy, (b) data theft and (c) fraud; and whether any concerns relating to the initiative were raised in those discussions;
(2) what steps he is taking to ensure the Midata initiative does not increase the risk of (a) infringements of privacy, (b) data theft and (c) fraud.

Jo Swinson MP answered

The Government has established an overarching board and five consumer protection and trust working groups. The purpose of the groups is to analyse the potential risks of infringements of privacy, data theft and fraud, the suitability of existing safeguards in the range of circumstances that midata creates, and to identify whether any additional safeguards are required. The external stakeholders include representatives of consumer and privacy organisations, the telecoms, energy and financial service sectors, price comparison sites and the Information Commissioner's Office. All of these are assessing the provisions of existing procedures and guidance. The groups will make recommendations by the summer and any new safeguards which are needed will be taken forward as part of the midata initiative. The midata programme is seeking to secure the voluntary release of customer data, in a machine readable electronic format, in some key sectors. The Government intends to table an amendment to the ERR Bill to provide powers to enable regulations to be made should insufficient progress be made on a voluntary basis.

On 10/01/2013

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of legal obligations under UK law on overseas communications service providers to provide communications data to UK public authorities.

James Brokenshire MP answered

We have relationships with overseas providers covering a range of issues. In giving evidence to the Joint Committee on the draft Communications Data Bill on 6 September, a number of providers made clear that they had a healthy relationship with UK law enforcement. We assess that most major overseas communication service providers provide relatively good levels of co-operation and will be ready to discuss our additional requirements under the proposed legislation.

International Developments

Republican staffer fired for suggesting copyright reform

Derek Khanna was fired by the Republican Study Committee after he released a memo that suggested several copyright reforms. He proposed reducing the term of copyright protection, and reining in 'statutory damages.' The memo was immediately attacked by the RIAA and MPAA and withdrawn by the RSC, but attracted positive attention from a number of political commentators and journalists, including David Brooks of the New York Times, who argues that Khanna's memo "differed from the usual lobbyist-driven position" on copyright.

European Union

Data Protection Directive

A new draft of the EU's Data Protection Directive with proposed amendments was released earlier this week. Some of the key amendments put forward include extended territorial scope and whether to implement data protection officers. One key amendment was the withering down of the right to be forgotten. The directive originally implied that an individual could consciously reject their personal data being used. The new draft, however, has placed limitations on this, and a proposed new clause would specify that the processing of personal data that takes place as a result of freedom of expression, the media, or the arts, "within the limits of Union or nation law," would override individual data protection rights. The draft is available here, and more on this can be found on FierceGovernmentIT and the Hunton Privacy Blog.

Free Trade Agreements

The EU and Canada are still discussing the terms of CETA. In the meanwhile, the EU are edging closer to Free Trade Agreements with Singapore and Japan, and are expected to pursue an FTA with the USA in the near future. A working group headed by EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and the US' trade representative Ron Kirk will meet imminently with the view to commencing formal negotiations this year.

Devolved matters

Scotland: Education data sharing, call for evidence

The new Scottish Education Bill proposes data sharing powers:

"Data sharing: to allow Ministers to make secondary legislation to impose a legal duty on relevant bodies to share data with Skills Development Scotland on all young people between the ages of 16 and 24 moving through the learning system to identify those who have disengaged with, or may be at risk of, disengaging with, learning or training."

  • Call for evidence Deadline 18 January 2013. The Committee ask for evidence to be submitted electronically in word format to [1] – limited to around 4 sides of A4 and set out in numbered paragraphs.

A draft response can be found here.

Law and Legal cases

ORG Media coverage

See January press coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

Staff page