ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w42

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 14/10/2013

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Official Meetings

Jim Killock met with Tom Watson MP and Julian Huppert MP to discuss the lack of open Parliamentary debates on PRISM and Tempora.

Javier Ruiz met with officials from the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to discuss the inclusion of patient data in the forthcoming UK national plan for the Open Government Partnership. ORG is against personal information being included in open data policies. The UK is hosting an international summit of the Open Government Partnership at the end of the month, where ORG will be running a workshop on transparency, privacy and mass surveillance.

Consultations and departments

A full list of open consultations can be found on the ORG wiki

Surveillance camera conference

On 23 October, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner will be holding a free one-day conference. The event will be looking at the introduction of a CCTV Code of Practice and its effect on the police and the wider community. Speakers will include Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. You can visit their event page for more details, registration form and how to attend.


Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing bill entering House of Lords

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill had its third reading on Tuesday thus completing all stages in the House of Commons. On Wednesday the bill had its first reading in the House of Lords and will have its second on Tuesday 29 October.

The bill includes amendments to the Terrorism Act 2000 with Chapter 4 allowing authorities to search, copy and retain data on personal electronic devices.

ISC launches inquiry into the extent mass surveillance

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has announced that they will launch an inquiry into the extent of mass surveillance. Unlike other investigations conducted by the committee, this one is to take place publicly. The purpose of the inquiry is to look at legislation allowing security and intelligence agencies to access content of private communications and to determine whether the relevant Acts of Parliament are up to date with current technological capabilities.

Nick Clegg MP has welcomed the inquiry saying "I think it is entirely legitimate to ask ourselves whether the oversight arrangements – the way in which we make sure the agencies, who by definition have to work in secret, do so in a way which is accountable."

Hazel Blears MP a senior Labour member of ISC, welcomed the inquiry and noted that wherever the information wasn't classified, it should be discussed in public.

Top web firms call on UK to increase transparency

Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Twitter have written a joint memo to the UK government calling them to increase transparency and publish their requests for personal data, and not to introduce new legislation affecting communications data.

Public Administration Select Committee accepting evidence

The Public Administration Select Committee will accept oral evidence on Tuesday 22 October for their inquiry into Statistics and Open Data. The witnesses are Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Chair, Open Data Institute and Stephan Shakespeare, Chief Executive, YouGov. You can fine all information on the bill and relevant updates on the inquiry's website.

Culture, Media and Sport Committee hear evidence for Online Safety Inquiry

The Committee heard evidence on Tuesday from John Carr, (Secretary, Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety), Claire Lilley, (Senior Analyst, NSPCC), Anthony Smythe, (Managing Director, Beatbullying); Susie Hargreaves, (Chief Executive, Internet Watch Foundation) and Peter Davies (Chief Executive, Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre).

A video of the meeting is available from the Parliament website. A transcript will be available from the Committee website soon.

Debates and questions

Prime minister calls select committee investigation into Guardian publications

During prime minister’s questions, David Cameron MP has asked a commons select committee to investigate whether the Guardian’s publications on UK and US mass surveillance operations, have broken the law or harmed national security. He said "The plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security”. However, he did not answer calls by Julian Smith MP, for a “full and transparent assessment” police investigation into the Guardian publications.

Nick Brown MP and Lord Blencathra criticise government over Prism.

Nick Brown MP former Labour cabinet minister has said that the PRISM and Tempora programmes are very similar to propositions made in the Communications Data Bill (also known as the Snooper’s charter). The bill was halted last spring after opposition from the Liberal Democrats. The minister’s protest was that the intelligence services have implemented a programme that not only hasn’t been authorised by parliament, but a programme that was blocked by parliament.

These comments echo those of Lord Blencathra in saying that PRISM is similar to propositions of the communications bill. He also said that parliament should be able to approve or disapprove such programmes and the public has a right to know if their information is being monitored. Lord Blenchartha also said that when he was leading an inquiry into the draft Communications Data Bill, the committee was not informed about surveillance programmes.

