ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w04

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is the update for the week starting 2013-01-21.

Official Meetings

Jim Killock met with Philip Davies MP about the Communications Data Bill and spoke at the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday about child protection and Adult content filtering regulation. Peter Bradwell attended the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels.

Consultations and departments

Ed Vaizey: Communications Bill

Ed Vaizey MP made a speech at the Oxford media convention (January 23, 2013) that the government intends to push for Adult content filtering regulation in the Communications White Paper due this spring. The clear implication is that ISP-level network filtering will be mandated to be on by default. "We are working with industry to implement our new system, where every parent will be prompted to protect their child online. Protection will automatically be on if parents don't make choices."

Speech by Francis Maude at the Spring 13 Government Digital Showcase Event

On 21 January, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude (Horsham, Conservative) gave a speech detailing the Government's plans for a greater use of digital technology. He said that "we [the Government] are catching up with the private sector, with plans to build simple, fast, cost-effective online services that are designed around the user's needs." He also proclaimed that "the digital transformation has begun." He continued by stating that "in the future, like the best businesses, we are committed to delivering services online wherever possible, to cut costs and put our customers in control" and noted that citizens now expect services to be available online. Mr Maude did not announce any new scheme during his speech.

Open Data User Group against the privatisation of the Postcode Address File

ODUG is asking for comments on their recommendation that in the event of the Royal Mail being privatised the Postcode Address File should not be placed into private ownership. They have published a paper with international examples which illustrate some very good reasons why national addressing data – a natural monopoly – should be owned and maintained as a public asset – so we can ensure its reliability and availability for all to use.


Culture, Media & Sport Committee

Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into support for the creative industries (held on 08/01/2013)

On 22 January, Jim Killock and Peter Bradwell, along with Jeremy Silver of Semetric Limited gave evidence on the session entitled 'support for the creative economy'. (video)

Jim and Peter explained some of the problems with the Digital Economy Act and its evidence base. They explained that consumer perceptions of copyright had changed, and that they needed certain rights such as format shifting. They were questioned in some detail by Ben Bradshaw MP who attempted to demonstrate that ORG was not taking enforcement seriously and had inconsistent views on the damages from copyright infringement. ORG replied that government needed to establish their own evidence, rather than replying on industry evidence with undisclosed methodologies. They replied that enforcement was best done through promotion of legitimate services and that enforcement targeted at individuals was difficult and inaccurate.

This was followed by Owen Atkinson of the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society Ltd, Richard Mollet of the Publishers Association and Chair of the Alliance for Intellectual Property and Lavinia Carey from the British Video Association.

Government Bills

Defamation Bill

It was announced that the Lords Report Stage of the Defamation Bill will take place on February 5 2013.

Electoral Registration and Administration Bill

The final reading of the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill took place on the 23rd of January. The Bill involves the removal of the annual canvas, requiring all individuals to register, and compiling lists based on data matching with other databases.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: "I have to say that, on the balance between privacy and transparency, I am increasingly a Maxtonite. I believe that we are heading towards a society that will benefit from greater transparency and in which a sense that every bit of privacy we give away is a threat to our individual existence will not be acceptable."

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Measures outlined in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill have been criticised by a number of major media companies. According to Olivia Solon at, "The International Media and Archive Consortium -- comprised of The Associated Press, Getty Images, Reuters, British Pathé, The Press Association and the Federation of Commercial and Audiovisual Libraries -- believes that the economic arguments for reform are not strong enough and that the proposed changes may not be subject to sufficient democratic scrutiny."

Committee Stage

The next committee stage of the Bill will be held on the 28 January 2013 when further amendments will be discussed.

Private Members Bills

Suicide Prevention Bill

The Suicide (Prevention) Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 01/02/2013. The Bill attempts to put in place ISP blocking measures for suicide related content.

Supermarket Pricing Information Bill

The Supermarket Pricing Information Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 01/02/2013. The bill proposes that pricing information be made available as Open Data.

Debates and questions

Algeria: Oral Answers to Questions

On Oral Questions on Algeria, Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about cyber-security.

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife, Labour): I am sure that the whole House welcomes the Prime Minister’s new focus on cyber-security and other defence interests, but will he confirm whether these investments will be met from existing budgets or he is proposing new money for the Ministry of Defence?

David Cameron (Witney, Conservative): I am afraid that there is not new money available to the MOD. However, the decision we made in the strategic defence and security review was for hundreds of millions of pounds to be spent on cyber-security, and that was new money—investment that was not taking place previously. Also, the priority given to things such as special forces and some key intelligence assets was, in effect, new investment to make sure that our forces and our national security are correctly aligned with the threats that we face.

