ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w08

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 17/02/2014

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Official Meetings

Javier Ruiz met with the Guardian to discuss surveillance.

Peter Bradwell attended a meeting with Ofcom to talk about their work monitoring parental controls and filtering systems.

NSA and GCHQ updates

See our full list of the Guardian and Snowden’s revelations.

US and UK intelligence agencies targeting Wikileaks and Anonymous

New documents show that both US and UK intelligence agencies targeted Wikileaks and other 'hacktivist' groups, including Anonymous.

Two NSA offices had designated Wikileaks as a " malicious foreign actor". Such a categorisation would allow the security agency to target the group and anyone else communicating with them with extensive surveillance. A document from 2010 also shows the Obama administration had pressured allies into filing criminal charges against Wikileaks creator, Julian Assange.

GCHQ on the other hand, launched operation 'ANTICRISIS GIRL' to monitor all visitors to the Wikileaks website. The programme was operated by Global Telecoms Exploitation, a project which allows 'passive' surveillance by intercepting large amounts of data from internet cables, satellites and phones (also linked to the Tempora project). In order to analyse their stream of data, they used analytics software (Piwik), which also helped them identify the country of origin of each visitor.

Consultations and departments

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

New directive to 'benefit the creative industry'

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Intellectual Property Office, issued a press statement announcing the "Collective Rights Management Directive", voted in from the European Council.

The directive is said to make it easier for the creative and media industries to grow as it simplifies the licensing process, reducing costs and time. The directive will also improve access to legitimate music across the EU and introduce a minimum standard for the societies that license copyright and collect royalties (known as collecting societies).

Delay and inquiry announced for NHS central database

Plans by the NHS to start transferring patient files to a central database (known as have been pushed back to Autumn.

The transfers were due to start in April, but have been delayed because of concerns expressed by the The Royal College of GPs, the British Medical Association and patient watchdog Healthwatch England over an inadequate communications campaign. The organisations are concerned the programme has not been adequately explained to patients and not enough information has been given as to how to opt-out.

NHS England had organised a mass mail-out to households, however, according to a BBC poll last week, out of 860 people, less than a third could recall receiving them.

On Thursday, the Health Committee announced an inquiry into the programme, with the first oral evidence session scheduled for Tuesday 25 February.

Debates and questions

Question about Scotland's curriculum for child safety

Scottish MP, Elaine Murray has asked the Scottish government, how the national curriculum in schools work to protect children online.

The Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages answered that it is within the curriculum for students to be taught to act responsibly when using different technologies and school staff are trained to respond to any of their student's challenges.

He also said, the ministry has published guidance to help schools and local authorities develop policies encouraging online safety to protect them from harassment and abuse online and to develop policies on responsible use of mobile technologies in schools. Finally, he added, that in order to address new online dangers (such as neknominate), stakeholder summits are frequently held to discuss and bring together new approaches and strategies.

European Union

European Parliament to vote on net neutrality draft laws

On Monday 24, the European Parliament will vote on draft amendments put forward by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee to the Single Telecoms Package Regulations, a regulation connected to Net Neutrality laws.

The draft contains amendments as proposed by other European Parliament committees. Some advocacy groups have expressed concern over what they call watered-down amendments by the lead rapporteur.

One such amendment will allow telecommunications companies to alter the quality of services for the separate bandwidth traffic and allow the delivery of specialised services.

Groups opposing these changes are the Public Service Media, the European Broadcasting Union and the Computer and Communication Industry Association.

A live broadcast will be available from 21:30 on Monday on EP's channel.

European draft regulations for emergency caller in vehicles

The European Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection have published a study on a proposed in-vehicle emergency system (eCall) titled "Data protection aspects of eCall". The report highlights the importance of integrating data protection laws into the emergency device.

eCall is a device to be placed in vehicles that will establish a channel between the car's location and a public safety answering point, in the case of an accident. This will enable an ambulance to be sent to the location, without needing the passengers to make any calls.

The European Commission wants to make the deployment of the service mandatory across the EU by October 2015.

The report explains why data protection provisions should be applied to the system. It also highlights some potential worries to privacy. They highlight that the device should send out a minimum set of data, in order to ensure eCall is not over-collecting information. However, they also explain that in order for the device to be effective, it would have to send enough location information to determine the direction of travel. This would require it to be active continuously, even before an accident, contradicting the description of 'dormant' that is officially used to describe it.

Law and Legal Cases

Court rules David Miranda's airport detention lawful under Schedule 7 of Terrorism Act

In August, David Miranda, husband to journalist who broke the Edward Snowden story, was detained at a UK airport for nine hours under terrorism charges. His laptop, mobile, DVDs and memory cards were confiscated by port police who were operating under a notice issued by the Security Services. He was carrying files obtained by Snowden from the NSA.

On Wednesday, the High Court ruled in favour of the home secretary, saying the detention was lawful under Schedule 7.

The final judgement on the proportionality of the measure reads as follows:

"The Schedule 7 stop was a proportionate measure in the circumstances. Its objective was not only legitimate, but very pressing. In a press freedom case, the fourth requirement in the catalogue of proportionality involves (...) the striking of a balance between two aspects of the public interest: press freedom itself on one hand, and on the other whatever is sought to justify the interference: here national security. On the facts of this case, the balance is plainly in favour of the latter"

The judges did however note the detention and seizure of the material was "an indirect interference with press freedom".

Former shadow home secretary, David Davis MP commented on the ruling, saying "Clearly parliament has to look at the powers it has given these agencies since as with a number of other counter-terrorism powers it has been misused and over used"

In 2012-2013, Schedule 7 was used to arrest 61,145 people, of those 0.03% were arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity.

You can view the ruling in full online (PDF).

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

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