ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w15

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This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning

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Official Meetings

Jim Killock attended two meetings in Glasgow at the start of the week for further discussions to set up ORG Scotland. He met with Alistair Davidson from The Centre for Technology and Society and with the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland. He also attended a data protection forum in London and spoke about civil society's response to mass surveillance. Today he will attend a copyright event organised by CREATe as a member of a panel discussion.

Javier Ruiz has been attending the eCampaigning Forum.

NSA and GCHQ updates

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

Edward Snowden says NSA spied on human rights organisations

At a video testimony to the European Council, Edward Snowden said the NSA has been spying on leaders and staff members of international organisations, including high profile organisations like Human Rights Watch. He also denied the accusations that he stole 1.7million files from the US government (The Guardian).

Consultations and departments

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

Government issues annual report on terrorism prevention strategy

The Home Office released their annual report for 2013 on their terrorism prevention strategy (which is also known as CONTEST).

Here are some of the report's highlights:

  • The report reiterates the need for a legal framework that will permit the collection of communications data. The report says "Under existing legislation it is no longer always possible for law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies to obtain domestic communications data from communications companies".
  • 21,000 pieces of illegal online terrorist content have been removed since 2010
  • The Home Office is working with industry to expand the range of filters to block 'offensive' material "We are also working with industry to include unpleasant, but nonetheless legal, extremist material in family-friendly filters for harmful content and to make it easier for the public to report material they find offensive."

You can view the report in full online.

Department for Business launches award scheme for businesses

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launched a new award scheme called 'Cyber Essentials'. The scheme provides guidelines on what security systems should be used by organisations. An organisation can apply for a Cyber Essentials award after successfully completing an assessment process, the award can be displayed to potential customers and businesses


Surveillance watchdog 'clears' GCHQ of unlawful activity

The Interceptions Communications Officer, Sir Anthony May, has concluded that the UK government does not carry out random mass intrusions of citizens in reference to the mass surveillance programmes PRISM and Tempora. In the report he said "Public authorities do not misuse their powers ... to engage in random mass intrusion into the private affairs of law abiding UK citizens. It would be comprehensively unlawful if they did (The Telegraph)."

International Developments

Survey shows businesses have changed online activity following 'Snowden revelations'

A survey of 1,000 "information and communications technology decision-makers" from around the world, has revealed that a large number of them have changed their online activity as a result of the 'Snowden revelations".

  • 90% answered they had changed the way they use the cloud, since the 'revelations' in July 2013
  • 1/3 said they were moving their company's data somewhere safer

Turkey reaffirms YouTube ban in spite of court rulings

The country's telecoms regulator, the Information and Communications Technologies Authority, reaffirmed the ban of video media platform YouTube, despite a ruling by their High Court saying that it violates human rights (The New York Times).

Security software vulnerability exposes passwords

A programming error, nicknamed 'heartbleed', was revealed to have existed in widely deployed versions of OpenSSL, an open software widely used by banks, shops and email providers to encrypt web communications. The vulnerability was announced on Monday, but has existed in the code for two years. It allows an attacker to retrieve a section of the memory used by the software using it, and this can potentially contain sensitive information such as passwords passwords and private key material.

Most of the larger affected sites were patched shortly after the vulnerability was disclosed and it is expected that, over next few weeks, many sites will be updating their private SSL keys and requesting their users change their passwords.

Tune in to Radio 4's 'You and Yours' programme on Monday 12 o'clock to hear our Executive Director talk about Heartbleed.

US government refused to hand over surveillance file to Merkel

According to a question answered by the German government, the Merkel administration issued a request on 24 October 2013 to the US government asking for the NSA surveillance file on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but the request was denied (The Guardian).

Law and Legal Cases

European Court of Justice declares the retention of data invalid

See our press release page for an official statement by our Executive Director, Jim Killock.

On Tuesday 8 April, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling declaring the Data Retention Directive as invalid and disproportionate.

The Directive was ordered, after the 2006 terrorist bombings in the UK and Madrid, as a measure to prevent future attacks. It compels communication service providers to collect and store customer information concerning all communications, internet usage and location data (view our wiki for more information on the Directive).

The Irish High Court and the Austrian Constitutional Court had previously requested the ECJ to examine the compatibility of data retention with fundamental rights, in particular with the right to privacy ( article 8 of the EDHR).

The court found the directive to be in violation of fundamental rights, the official press release reads:

"It entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data, without that interference being limited to what is strictly necessary (International Business Times)".

You can view the Court's judgement in full online.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2014-04-09 - Appearance by ORG's Executive Director on Dutch programme
Summary: Jim Killock appearing on Dutch programme, Nieuwsuur, talking about the legal case against the UK government on mass surveillance (Privacy not Prism) available at 5:04 minutes
2014-04-08 - PC World - EU data retention rules violate privacy rights and are invalid, EU court rules
Author: Loek Essers
Summary:Quote by Jim Killock on European Court of Justice ruling against Data Retention directive
2014-04-08 - The Inquirer - European Council of Justice rules data retention directive is invalid
Author:Dave Neal
Summary:Quote by Jim Killock on European Court of Justice ruling against Data Retention directive
2014-04-08 - International Business Times - EU Court Rules Against Data Retention Directive
Author: Anthony Cuthberston
Summary: Quote by Jim Killock on European Court of Justice ruling against Data Retention directive
2014-04-06 - Value Walk - Netflix, Inc., Google Inc Relieved After Net Neutrality Law By EU
Author:Aman Jain
Summary: Quote from Jim Killock

ORG contact details

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