ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w43

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 21/10/2013

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Official Meetings

Jim Killock and Javier Ruiz met with privacy and free speech organisations at a meeting hosted by Privacy International to discuss our campaigns against mass surveillance, PRISM and Tempora.

Jim Killock also represented ORG at a debate on mass surveillance at UCL on Monday.

Consultations and departments

A full list of open consultations can be found here

CMS Department open consultation on changes to entertainment licensing

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport opened a consultation to make reforms to the Licensing Act 2003 via a legislative reform order. The proposals include:

-the creation of licensing exceptions for schools, hospitals and other areas

-relaxing existing controls for playing recorded music in certain premises.

You can visit the government website for more information and how to submit a response.

Consultation on open-access closing next Wednesday

A consultation for the next Research Excellence Framework (which is to come in use after 2014) is closing next Wednesday 30th October. The four UK higher education funding bodies are aiming to increase the amount of material published in open-access format. The deadline for all responses is at 17:00 next Wednesday and can be submitted online. You can find more information on the consultation on their website.


ISC holding open evidence session with intelligence agencies

The Intelligence and Security Committee will be holding an open evidence session with the heads of the three intelligence services on Thursday 7th November 2013. Those attending are Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ; Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service and Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service.

The heads of the intelligence agencies will be discussing the latest developments and priorities of their organisations. However, because the event will be public intelligence capabilities, techniques, ongoing operations or sub judicial matters, will not be discussed.

The session will be broadcast with a delay of a few minutes on the website. For more information visit their website.

CMS committee hold evidence session for Online Safety

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee is holding a second evidence session on Tuesday 29, for its inquiry into Online Safety. The inquiry was launched on August 2013 and aims to look at: how to protect minors from adult content; preventing abusive and threatening comments on social media and filtering out extremist material. For more information on the evidence session, witnesses and updates, you can visit their website.

Government Bills

New legislation to grant greater coverage freedoms of council meetings

Eric Pickles MP announced today that the Local Audit and Accountability Bill would grant greater freedoms for coverage of local council meetings. The bill, will allow observers to share recordings, blogs and tweets of the councils.

Debates and questions

Question on NHS

Daniel Poulter MP has answered two questions concerning data retention by the NHS Care Records Service. The first question dealt with the option for an opt-out service and the second addressed the issue of including information on sexually transmitted diseases. Addressing the opt-out service, Poulter answered that patients can discuss all options on data retention with their GPs. According to Poulter, the system will not include information on treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. You can view the conversation in full on Hansard under medical records section.

Question on copyright exceptions for private copying

Jo Swinson MP has answered a question on whether audio-visual content will be exempt from a private copying copyright exception. The MP answered that the 'Modernising Copyright' framework, published in 2012, is technology neutral and thus will allow private copying of audio-visual content.

David Willets MP has also answered a question concerning private copying. The question focused on levy schemes introduced in European countries for MP3 players and other copying devices. The levy schemes were introduced to compensate artists for their losses and when asked if the UK will introduce similar schemes, Willets replied that there would be no need, since UK private copying laws are stricter than other European countries and don't, for example, allow the copying of borrowed material from friends or family.

International Developments

Internet Governance Forum 2013 launches in Bali

The 8th Internet Governance Forum GF launched in Bali on Tuesday 22nd October. The general theme for the convention is "Building Bridges- Enhancing Multistakeholder Cooperation for Growth and Sustainable Development". You can follow all latest developments on the forum's website.

Code of conduct for mobile tracking devices announced

In the US, a system called Mobile Location Analytics (MLA) allows stores to track consumers’ visits through their mobile phones. But on Tuesday the Future of Privacy Forum, Sen. Schumer and companies using location analytics programmes agreed on a code of conduct that will ensure certain protection standards to allow consumers to opt-out of tracking systems used by stores. Most notably the code:

• All users of MLA technology should provide clear indication of their practise

• Users will be able to opt-out of the tracking system

• All data will be de-identified and de-personalised unless consent has been provided

Google testing new parental controls

Google has launched a pilot of parental control features for their Chrome browser. The new feature is called ‘supervised users’ and is published in beta form. It will allow parents to block specific sites or only allow a number of pre-approved websites.

European Union

EU Parliament adopts resolution to block EU-US bank agreement

The European Parliament has voted on a resolution to block the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.(TFT) This programme allows the US to access information gathered through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). However, according to revelations made by the Edward Snowden leaks, the NSA has been accessing information without going through the designated legal pathways. Jan Philipp Albrecht, Parliament's rapporteur for the Data Protection Regulation said “The revelations about NSA interception of SWIFT data make a mockery of the EU's agreement with the US, through which the bank data of European citizens is delivered to the US anti-terror system”.

Suspension of the TFT program was first discussed during the third hearing of LIBE's inquiry into PRISM and Tempora, but there was not enough evidence to support claims.

Data Protection voting outcomes

On Monday 21st the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament voted on the recommended amendments for the Data Protection Regulation. The vote was to agree on a mandate for the proposed Regulation, which will be further debated in 'trialogue' negotiations between the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of the European Union.

The committee made some commendable adjustments to the proposed Regulation, but also left some worrying loopholes and problems. The outcomes included:

  • The increase of maximum fines for abuses and breaches of data protection agreements to up to €100 million.
  • Overturning proposals to allow Member States to exempt themselves from rules governing profiling.
  • Making it easier for some types of personal data, such as 'pseudonymous data', to be collected and used without people's consent (article 6 in pdf)

Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights commented on the negative adjustements “If allowed to stand, this vote would launch an 'open season' for online companies to quietly collect our data, create profiles and sell our personalities to the highest bidder”.

US surveillance of France revealed

The US ambassador to France was summoned by French Foreign minister over exposure by Le Monde of extensive interception of phone conversations and text messages. According to the newspaper, during a 30-day period between December 2012 and January 2013, more than 70 million conversations of French citizens were intercepted.

It was noted that those intercepted were not only those suspected of terrorist activity, but also people in business, politics and French administration.

Germany has also summoned the US ambassador after it was revealed that the NSA may have been monitoring German chancellor, Angela Merkel's phone.

Both countries have demanded to have talks with the US over their surveillance programme.

Upcoming Events

See our Events page for a fuller list

13th Annual international copyright law conference

The Annual international copyright law conference will be held on 11-12th December at the Grange City Hotel. The conference will be looking at the legal aspects of copyright issues and the latest developments on international, European and UK levels. Visit their website for more information.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

Staff page