ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w44

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 28/10/2013

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Official Meetings

On Tuesday, Jim Killock spoke at a Westminster Forum event about the Government's digital strategy for the UK's communication sector. On Friday, he spoke on the "Government Open and Shut: Transparency, Privacy and Mass Surveillance" panel at the Open Government Partnership Summit.

Peter Bradwell was in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday attending the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue conference, where he spoke about copyright and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, looking at lessons to learn from ACTA. On Wednesday Peter chaired a session at the Open Government Partnership Civil Society Day, discussing difficult issues faced by the open government agenda.

Consultations and departments

A full list of open consultations can be found here

Nominet consultation on domain names, closing on Monday

Nominet's consultation on domain name registries is closing on Monday 4th November. The review aims to look at what words and expressions should be allowed in .uk domain names. To submit contributions, you can use their online form and also look at their website for more information.

Open Government Partnership Summit

The Open Government Partnership was hosted in London this week to discuss ways in which the government can increase transparency and openness.

Today ORG curated a panel on "Government Open and Shut: Transparency, Privacy and Mass Surveillance". The panel discussed the consequences of government transparency on their surveillance programmes. ORG's Executive Director, Jim Killock's held a talk entitled "presentation of civil society surveillance principles".

UK report on data capability strategy

During the summit the UK also published a report on data capability strategy titled ‘Seizing the Data Opportunity: a Strategy for Data Capability’. This aims to:

  • build capability in the commercial, academic and public sector
  • strengthen skills focused at schools, higher and further education
  • continue professional development
  • ensure that the UK’s infrastructure and R&D environment supports improved data capability

The strategy was created in partnership with industry and academia and seeks to provide the framework for the UK data capability. The strategy can be accessed on their website.


Culture, Media and Sport Committee Online Safety Inquiry

The Committee held its second oral evidence session on Tuesday, hearing from Stella Creasy MP, Nicholas Lansman, Secretary General of the Internet Service Providers’ Association; Dido Harding, Chief Executive Officer of TalkTalk Group; Hamish Macleod of the Mobile Broadband Group and Jim Gamble, Independent Chair, City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Board.

You can watch a video from the session at the website.

Debates and questions

Debate on 'oversight of intelligence agencies' in Westminster

On Thursday 31 October, Westminster Hall hosted the first debate over the oversight of the intelligence agencies. The debate was requested by ORG Advisory Council members Tom Watson MP and Julian Huppert MP and conservative MP Dominic Raab. ORG published a briefing to MPs on issues that should be discussed.

The debate can be streamed on Parliament's website. You can also view ORG's coverage of the debate on our blog.

Question on cyberbullying

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked a question on government measures to tackle cyberbullying. Lord Nash answered by listing the current legislation: The Protection from Harassment Act 1972; The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994; The Malicious Communications Act 1984; The Communications Act 2003.

He added "The Government does not intend to introduce specific additional legislation to address the issue of cyberbullying (...)The Government has taken, however, steps that will help schools combat cyberbullying and is working with internet providers to address the wider issues."

Question on cyber-security protection for small businesses

A question was asked about the dedication of resources for the protection of small businesses against cyber-crime. According to government figures, 87% of small business faced cyber security breaches, yet more than four-fifths of the government budget is directed toward intelligence agencies, big businesses and government. Francis Maude MP replied that the UK has one of the best protections against cyber-crime and are working toward improving their capabilities.

International Developments

European Civil liberties committee in Washington over phone-tapping discovery

From the 28th-30th October, a special committee from the European Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs was in Washington to discuss the recent revelations that the NSA monitored the phone calls of 35 European leaders. The committee held conversations with the State Department, Congress and intelligence agencies.

President Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have denied any knowledge of the phone monitoring.

Claude Moraes MEP, the rapporteur of the European Union's investigation into mass surveillance said the phone monitoring was "an extremely important issue of trust between the European Union and the United States."

Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee unveils new NSA reform bill

Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed a bill today to reform the National Security Agency. The bill will entrench the NSA's capabilities to keep all phone records kept by U.S telecoms.However, the bill does not stop the NSA from weakening encryption systems or prevent them from hacking into data centres of Google and Yahoo.

NSA chief might downsize agency's operations

NSA chief Keith Alexander has indicated that perhaps the NSA should scale back their powers following this weeks developments mentioned above. He said speaking in Washington “I think in some cases the partnerships are more important".

First Bitcoin ATM opens in Vancouver

A coffee shop in Vancouver is housing the first Bitcoin ATM. It was announced that a further four kiosks will become operational in December accross Canada. The virtual currency has not been recognised as an official currency in Canda and so is not monitored by Ottawa's anti-money laundering watchdog, meaning that there is less stringent oversight.

Law and Legal Cases

Court orders ISPs to block 21 websites

Following an application by the British Recorded Music Industry(BPI) a court order was issued for ISPs to block 21 torrent websites that offer access to copyrighted material. The BPI chief said "We asked the sites to stop infringing copyright but unfortunately they did not and we were left with little choice but to apply to the court".

Upcoming Events

See our Events page for a fuller list

Parliament and Internet Conference

The eighth annual Parliament and Internet Conference was held on Thursday 31st October at the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House. Sessions included "Communications data, surveillance and privacy" and "What are the key issues facing the governance of the internet and how will these affect the UK going forward?". For the schedule in full, visit their website.

You can watch videos from the conference from their live stream page and read tweets using #piconf13.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

Staff page