ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w10

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 03/03/2014

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Official Meetings

Jim Killock spoke at an open parliamentary discussion concerning a proposed 'Digital Rights Bill' by the Liberal Democrats.

Javier Ruiz has been attending RightsCon in San Francisco and spoken at various panels.

Consultations and departments

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

Intellectual Property Office releases guidance for use of digital images and photographs on the internet

The IPO have published their first copyright notice, providing guidance on the use of images online. The guidance is meant to provide clear and non-technical instructions on areas of the law the public has found most confusing.

The document uses examples to explain copyright ownership and when and how to get copyright permissions. You can view the document (in PDF) online.

Debates, questions and speeches

Deputy Prime Minister gives speech on security and privacy in digital age

On Tuesday, Nick Clegg MP, gave a speech at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, where he discussed balancing privacy and security in the digital age.

He posed a series of questions he said should be addressed in the UK as they have in the US. Those questions were:

  • Are the state's capabilities proportionate to risks?
  • Is the legal framework suitable for protecting citizen's human rights, freedom of communication and privacy?
  • Is there a suitable oversight regime?
  • Is the state confident that secrecy is always used as a necessity rather than a habit?

He said it was not a binary debate between a democracy and a surveillance state, but rather "a debate about the strength of our democracy and its interaction with parts of the state that are, by their nature, secret". To that he added "public interest cannot be democratically determined behind closed doors. It is not enough for the agencies to claim that they accurately interpret the correct balance between privacy and national security: they must be seen to do so, and that means strong, exacting, third-party oversight"

He commented that the debate was not whether the intelligence agencies had broken the law, but whether the laws are fit for the internet age.

Finally, he spoke of the importance of privacy in a free society and the immense powers that come with large amounts of data, accessible through our increasing digital footprint.

You can view the transcript in full on the government website.

Question on measures to protect children from self-harm sources online

A question was asked on actions taken to protect children and young people from self-harm material and associated sources on the internet.

Lord Gardiner of Kimbleset answered that the government has engaged with industry to produce a series of measures parents can take to protect their children. The measures include installing family filtering that would protect all devices.

Mr Gardiner also said that as part of the national curriculum, children aged between 5-16 are taught safe and responsible behaviour when using the internet.

He said that while there was no silver bullet to deal with the issue, they expect social media companies to take more actions to respond to abusive behaviour on their networks. He said that soon there would be a meeting with social media companies to find other ways they can protect children.

Question on time frame for copyright exception reforms

Mike Weatherley MP has asked a question on when the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills will implement the changes to copyright exceptions and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State responded, that since the technical review closed in September 2013, there have been a number of technical changes.

The draft regulations have to be checked by the legal advisers to the Joint Committee on Statutory instruments, which should last for a minimum of two weeks. After this, the regulations will be debated in both Houses of Parliament.

The government will publish their responses, explanatory notes, guidance documents and regulations documents on the Intellectual Property Office website and both Houses of Parliament.

European Union

Edward Snowden sends testimony to European Parliament

Edward Snowden has responded to questions posed by the European Parliament as a part of their civil liberties committee inquiry into PRISM and Tempora.

Mr Snowden clarified that he would not be disclosing any new information on the surveillance programme, but will only be answering questions with information that has been reported through the media.

Some of the questions and answers are included below. They have all been paraphrased and shortened. You can view his full testimony online in PDF format.

  • What level of cooperation exists between the NSA and EU Member States in terms of collection and transfer of bulk data?

The NSA's Foreign Affairs Division (FAD) has as a main mission to convince EU member states to reform their laws in order to allow mass surveillance. Once that is done they are then 'encouraged' to gain access to all major telecommunications providers within their jurisdiction. The NSA provides cooperating countries with technical and other expert assistance to enable mass surveillance.

  • Had you exhausted all avenues, before going public?

He had reported the programmes to more than ten district officials, without resulting in any action.

  • Can you confirm NSA 'attacks' on EU institutions, telecommunications providers or other EU companies?

He confirms that instances reported in the media are unmodified and true, meaning that Belgacom, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the EU as an institution, the United Nations and UNICEF have all been spied on. He said that there are other institutions, but will wait for them to be revealed by the media.

  • Will you disclose any more information and has he been asked by Russian and Chinese authorities to disclose any information with names?

He will not be disclosing any more information and has only given the information to the journalist he is known to have worked with.

Political Parties

Open parliamentary meeting to discuss proposed digital billl of rights by Liberal Democrats

On Wednesday, Julian Huppert MP and Tim Farron MP, hosted an open parliamentary discussion on a proposed 'Digital Bill of Rights', by the Liberal Democrats. Participants in the panel were: Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the Guardian; Richard Allan, Director of European Public Policy for Facebook; Rachel Robinson, Director of Policy for Liberty; Nick Pickles from Big Brother Watch; Jim Killock of Open Rights Group.

The panelists spoke about what they would like to see in such a bill. Quite a few spoke about the importance to reform the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

Mr Huppert said the problem with the mass surveillance is not to look at whether the law was broken by the intelligence agencies, but if the law was right to start with. He also said there was a need for judicial involvement in the issue of mass surveillance and a system that would make the Intelligence Services Commissioner, more accountable.

Mr Farron, said he didn't agree with the dichotomy of privacy and freedom and that laws needed to be reformed. On the issue of the ISC said he there was a need for a panel of experts, an annual review, a more accountable committee with more resources.

The proposed bill will be further debated this Sunday during a Liberal Democrat conference.

A more detailed write-up of the meeting, including the accounts of the other panellists, will be available on our blog next week.

Commercial Stakeholders

Getty images releases 35 million photos for free use in order to combat copyright infringement

The world's largest photo agency, has made 35 million images free to use, in order to combat piracy.

They have created a 'embed tool' that will allow users to include the photo on their website. The code included in the tool, can allow the company, in turn, to advertise on your site, similar to YouTube.

However, there has been a large backlash by photographers who do not want their work be used for free.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

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