This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 2013-04-08
Peter Bradwell was in Brussels for the first half of this week. Alongside representatives from fellow digital rights groups Privacy International and Bits of Freedom, he was discussing the proposed Data Protection Regulation in meetings with MEP's including Sarah Ludford MEP, and with the European Commission
Jim Killock participated in two meetings related to press regulation proposed in the Crime and Courts Bill; a meeting organised by Article 19, and a round-table meeting at DCMS at which we asked them for their legal advice on a small business exclusion.
On Thursday Jim Killock and Javier Diaz travelled to Brussels to meet with other european campaign groups about Data Protection Regulation.
Culture, Media and Sport Committee
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee is conducting evidence gathering sessions on the 16th April concerning the regulation of the press. Witnesses include the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller MP, Oliver Letwin MP and Harriet Harman MP
Amendments to the Defamation Bill have been tabled by Edward Garnier MP for debate next Tuesday, which would remove several of the protections that would have been granted by the current bill. The Libel Reform Campaign have called for people to contact their MPs to reject these amendments.
Debates and Questions
Press: Regulation Question
Glyn Davies MP: To ask the secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under what circumstances the blog of an hon. Member would be subject to the provisions of the new press regulation system.
Ed Vaizey MP, in response, stated that:
"As Leveson recommended, and in line with the cross-party agreement on 18 March, the Government will be establishing a system of exemplary costs and damages to create an incentive for the press to take part in the new self-regulatory system. The clauses being introduced to the Crime and Courts Bill are to give effect to this new system and include a definition of 'relevant publisher'; groups such as lone bloggers and tweeters would not be expected to join the self-regulator. This means that single-person blogs, such as the hon. Member's 'A view from Rural Wales', would not be affected. In recognition that people have been seeking clarification on how the legislation could apply to small-scale bloggers, the Government has made clear that a period of reflection will now be undertaken in order to consider whether or not there is a need for further amendment."
Communications Data Bill (Draft) Question
Naomi Long MP: To ask Secretary of State for the Home Department what filtering arrangements the Government intends to propose in its revised draft Communications Bill.
James Brokenshire MP, in response, stated that:
"The draft Communications Data Bill allowed for a Request Filter, which would enable authorised agencies to make a single, inquiry to obtain communications data that could currently only be obtained through multiple requests to different providers. Requests through the filter will be governed by safeguards in the legislation and a programmed set of rules. We believe the filter to be a safeguard on the acquisition of communications data, as it will limit the collateral intrusion and the data not relevant to an investigation that might be returned to an investigating officer. The Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill recognised these benefits, stating that:
‘the Request Filter will speed up complex inquiries and will minimise collateral intrusion’
(paragraph 126 of their report).
The Government has accepted the substance of all the Joint Committee's recommendations and will bring forward a revised Bill at the earliest opportunity."
Naomi Long MP: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she intends to take to ensure that all data held under the provisions in the revised draft Communications Bill will be protected and secure.
James Brokenshire MP, in response, stated that:
"The Government already has a long history of working with communications service providers to ensure that communications data retained under obligation are kept safe.
Notices issued to communications service providers to generate and retain communications data will detail specific implementation requirements on them. The providers will be required to ensure these are met so that data retained under this legislation are protected against accidental or unlawful destruction, accidental loss and unauthorised access or disclosure. Legislation will make explicit that all communications data retained by service providers under the legislation will be destroyed after the 12-month retention period (unless required for legal proceedings).
It is the duty of the Information Commissioner to keep under review the performance of any duties placed on communications service providers relating to data security and integrity."
Google refuses DCMA take down requests for DCMA take down requests
As part of its transparency policy, as Wired states "Google publishes every takedown notice it receives from either copyright holders or government bodies." These takedown requests, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests require service providers "to remove or disable access to allegedly infringing material upon receiving a request that meets certain requirements".
According to TorrentFreak "several copyright holders including 20th Century Fox and NBC Universal have sent google takedown requests asking the search engine to take down requests they themselves sent." Google receives roughly 20 million "takedown" requests...a month." which are all published online.
Fears have been expressed concerning availability of these DCMA requests resulting in "the largest database of copyrighted material" which may only take "one skilled coder to index the URL's from the dcm a in order to create one of the largest pirate search engines available." according to BBC News "By making the notices available, Google is unintentionally highlighting the location of allegedly pirated material, say some experts."
At the centre of this is Chilling Effects, "a joint project of several law school clinics, including Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and the George Washington School of Law" which analyses copyright removal requests.
Privacy concerns following Facebook's release of Home
According to BBC News Technology Facebook's Home software for Android could "destroy" privacy. Unveiled on 4 April "home takes over the lock screen and main display turning it into a live feed of information, notifications and images Facebook users are sharing.", once installed on a mobile. Om Malik, the founder of Gigaom has expressed concerns over the "always on" nature of "home" being a '"route to gathering data about users that would otherwise be hard to find."
EU Open Data Law
An EU council committee, according to The Verge "has voted in favour of a new Open Data law that will see European countries sharing data freely across borders." Following on from the European Commission's 2011 press release "Digital Agenda: Turning government data into gold" launching an Open Data Strategy "expected to deliver a €40 billion boost to the EU's economy each year" the committee, as techcrunch states "has endorsed plans to modernise the 2003 public information directive to make all non-personal sector info available for reuse." As the Commission states:
"Once fully implemented into national law, the revision of the 2003 Public Sector Information Directive would make all generally accessible (that is, non-personal) public sector information available for re-use. Developers, programmers, businesses and citizens will be able to get and re-use public sector data at zero or very low cost in most cases. They will also have access to more exciting and inspirational content, for example including materials in national museums, libraries and archives."
The next stage in the process will be "for the European Parliament to approve the new rules."
Law and Legal Cases
Paris Court of Appeal: Copyright and Parasitism
The Paris Court of Appeal handed down a ruling involving a dispute between Troy Henriksen and Corinne Dalle Ore after the former accused the latter of, according to The 1709 Blog producing work that "was disturbingly similar to his own." Henriksen:
"brought suit for infringement of copyright and parasitism (the latter being a legal characterisation akin to unfair competition and based on the general tort of negligence under Section 1382 of the French Civil Code)."
The court, while agreeing with both counts, found in favour of the plaintiff "on grounds of parasitism but rejecting the claims in copyright infringement." The Court found that the "impression of proximity" between the two works "did not constitute a reproduction within the meaning of copyright law." The Court awarded Henriksen €5,000 in damages.
ORG Media coverage
See ORG Press Coverage for full details.