Culture, Media and Sport: Written Answer on Internet

A written question was sent to Maria Miller from John Robertson (Glasgow North West, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 8 January 2013, Official Report, column 213W, on internet, what steps her Department is taking to increase internet take-up in (a) Glasgow North West, (b) Glasgow, (c) Scotland and (d) the UK.

In reply, Nick Hurd (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, Conservative) wrote back: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Cabinet Office. The Government is committed to making public services available online. In support of this, the Government Digital Service within the Cabinet Office works with Go-ON:UK, a new charity created to build on and take forward the work started by Race Online 2012. The Government continues to commit resources to meeting these aims through its Government Digital Strategy.

Transport: Written Answer on Unmanned Air Vehicles

In Transport Questions Jim Shannon (Strangford, Democratic Unionist Party) posed this question to the Minister: "To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department's policy is on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to take photographs and conduct surveillance in the UK."

Simon Burns (Chelmsford, Conservative) responded: "The Government recognises the potential of unmanned aircraft systems, now referred to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), in a variety of civil applications, particularly in crisis management situations. The ability to stay on station for prolonged periods of time with cameras and other sensors without the need to refuel or consider pilot fatigue makes them ideal for monitoring disaster and security events or for other environmental applications, such as crop and vegetation monitoring. Police forces, fire services and a growing number of farmers are all showing an interest in operating RPAS. However, we recognise there are some concerns from the general public about the use of RPAS in urban areas, particularly in relation to privacy and data protection. Operators are required to take into consideration European and national legislation, such as the Data Protection Act and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, when conducting operations and ensure that data is managed sensitively and securely in accordance with these rules. We do not believe that any additional regulatory changes are needed to ensure adequate privacy and data protection."

International Developments

Korean Peninsula Debate

Regarding cyber-security, a debate in the House of Lords was held on the Korean Peninsula. During this debate, Lord Triesman (Labour) referred to cyber-attacks: "There is the threat of spreading nuclear weapons, as noble Lords have mentioned, to rogue states, terrorists and non-state actors. There are the alleged cyber-attacks, denied by Pyongyang, on civil aircraft GPS guidance, although I think there is probably reasonable evidence that it happened. The sequence of provocations cannot be in any sense accidental."

European Union

New French Government Proposals

According to Arstechnica, "if a new French Government proposal is implemented, tech companies earning money in France would pay new taxes based on how much personal data is collected from their users." The article goes on to note that "France has floated a proposal that would impose a new tax on the collection of personal data as a way to counter tech companies' tendency to legally move money around Europe - between Ireland, Bermuda and the Netherlands. Google, for example, despite an estimated $2 billion in ad revenue in France, pays almost no taxes in the country.

European Parliament IMCO vote on data protection

On Wednesday, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) voted in favour of relaxing the European Data Protection Regulation (DPR) proposals.

According to LQDN, the committee "chose to water down the protection of citizens' privacy, by, among others, allowing easier profiling of users by companies, or softening obligations of notification of personal data breaches. Most attempts to impose safeguards against the processing, storing and selling of our personal data, were rejected."

The committee is the first of five committees to vote on the Data Protection Regulation proposals.

EU: Trade Agreements

In the House of Lords, Lord Stoddart asked: "To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint on 8 January (WA 28-9) concerning European Union trade agreements, whether a written brief outlining United Kingdom requirements from an European Union-Singapore Free Trade Area was submitted to the European Commission before the commencement of negotiations; and, if so, what are the details of that brief."

In response, Lord Green responded: A written brief outlining the United Kingdom's priorities from a European Union-Singapore free trade area was submitted to the European Commission on 15 February 2010. This brief detailed the UK's primary and secondary interests.

The brief outlined five primary priorities, namely: increased opportunities in financial services and other services sectors (legal, insurance, architecture, engineering, telecommunications, health, distribution, automotive, photographic and packaging, rental and leasing); mutual recognition of qualifications; increased opportunities of procurement in goods and services; liberalisation of rules of origin; and the liberalisation of environmental services.

The brief outlined an additional six secondary priorities, namely: liberalisation of all remaining applied tariffs, protection of intellectual property rights; standardisation; protection and enforcement of geographical indicators (agricultural products), sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures (the removal of regulatory barriers to food imports): and a clear linkage between the FTA and the partnership and co-operation agreement.

Law and Legal Cases

DDoS convictions

Individuals convicted of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers, under section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 in engaging in DDoS attacks against websites in retaliation against the WikiLeaks "financial blockade". On Thursday Christopher Weatherhead, 22, of Northampton, and Ashley Rhodes, 28, of Camberwell, London, were jailed for 18 months and seven months respectively.

ORG Media coverage

See January press coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

Staff page