ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w48

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 25/11/2013

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Official Meetings

Jim Killock met with campaign groups on Wednesday to discuss the UK response to mass surveillance. he was on a panel discussing Internet governance at Chatham House on Wednesday. Javier Ruiz gave a talk at a showing of the film Terms and Conditions in Brighton on Tuesday. This weekend, ORG is at Crypto Festivals in London and Brighton.

Consultations and departments

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

Minister for Security announces extremist content censorship at ISPA annual conference

James Brokenshire MP gave the keynote speech at the annual ISPA conference on Wednesday 27 November. In his speech he reiterated the sentiment of creating a unilateral cyber security force mentioned by William Hague MP at the Seoul cyber security conference and David Cameron's internet safety summit last week.

He also mentioned plan to tackle extremist content online. He said the measures would be announced shortly, but it is believed to be similar to the methods used by the Internet Watch Foundation. You can view ORG's opinion of this on our blog.

The security minister also outlined a series of moves to tackle cyber crimes. among those mentioned were:

He also stressed the need for a strong cooperation between industry and government especially with ISPs. He mentioned the importance of both the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership and the newly created Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership. The Partnership will allow the minister to hear directly from those involved in the relevant industries. Finally he mentioned the need to tackle more 'sophisticated' crime on the Tor network.

The full transcript has been published on the government website.

Government response to consultation on cyber security

Following the closure of a consultation into cyber security organisation standards, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published the report on the evidence submitted.

The main suggestions from businessess were that the cyber security standards need to be:

  • be internationally-recognised
  • promote international trade
  • allow sytems to exchange and use information
  • be auditable

The main outcome is that government is to work with industry to create a new standards profile. You can access the full document in PDF from the department's consultations page.

Verisign issues 'no decision' on domain seizures by City of London police

In October, City of London's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit(PIPCU) started sending requests to domain registrars to block certain domains and redirect them to a seized by PIPCU page without a court order.

EasyDNS refused to comply because of the lack of due process, while other domain registrars like Public Domain Registry (PDR) complied. EasyDNS filed a Request For Enforcement with Verisign who operates the .COM/.NET registry, asking for the transfer of three domains that had been blocked by the PDR. This week, Verisign issued a decision of 'No decision', explaining that they did not have enough information from PDR to make a suitable judgement.

EasyDNS have announced that they will appeal the decision.

Report on cyber governance health check

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have published a document titled "FTSE 350 cyber governance health check: tracker report". The report is part of a policy to keep the UK safe in cyber space. In the report is a collection of information on cyber security awareness and preparedness of the 350 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange.

The second stage of the evaluation will be rolled out in the next 6 months and will build on the information collected in the tracker report.

The report is available in PDF format from their website.

Maria Miller announces when new filters will start

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published a speech by Maria Miller MP advising parents to keep their children safe online when buying them a tablet this christmas. In her speech she said that the four leading ISPs have all agreed to introduce network level filters, which apply the same filtering options to all devices connected to the same internet. She says that TalkTalk and Sky have already introduced them while BT and Virgin Media will introduce them within the following two months.

Midata publishes 'lessons learnt report'

The midata innovation lab (mIL) has released a report on the lessons and opportunities learned. Created in July 2013, the innovation lab is an initiative to "give the power of consumer data back to consumers " by allowing individuals to view what information companies have on them. It's main purpose is to encourage companies to collaborate with each other to find ways to protect consumer data and to promote consumers to use their 'profiles' in order to get the best possible outcome.

The full report is accessible through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website.


Online safety inquiry oral evidence

Last week the following gave oral evidence into a Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into online safety: Simon Milner, Policy Director, UK and Ireland, Facebook; Sinead McSweeney, Director, Public Policy, EMEA, Twitter International Company; Tony Close, Director of Content Standards, Licensing and Enforcement, Ofcom; Claudio Pollack, Group Director, Content Consumer and External Affairs Group, Ofcom; Damian Green MP, Edward Vaizey MP, Claire Perry MP.

Simon Milner from Facebook and Sinead McSweeney from Twitter were asked about the online safety measures on their social network websites. Notable discussions involved the mention of child abuse photos on facebook and the response time to abuse reports. Mr Milner said there are "350 million photos a day against a database of known images of child exploitation imagery" that are not allowed to be uploaded.

When asked at what speed they respond to content violation reports both said that it depended on what was being reported. For reports such as spam, the response rate will be much slower, while for content involving child sexual exploitation, threats of self-harm, suicide, threats of violence etc.. the management of such responses are prioritised. Mr Milner also said that for the above there is also a prioritisation with age; more attention is given if the reports involve younger people. While Mr Milner said that they aim their response to be within 48 hours, Ms McSweeney said that it takes from a minute to an hour to respond.

The inquiry was launched in August 2013 and aims to examine:

  • How best to protect minors from accessing adult content;
  • Filtering out extremist material, including images of child abuse and material intended to promote terrorism or other acts of violence;
  • Preventing abusive or threatening comments on social media.

