ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w26

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 24/06/2013

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Official Meetings

Meeting on PRISM in Parliament

On Thursday, Tom Watson MP hosted a very well attending meeting in Parliament on PRISM with Caspar Bowden, Simon McKay and David Davis MP to discuss PRISM and Tempora, and the legal background. It was covered in the Guardian, PC Pro and V3.

Staff meetings

Jim Killock met David Davis MP on Monday, to discuss surveillance. On Wednesday he met with other campaign groups to discuss PRISM and Tempora. Javier Ruiz attended an Open Data conference in Uruguay where he presented a paper on Open Data and privacy.

Consultations and departments

GCHQ taps into global telecoms network

On 21 June the Guardian reported that GCHQ has "secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic", processing these vast streams of personal information and sharing it "with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA)". According to the Guardian:

"The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate."

One key innovation, an operation codenamed "Tempora", has resulted in the ability to store large amounts of data gained from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days in order to be sifted and analysed. The operation, as v3 reports, has been running for 18 months with the scope of data collection "likely to be on an unprecedented scale." As a result CGHQ and NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communication between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects:

"This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet users access to websites - all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets."

The existence of the programme, disclosed "in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden", has been labelled "the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history".

In response to these developments Liberty has announced it has issued a claim against the British Intelligence Services "over their suspected involvement in the PRISM and Project Tempora privacy scandal." Liberty will ask the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) whether the British Intelligence Services have used PRISM and/or Tempora to bypass the formal UK legal process which regulates the accessing of personal material. Alongside this Liberty has "issued a claim in the IPT, contending that rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (the rights to respect for one's private and family life, home and correspondence) have been breached." Concerns have also been raised over whether:

"the British Intelligence Services have used PRISM and Tempora to evade legal checks and balances and monitor people in the UK. They may be treating internet communications as international rather than domestic to evade closer scrutiny and receiving material from their US partners to evade scrutiny altogether."

ORG responded by pointing out that senior politicians must have been misleading the public, that this was doing damage to the Internet economy and the UK's reputation.

Government Bills

Intellectual Property Bill

Line by line examination of the Intellectual Property Bill took place on 18 June. According to the progress of the bill "Report stage - further line by line examination of the Bill - is yet to be scheduled."

Debates and questions

Children: Internet and Mobile Phones Question

Lord Storey: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how will they ensure that children are taught about the potential dangers of the internet and mobile phones, with specific regard to (1) cyberbullying, (2) grooming, (3) pornography, and (4) sexting.

Lord Nash, in response, stated that:

"Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), the Government is working with law enforcement agencies, the internet industry, children’s charities and other experts to ensure children and young people are taught about how to stay safe online.

As part of the Government’s reforms to the national curriculum, we will be strengthening the requirements to teach e-safety as part of changes to the new computing programmes of study. From September 2014, children in key stages 1 and 2 will be taught about using technology safely.

The Government take all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying very seriously. Every school must have a behaviour policy which includes measures aimed at preventing all forms of bullying among pupils. Many charities and organisations such as Childnet International and Beatbullying, provide excellent educational resources to schools, pupils and parents. The Beatbullying CyberMentors programme, funded by the Government, enables children and young people who are being bullied to seek support from other young people who have been trained and volunteer their time to help victims of bullying.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) have set up the award-winning “ThinkUKnow” programme, which aims to reduce the harm caused to children through the misuse of technology to sexually abuse or exploit them. Over 2.6 million children have seen the ThinkUKnow resources.

Schools can use Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) to teach children about the dangers of pornography should they choose, and we trust in the professional judgement of teachers to do so appropriately. SRE is compulsory in maintained secondary schools and although primary schools do not have to teach it, many choose to do so in later years.

UKCCIS and its members are working to improve the awareness and understanding of children and young people’s online behaviour and the potential risks. CEOP and Childnet International both have specific programmes on the issue of sexting, which are extensively used by schools."

Children: Internet Question

Tim Loughton MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether his Department will continue to be the lead Department on child internet safety.

Mr Timpson, in response, stated that:

"The Department for Education currently provides the Secretariat for the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, the board of which is chaired by Ministers from the Department for Education, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office. Child internet safety is a cross-Government issue which Ministers will keep under review to determine how it can best be addressed."

Local government

Payday loans websites blocked by Haringey council

Haringey council has banned access to payday loan companies' websites from its entire network "in a bid to protect residents from the pitfalls of excessive interest rates". As the Guardian reports the ban means that "users of around 3,700 computers in libraries, community centres and other council buildings will not be able to load the websites of the biggest 50 payday loan firms in the UK."

Councillor Joe Goldberg stated that the council wanted to encourage residents to use the Haringey, Islington and City Credit Union instead of going to lenders that charge interest rates often in excess of 4,000% APR.

International Developments

Armenian parliament approves changes to copyright law

On 20 June the Armenian parliament approved amendments to the law on copyright which "envisage reference to the source of information when publishing materials taken from newspapers, magazines and internet portals." According to the 1709blog the changes:

"stipulate that mention must be made of the original source of information in newspapers and magazines and there must be an active hyperlink in internet articles. The law will also define a limit on what can be taken and used."

Buzzfeed sued by photographer over "copyright breach"

Buzfeed, known for aggregating images from other sources, is being sued by a professional photographer over claims it has breached his copyright. As the Guardian reports:

"The professional photographer, Kai Eiselein, filed a legal claim against Buzzfeed after finding his picture had been used without permission in a comic compilation of football mishaps."

In a lawsuit filed in New York, Eiselein accused Buzzfeed of "direct and contributory infringement" and claims he is owed up to "$3.6m after his work was shared widely across the web." In Eiselein v BuzzFeed lawyers for Eiseleen have argued that Buzzfeed is "unequivocally responsible both directly and indirectly for all subsequent infringements" because it published the original article". If the claim is successful, Buzzfeed is "likely to find itself open to lawsuits from other photographers whose work has been used without permission on its site."

European Union

Google news in Germany Opt-in only

Beginning on August 1 Google news in Germany will only index sources that have decided to explicitly opt-in to being shown on the search giant's news-aggregation service. This change, following on from the passing of a new copyright law, means that "the company is in danger of having to pay newspapers, blogs and other publishers for the right to show even short snippets of news."

Publishers will now have to go into Google's news tools page in order to agree to be indexed. According Techcrunch:

"Many of Germany's publishers had hoped to force Google to pay a licensing fee for their content, but today's announcement does not even mention this. Instead, Google notes that it is saddened by the fact that it has to make this change."

Law and Legal Cases

EU rules Google not obliged to delete personal data from search index

On 25 June the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Google is not obliged to delete sensitive information from its search index. In its case Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-131/12 Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González, as v3 reports "google and other search engines are not subject to privacy requirements under current European data protection law."

The EU ruing was made as a recommendation to the Court of Justice by advocate general Niilo Jääskinen "as part of a case brought against Google by a Spanish citizen who wants potential harmful search results on his name removed from its index." However it was held that the "Directive does not establish a general 'right to be forgotten'. Such a right cannot therefore be invoked against search engine service providers on the basis of the Directive,”.

French Supreme Court ruling on initial ownership of copyright

In a ruling dated April 10, 2013 the French Supreme Court held "that the issue of initial ownership of the copyright in a work is to be determined, in accordance with article 5.2 of the Berne Convention, under the law of the country where protection is being sought (and not the law of the country of origin of the work). According t the 1709blog "it remains to be seen whether this latest judicial pronouncement is really definitive" or whether lower courts will continue to apply a country of origin approach.

Full ruling (in French) available here.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

Staff page