ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w41

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 07/10/2013

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Official Meetings

Consultations and departments

New director general of MI5 makes first speech

Andrew Parker made his first speech on Tuesday as the new director general of MI5. He stated that mass surveillance was necessary to prevent future attacks on the UK. His speech has prompted reactions of support and opposition from David Cameron MP, Nick Clegg MP, Alan Rusbridger Guardian editor and the Open Rights Group.

The main messages of Mr Parker's speech were that the UK intelligence agencies must modernise their surveillance methods against increasing enemy threats. On whether this technology is used to spy on the general public he said "We only apply intrusive tools and capabilities against terrorists and others threatening national security.”

David Cameron responded through a government spokesperson that he thought the speech was excellent. When asked if this means the revival of the Data Communications Bill, they responded "the position hasn't changed".

Deputy Prime minister, Nick Clegg said that he has no doubt the information published was going to cause harm. However, he supported a discussion on the effects of mass surveillance on proportionality and transparency.

Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger in an interview for Radio 4 commented that the intelligence services should not be the only voices in the debate and that the Guardian will continue to publish material. He also said that terrorists will have already taken preventative action against government surveillance.

Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock spoke to Sky news about Andrew Parker's speech.

Look at ORG's Mass Surveillance 2013 Commentaries for a more descriptive account.

Open Rights Group publishes open letter to prime minister

As a response to the above developments, ORG and other campaigning organisations have responded to a call by David Cameron to express ideas on the scrutiny of security services. You can view the letter in length here

Launch of National Crime Agency

On Monday the National Crime Agency launched as the replacement of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The decision was made with the purpose of uniting all other crime-fighting agencies to increase effectiveness. Keith Bristow, the Director General of the agency said “The NCA is a UK-wide crime-fighting agency, which will have the capability to tackle serious and organised crime in areas that have previously had a fragmented response”. Their outline on cyber-crime can be found here.

The Agency will operate as a new non-ministerial department, created by the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

National Crime Agency arrests four Britons believed to be involved in Silk Road

The newly established NCA has made four arrests, in Manchester and Devon, of people believed to be involved in the deep web black market, The Silk Road. These arrests come a week after the FBI apprehendedthe suspected mastermind behind the online marketplace, Ross Ulbrich.

The remarks made by the director general of the NCA, Keith Bristow are of particular interest "It is impossible for criminals to completely erase their digital footprint. No matter how technology-savvy the offender, they will always make mistakes and this brings law enforcement closer to them.” The agency was able to make the arrest after they identified significant users of the website, with the assistance of US law enforcement.

Intellectual Property Office consultation "Copyright in Europe"

This Friday the IPO's "Copyright in Europe" consultation closed. Through this consultation, the IPO aimed to develop their thinking on how best to respond to the copyright debate, and involved them bringing together "a number of questions on the European copyright framework and areas that have been highlighted by the European Commission for further action."

You can read Open Rights Group's submission on the website.

London School of Economics Media Policy project, criticise 'Supporting the creative industries' report.

LSE's Media Policy project have released a paper criticising last week's report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Their key messages include:

  • Challenging the creative industry's claim that there has been a significant reduction in overall revenue caused by individual copyright infringement. They argue that as physical record sales have dropped, the sale of tickets for live shows, festivals and merchandise have been the drive for revenue and not a copyright-based business model.

Music industry commentator Mark Mulligan responded to the LSE report on his blog. As reported last week, Open Rights Group responded to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee report last week.

Nominet has launched a review on domain name censorship

Nominet has launched a review into whether they should censor domain names. As the company operating .uk and domain registries, their policy has been to practise no censorship on domain names and to settle complaints through a dispute resolution service. A blog post by John Carr commenting on the existence of porn websites ‘under Britain’s name’ has prompted the debate. Nominet is looking for comments by the public. You can submit yours through this online form.


Report supporting stricter counter-terrorist measures

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a report on the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. The report welcomes proposals made by the bill to take on stricter counter-terrorist measures such as the search and questioning of travellers in airports without reasonable suspicion. However, it calls on a reasonable suspicion threshold to be introduced for more intrusive powers such as those suggested under chapter 4 of the bill.

Chapter 4 suggests the authority to search, copy and retain data on personal electronic devices. You can find this full section of the report here on page 37.

CMS committee accepting oral evidence on Online Safety inquiry

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday 15th October, will be accepting oral evidence for their inquiry into Online Safety. Witnesses include, Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive, Internet Watch Foundation; John Carr, Secretary, Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety and Peter Davies, Chief Executive, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

The inquiry is for the Online Safety Bill, currently considering amendments before the final stage of Royal Assent. More information on the inquiry can be found here. Versions of the bill and its progress can be found here.

Domain Seizure by PIPCU

The recently launched Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has asked for the seizure of a domain name, without following due process.