Government Bills

Electronic devise seizure powers in Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill discussed in House of Lords

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill had its fourth sitting in the House of Lords on Monday 25th. It is currently in the committee stage where every clause and proposed amendment has to be debated and voted on.

The bill is also making amendments to schedules 7 and 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000. These sections of the legislation grant the power to border police to seize and make copies of a suspect's belongings (including any electronic equipment). These clauses were not discussed on Monday.

The next committee sitting has been scheduled for Monday 2 December. You can view all progress of the bill on the bill's website.

Third special report on Open Access published

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee published the response of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) of their inquiry into Open Access. Open Access aims to make academic papers more accessible and affordable.

You can find the third special report on the parliament's website.

Debates and questions

Question on measures against suicide material online

William McCrea has asked a question on government measures for blocking material encouraging suicide. The question was similar to the one asked last week by Lord Taylor of Warwick who asked about self harm websites.

Edward Vaizey MP answered the question in a similar way to last week saying that the official stance is self regulatory; to allow internet browsers and websites decide on what material should be blocked or removed. However, he also added that following the PMs internet safety summit last Monday, ISPs will be delivering family-friendly filters that can give the option to parents to block suicide and self-harm content.

International Developments

NSA collected information on online sexual habits

New documents obtained by Edward Snowden, reveal that the NSA was targeting six 'radical islamists' and collecting information on their online 'sexual activity' in order to discredit them. According to the Guardian, they aimed to create a list of their vulnerabilities. Examples of those vulnerabilities include "publishes articles without checking facts"; "deceitful use of funds"; "charges exorbitant speaking fees"; "attracted to fame"; and "glamorous lifestyle". None of the six have been accused or alleged to be involved in terror plots.

European Union

Report on Data Protection Regulation

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has published their report on the draft Data Protection Regulation with their suggested recommendations that were voted on October 21st. The Regulation is a proposed set of laws to unify data protection within Europe.

The document includes the opinions of the special rapporteur of the committee, Jan Philipp Albrecht, who said that he welcomed the changes and would also propose to limit the role of the European Commission to the minimum necessary, to emphasise the role of technologies in protecting personal data and to provide sufficient measures to ensure compliance with the new regulations on data protection.

You can view the full report including the recommendations online.

Law and Legal Cases

Decision for compatibility of Data Retention with EU Treaty on Fundamental Rights

The Irish High Court and Austrian Constitutional Court have asked the European Court of Justice if the Data Retention Directive clashes with the treaty on fundamental rights, particularly with article 8 that stipulates the right to private and family life, right to protection of personal data and the right to freedom of expression.

A statement will be released on Thursday 12 December 2013.

Google in settlement over privacy violations

Google has agreed to pay $25,000 for violating a US federal trade commission in 2011 and 2012. The company has been charged for misleading apple safari users by bypassing safari's default privacy setting that blocks third-party cookies. From June 2011 till February 2012 Google altered the coding of DoubleClick (its advertising platform) to enable it to still collect information on safari users. Needless to say this alteration was done without consumer knowledge or consent. The company removed the alteration in 2012 after the practise was widely reported.

Aside from the expenses, as part of the settlement, Google must agree to not misrepresent privacy settings to their users, ensure the expiration of third-party cookies on Safari, improve the information on privacy settings and more. The ruling can be found as a PDF version online.

European news agencies settle case with Croatian website

A group of ten news agencies (all members of the National Association of Press Agencies) have settled a court case on charges of copyright infringement. The Croatian site had used images taken from other news websites, mostly from the Mail Online, without any acknowledgement of the source.

A National Association of Press Agencies member agency spotted this and sent them repeated reminders on proper usage, all of which went ignored.

The case was settled out-of-court with a sum close to €50,000 and a further agreement, with one of the larger news agencies, to pay over €20,000 if the terms of photographic usage were not met.

Beastie boys and toys company in parody disagreement

A start-up toys manufacturing company has issued a pre emptive lawsuit over an advertisement that featured a parodied version of the Beastie Boys song 'Girls'.

While the original song includes lyrics like "girls to do the dishes", the ad, which is aimed at encouraging young girls to get involved in science and engineering, changed them to say "Girls build a spaceship" (these are not the only lyrics that have been changed).

Goldieblox says that the band threatened to sue them on copyright claims and that is why they filed a declaratory relief. This type of lawsuit aims to determine the rights of parties involved in a controversy, but not to award damages and order actions. The company asserts their right to use the music as parody "specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes.”

On Monday the Beastie Boys answered the lawsuit by publishing an open letter that explains that while they agree with the principles of the ad, they are strongly against featuring their music in advertisements.

Update: Goldieblox's creative director has published an open letter announcing the removal of the song and willingness to retract the lawsuit if they are not under threat from their legal team. The company still maintains that the use of their song falls under 'fair use' of parody.

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