ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w47

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 20/11/2013

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Official Meetings

On Thursday Peter Bradwell gave a talk at the Queen Mary University Centre for Commercial Law on the Privacy not Prism legal challenge.

On Friday Javier Ruiz participated in a live debate organised by the Guardian on "Lessons in transparency for the UK government". You can view the transcript of the discussion in the comments section on their website.

Consultations and departments

A full list of open consultations and Parliamentary events can be found on our here

Open Rights Group sends open letter to Minister

Today, the Open Rights Group sent an open letter to the Under Secretary of State for Intellectual Property Lord Younger.

The letter's subject is the much needed and long promised copyright reform, which has been the subject of consultations and was initially proposed by the Hargreaves Review published in 2011. ORG believes that there is space for reform to protect people when making parody, caricature and pastiche. Our executive director also wrote a blog entry, bringing together the different issues of this government's copyright reform.

You can view the full letter in the letters section of our website.

Internet safety summit hosted by Prime Minister

David Cameron MP hosted a summit in 10 Downing Street on Monday 18 October to discuss ways to rid the internet of child abuse images. Those in attendance were representatives of ISPs, search engines, Joanna Shields (current UK Business Ambassador for Digital Industries), the National Crime Agency, Internet Watch Foundation and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. At the summit, the PM announced that the next stage to tackling child abuse was blocking content on the 'dark web', where most of this content is thought to be. The full communiqué has been published on their website.

Google and Microsoft block search terms for child abuse images

During the meeting Google and Microsoft Bing (which includes the Yahoo search engine) announced the introduction of new measures that will block more than 100,000 search terms that can produce results of child abuse images. Instead, the searches will display a warning that child abuse images are illegal.

Many child protection experts, including the former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, warned that most of the images of child abuse exist on the deep web and would therefore not appear on mainstream search engines.

At the summit, Microsoft said they "are working now on a rapid expansion of this approach to block all child abuse content against a much wider list of search terms". This could cause potential problems as it might block helpful or education content for victims, however, not enough information is available at this time to know the effects.

You can view ORG's commentary on the filtering developments on our blog.

Nominet decide to allow second level .uk registration

Following a second consulation on the matter, Nominet has decided to allow a second level registration commencing summer 2014. This decision will allow for shorter domain names ending in .uk rather than or Current holders of or have been given five years to decide whether they want to change their domain name or allow it to be purchased by others.

You can find ORG's response to the consultation sent on the 16th of September, on our website.

Appointment of new director for national Computer Emergency Response Team

Chris Gibson has been appointed as the director of the UK Computer Emergency Response Team. According to the Cabinet Office announcement, the team will be fully operational in early 2014.

The team's principle responsibilities will be to respond to cyber attacks by; providing core incident management response; leading international CERT engagement; and providing cyber situational awareness and information sharing.


Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to publish Open Access response

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee anounced that they will publish the response of the Research Councils UK (RCUK), for their inquiry into Open Access, on Tuesday 26 November.

The inquiry was launched in January 2013 to examine ways to reform the subscriptions and publications of academic papers. Open Access means that research publications will become available immediately upon publication.

Debates and questions

Debate on internet infrastructure and governance

On Wednesday, parliament held a half hour debate on " International infrastructure and governance of the internet", called for by Alan Cairns MP. He stressed the need for the UK to support an open internet and encourage other governments to do the same. Unfortunately the debate had a very low attendance, only drawing the further attention of Edward Vaizey MP and Glyn Davies MP. Mr Davies said that although the internet must remain open, the government should take enough measures to ensure that dangers are prevented. Edward Vaizey spoke about the importance of the internet in the developing world.

You can read through the debate on Hansard and see more information on Internet governance on our wiki.