Government Bills

Private Members Bills

Proposed bill to end unsolicited telephone calls and text

A bill proposed by Mike Crockart was read for the first time on June 19. The bill aims to end unsolicited phone calls and text messages. This would require the reconsideration of how contact information is shared, giving regulators more power to deal with companies that break the rules concerning use of private details. The bill is scheduled for a second reading on Friday 1 November.

Debates and questions

Answer concerning the removal of harmful content online.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Conservative Whip of the House of Lords, answered Lord Moonie's question concerning how many websites the government has asked ISPs to shut down concerning illegal, immoral and security threat content.

Lord Taylor replied that action by the Internet Watch Foundation led to the removal of 9,550 child sexual abuse web pages around the world. He emphasised that there is a very clear process by the UK to remove such content and that the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit has asked ISPs to remove content without needing to recall section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

International Developments

Alliance for Affordable Internet partners with UK Aid, Google and Facebook to spread internet access to the world.

The founder of the world-wide web Tim Berners-Lee, along with partners in the private and public sectors (including the UK's and US development agencies) have formed the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI). The Alliance aims to “make universal access a reality” by focusing on making the internet affordable to billions of people and achieving the UN Broadband Commission Broadband targets. They aim to achieve this by advocating for policy reform, research and knowledge- sharing. The primary obstacle is the high cost of broadband access that is caused by anti-competitive policies. For example, in Mozambique, 1GB worth of data can cost over two-months' worth of wages. The Alliance seeks to implement the UN Broadband Commission's price target of a basic broadband connection staying bellow 5 per cent of monthly income.

Industries should focus on increasing server security, making it free and default system, says Intel president

Renee James, the president of Intel said during a McAfee event that businesses should make security systems more accessible and possibly pre-installed (rather than being an opt-in choice). In her own words, "We believe that raising the base line of security to a level where at very minimum everyone is protected is not an opt-in any more." James is concerned that the increasing use of smart devices by businesses are making it easier for hackers to enter their systems, as they have more entry-points.

Tight surveillance during Russian winter olympics

Both spectators and athletes attending the winter olympics in Sochi, in Ferbruary, will have all their information monitored extensively. According to information obtained by a team of Russian investigative journalists, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has been working to modernise and extend the capabilities of Russia's interception system, Sorm, across the country since 2010. ISP companies are required to install Sorm boxes by law, which allows the FSB to access data without the service providers knowing. The system also makes use of deep packet inspection technology, allowing the security services to track down individual users based on keywords used.

Since 2012, there have been efforts to make free wifi available at all major olympic and media venues and media hotels. However, since April 2011 most telecommunications companies have adapted to new rules made by the FSB to disable encryption on all wifi networks sent to all wired network segments. In addition, a recent proposal by the Russian Ministry of Communications has suggested a new set of regulation for ISPs that will allow the interception of major western based servers (such as gmail and yahoo).

Due to recent developments restricting LGBT rights, it is speculated that Sorm will primarily be used to prevent the organisation of rallies and protest of pro-rights individuals and NGOs.

Earlier in the year, the US state department's bureau of diplomatic security, advised caution to anyone travelling to the Games in leaflets published.

The report by Russian investigative journalists can be found here.

European Union

LIBE committee has launched investigation into PRISM

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) have launched an inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens. The inquiry will comprise of a series of hearings, the list of which can be found here.

Upcoming vote on the Data Protection Regulation

The LIBE Committee of the European Parliament are due to vote on their opinion about the draft Data Protection Regulation on 21st October. In the next week the rapporteurs will be discussing the remaining issues over the next two weeks.

This week EDRi published introductory guides to the issues, which are available from their website.

Open Rights Group will be asking supporters to contact members of the LIBE Committee next week.

Free Trade Agreements

Devolved Matters

Law and Legal Cases

Privacy not Prism legal challenge reaches fundraising target

The Open Rights Group along with Big Brother Watch, English PEN and Constanze Kurz launched a legal challenge last week against the UK government over mass surveillance allegations.

We can announce with great pleasure that the fundraising target was reached within two days. If you still want to contribute to additional legal costs, you can visit Privacy not Prism to donate and stay up to date with all developments.

ECHR ruling on offensive anonymous comments

A judgement by the European Court of Human Rights, may threaten the ability to post anonymous comments. In 2006, an Estonian website called Delfi, published a news story criticising an Estonian ferry company. Due to the offensive nature of the comments and the fact that they were posted by anonymous users, Delfi was found responsible for defamatory comments by an Estonian court. The case was then redirected to the ECHR.

There is now concern that websites will remove the ability post anonymous comments over fears they will be held accountable.

ORG Media coverage

The Executive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, gave an interview to sky news on Wednesday 9 October to discuss PRISM, Edward Snowden and Tempora.

He will also appear on BBC news tonight to discuss mass surveillance.

2013-10-03 - Guardian - GCHQ faces legal challenge in European court over online privacy

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

Staff page