International Developments

UK to co-host Open Government Partnership Summit 2013

The Open Government Partnership Summit will be held on 31 October and 1 November, to discuss ways in which the government can become more transparent and open. The partnership was launched in 2011 to create an international platform for those who seek to make their governments more transparent, accountable and responsive to their citizens. Each of the 60 countries participating are asked to compile a list of their priorities to achieve the goal of openness. Included in the UK’s priorities is open data; how to open up “government data to boost entrepreneurship, economic growth and accountability”. The Summit’s complete agenda can be found online.

Governance bodies reassert independence of the Internet from governments

The Internet Society published a joint statement at Montevideo with other agencies, including the the IETF and W3C. They warned against the consequences of mass surveillance, acknowledged the need to decentralise ICANN and perhaps move it away from US contractual control, but also to continue with the multi stakeholder approach to Internet governance.

William Hague speech to Seoul Conference on Cyberspace

William Hague MP, spoke at the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace on Thursday 17th. He called for an international consensus on the future of the internet, stressing the need for an ‘open and borderless’ cyberspace. He spoke of a divide in the international community between countries that want to support the openness of the internet and those who want to be in complete control over its content and resources.

He said that the challenge would be to “ingrain norms which govern state behaviour online and support our collective security, while upholding the values of openness and freedom which have been integral to the success of the internet and are our core values as democratic nations”. The speech in full has been published on the government's website.

European Union

Draft regulation on protecting European data transfer to third countries

The European Parliament has agreed on a compromise draft that will protect European data. Currently, American companies operating in the EU, transfer information on customers within the EU to third countries. The new regulations would make those companies compliant to European law rather than allow them to choose between European and American court orders, as is currently the case.

The regulations are also seeking to increase the current fines for those breaking the rules since it doesn't have much effect on large American companies such as Google and Yahoo.

The European Parliament will vote on the draft regulations on Monday.

LIBE committee to vote on data protection mandate on Monday

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has scheduled to have a vote on the reports for the Data Protection Regulation on Monday 21 October. The purpose is to adopt a mandate for their negotiations with the Council of the European Union so that the General Data Protection Regulation can be agreed on before the European elections in May 2014. All latest developments can be found on the committee's website.

Law and Legal Cases

Federation Against Copyright Theft introduce new measure to deal with copyright infringement

The Federation Against Copyright Theft has started tracking down those who host websites that make protected content available online. One of the tactics is to visit the home of the person hosting the website, hand them a cease and desist order and ask for the ownership of their domain rights.

UK government accused of monitoring emails between lawyers and clients.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) is looking into allegations that the UK government has been looking at the emails between lawyers and their clients in a rendition case against them.

In 2004, eight Libyans were kidnapped on British territory by MI6 and US intelligence and sent back to Libya. They are suing the government on the grounds of kidnapping and torture.

However, lawyers working with human rights organisation, Reprieve, say that their case has been compromised because confidential correspondence with their clients is being monitored. Evidence for this lies in the documents published by the Guardian, which reveal US and UK intelligence services mass surveillance programmes.

The monitoring of ‘legal professional privilege’ breaches Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees “the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” “There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety(…)the prevention of disorder or crime”.

European Court of Justice rules for more transparent legislative processes

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has made its final ruling in a case about wider transparency by the Council of the European Union. In a case brought to the court by Access Info Europe, the motion looked to overturn the Council’s ability to keep secret the identities of Member states making negotiation proposals on future EU legislation. Access Info Europe was also joined by the European Parliament in their referral of the case to the ECJ.

This judgement will allow the general public to have greater access to EU legislative processes and will give national governments the ability to exercise greater scrutiny.

ORG Media coverage

2013-10-16 - RT - CrossTalk Internet captured
2013-10-16 - Voice of Russia - NSA snatching your contacts off the wire
Summary': comments from Jim Killock regarding the capture of "buddy lists" by the NSA
2013-10-15 - S4C - Taro 9 - Bwlio ar y We
Summary: includes Jim Killock talking about online bullying at around 21.30 minutes. (Cymraeg, English subtitles)

You can go to ORG Press Coverage for the rest of October's coverage.

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