Questions by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Question on integration of EU data protection regulations

Lord Taylor of Warwick has asked a question on the compatibility between UK and draft European legislation on Data protection. Minister of State for Justice, Lord McNally answered that both the UK and EU have carried out assessments on the impact of the laws. He said that the EU assessment was that it would reduce administrative costs caused by the current fragmentation of laws, totalling in €2.3 billion per annum. However, the UK Impact Assessment concluded that these benefits would be outweighed by the costs of creating new administrative and compliance measures required by the new regulation. The total was calculated to be somewhere between £100 million to £360 million per annum.

Question on assessment of facial recognition and data protection

Lord Taylor of Warwick alsoasked a question on the balance between facial recognition for advertising purposes and personal privacy. He asked if the government had made an assessment of whether there were enough safeguards in place to ensure sufficient consent is given for the use of facial recognition.

This comes as Tesco announced at the start of the month that they would be introducing facial recognition technology across their petrol stations to target advertisement.

Minister of State for Justice, Lord McNally answered that no assessment had been made, but highlighted that facial recognition is covered under the Data Protection Act (DPA). He also said that the Ministry of Justice works closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure that public and private sector adhere to their responsibilities under the DPA.

Question on regulation of self-harm websites

Lord Taylor's third question was whether the government would regulate websites that encourage self-harming.

Lord Gardinger responded that the government uses a self-regulatory approach for the internet and expects the regulation to come from browsers. He also referred to the Prime minister's summit on Monday and the new family filters that will be offered by ISPs, which will be able to block suicide and self-harm websites.

International Developments

Wordpress takes two DMCA claim cases to court

Wordpress' parent company, Automattic, has joined two cases in court under Section 512(f) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(DMCA). The DMCA is an American federal law used to protect copyright online. If copyright infringement claim is made under DMCA, then the hosting website must remove the content in question.

In these cases, content was removed from the sites without sufficient evidence of copyright infringement. In one of the cases, a UK based student journalist published a press statement that was sent to him by an anti-gay-rights group called Straight Pride UK. The group claimed a copyright infringement and under DMCA, the content was removed.

You can view Wordpress' statement on their website.

Fisa court finds NSA violations on data sharing

Following a transparency lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American government declassified Fisa court documents which reveal the NSA has broken several rules concerning the protection and distribution of information. The FISA court is the body responsible for issuing surveillance warrants against suspected foreign intelligence agents.

The opinion documents reveal that the security agency shared collected information with other governmental agencies without following procedures. The United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, is a directive that outlines the procedures for the distribution of data within the NSA. It also specifies that a senior agency official should verify that the data to be shared is related to counter-terrorism. However, the documents show that a large bulk of data was shared without using the aforementioned directive.

Reggie Walton, the current presiding judge, said in 2009 that “NSA analysts, cleared and otherwise, have generally not adhered to the dissemination restrictions proposed by the government, repeatedly relied on by the court in authorizing the [email and internet bulk] metadata, and incorporated into the court’s orders in this matter [redacted] as binding on NSA.”

Indonesia withdraws ambassador to Australia over spying

Indonesia's president has announced the withdrawal of their ambassador and the freezing of ties in a number of areas. This follows recent allegations, made by the Snowden revelations that Australia spied on the Indonesia's ambassador's communications in 2009.

Law and Legal Cases

Luxembourg rules that Skype and Microsoft lawful in sending information to America

Luxembourg’s Data Protection Authority has ruled that their country's subsidiaries of Skype and Microsoft have been operating legally under the Safe Harbour agreement in sending their European user's information to America.

This follows a complaint filed by the activist group Europe v Facebook. The group also filed similar complaints in Ireland (against the European subsidiaries of Facebook and Apple) and in Germany (against Yahoo). The Irish Data Protection Commissioner made a similar decision to Luxembourg, while in Germany, the complaint is still under consideration.

Court order rules ISPs to block more streaming websites

Following a request from the movie industry, a high court has ruled that six ΙSPs BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk should block a further five websites that provide access to copyright materials. Those sites are YIFY-Torrents,PrimeWire, Vodly, WatchFreeMovies and Project Free TV.

Last week, a similar court order was issued to the same providers to block two streaming websites.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

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