ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w45

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 4/11/2013

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Official Meetings

Peter Bradwell met with Google on Tuesday to discuss how they deal with reports of controversial content.

Consultations and departments

A full list of open consultations can be found here

Uncorrected evidence for Online safety inquiry

Uncorrected oral evidence from last Tuesday 29 has been published on the government website. The inquiry conducted by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee aims to examine ways of protecting minors from accessing adult content, filtering out extremist material and preventing abusive or threatening comments online. Witnessess include Stella Creasy MP who recounted her and Caroline Criado-Perez's twitter harrasment experience last July.

Nominet review of domain registration policy

In September Nominet announced a review into whether they should prevent some words or terms being registered. Currently they do not. Background to the review, including their correspondence with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is available from the Nominet website.

Open Rights Group responded to the review and you can read our comments on our website.


First public evidence session of Intelligence chiefs

The Intelligence and Security Committee held the first open evidence session where Sir Iain Lobban, Director, GCHQ; Mr Andrew Parker, Director General, Security Service; and Sir John Sawers, Chief, Secret Intelligence Service, appeared in public together to give an account on the work of the intelligence agencies. While the panel 'grilled' the witnesses on the topics of nuclear weapons and the terrorist threat, the issue of mass surveillance saw the repetition of many of the familiar answers and analogies of haystacks and needles. The session was covered by an ORG blog and a video playback of the session is available from Parliament.

Private Members Bills

Unsolicited Telephone Calls and Texts bill second reading

A private members bill titled ‘Communications (Unsolicited Telephone Calls and Texts) Bill’ has been scheduled for a second reading in parliament on Friday 29 November. The first appearance of the bill has been published (PDF version). The bill includes provisions on the collection of personal data. It says “a person shall not collect, nor instigate the collection of, personal data(…)if at any time the person knew(…)the personal data would be used(…)by any person for the purpose of direct marketing via an automated calling system” direct marketing via facsimile machine and electronic mail.

Debates and questions

Renewed call to bring back Communications Data bill

Ben Wallace MP has made renewed calls to reintroduce the Communications Data Bill following a statement made by the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, on the escape of a terror suspect. Suspect Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed had been placed under investigation under TPims (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) but managed to escape by cutting off his electronic tab and wearing a burqa.

Ben Wallace said that a way to improve the investigation and surveilllance capabilities of the Security Service was to introduce the Communications Data bill. The Home Secretary agreed that the bill would increase the capabilities of the police adding that it would be especially important during prosecution.

Question on cyber-bullying and internet trolling spending

A question has been asked on how much money was spent by the Department for Education on tackling cyber-bullying and internet trolling in 2012. Elizabeth Truss MP answered that 4 million has been provided by the Department to be given to four organisations along the span of 3 years (from 2013-2015).

In 2012-13 the Social Fund awarded BeatBullying with 1.3 million to fund a project.

International Developments

The Information Commissioner's Office, which is responsible for data protection and privacy in the UK, has clarified that any alternative tracking technologies to replace cookies would still be subject to The Privacy and Electronic Communications Amendment Regulations 2011. Under the current regulations, websites need to explicitly state they are using tracking devices (if they are not technically essential) and ask for consent.

Apple report on government information requests

Apple has released a report (PDF) on the number of information requests made by governments. The information disclosed is from January 1, 2013 till June 30, 2013 and includes account and device requests. They note that "Apple’s main business is not about collecting information. As a result, the vast majority of the requests we receive from law enforcement seek information about lost or stolen devices, and are logged as device requests."

In the UK the total number of account requests were 127, Apple disclosed data on 51 accounts (disclosed data defined as discernible accounts, based on specific Apple IDs, email addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, or other personal identifiers, for which Apple provided some iCloud, iTunes, or Game Center data).

Extracted figures for the UK have been added to the ORG wiki.

Germany and Brazil submit draft resolution to end mass surveillance

Germany and Brazil have circulated a draft resolution sent to the UK General Assembly's human rights committee. The resolution seeks to end mass surveillance and secure the right to privacy; "to take measures to put an end to violations of these rights and to create the conditions to prevent such violations, including by ensuring that relevant national legislation complies with their obligations under international human rights law." The notion will be debated at the end of the month.

The full transcript can be found

Civil society groups send open letter to David Cameron

70 international civil society groups have penned an open letter to David Cameron MP to express concern over the "erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country". The letter highlights alarm over the use of 'security threat' as a pretext to erode personal freedoms. They mention:

- the detention of David Miranda.

- pressure against the Guardian for publishing Edward Snowden's disclosures.

European Union

New report on mass-scale surveillance

A new report by jurist Sergio Carrera and international relations professor Francesco Ragazzi, have found the US and European countries guilty of breaking EU law. They cite article 4.3 on 'sincere co-operation' of the EU treaty and privacy clauses in EU charter of fundamental values and fundamental rights as being violated. They also call for the European Parliament to take legal action, create a draft for the "professional code for the transnational management of data" and the creation of a permanent oversight body for intelligence. The report has been published in the Centre for European Policy Studies journal and is available on their website.

Law and Legal Cases

Sky wins court case against bar manager

Sky has won a case filed against the designated manager of a college bar in Glasgow. The ruling ordered the manager to pay £10,000 (including legal costs) for showing Sky Sports in the bar without a proper viewing agreement. He was also ordered to pay for the notice of the case in newspapers and magazines.

Sky has brought a series of cases to court for not having a commercial viewing agreement.

ORG Media coverage

2013-11-07 - Guardian - Questioning of spy agency chiefs 'wouldn't have scared a puppy'
Author: Peter Walker
Summary: Quote from Jim Killock (given as "spokesman" for some reason) following the first ISC open evidence session.
2013-11-04 - Guardian - Surveillance and open government need not be mutually exclusive
Author: Tamsin Rutter
Summary: coverage of International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

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