ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w26

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

Top Stories:

  • Home Secretary denies practice of mass surveillance, alludes to revival of Communications Data Bill.
  • US Attorney General will propose new legislation that will give European the same rights as Americans in data transfers.
  • Information Commissioner publishes 2013 annual report.

This is ORG's Parliamentary and policy update for the week beginning

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Official Meetings

Jim Killock has been in Washington this week attending discussions about the ongoing trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). He met with Susan Morgan from the Global Network Initiative and Sarah St Vincent from the Centre for Democracy & Technology.

Javier Ruiz had a data sharing meeting in the Cabinet Office on Thursday to discuss fraud, error and debt. Javier and Pam Cowburn also met with the Child Rights International Network on Friday to discuss web filters.

Consultations and departments

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

Annual report by the Intelligence Services Commissioner

The Intelligence Services Commissioner, released his annual report for 2013. It should be noted that the Commissioner only reviewed 318 warrants and authorisations out of a total of 1887.

Some of the key finding were:

  • 33 errors reported
  • 19 mistakes by MI5, 10 mistakes by MI6, 3 mistakes by GCHQ
  • 418 instances where “consideration had to be given as to whether there was a serious risk of an individual being subject to unacceptable conduct either because they were in the detention of a liaison service, or if intelligence was supplied to solicit detention and they were then detained.” (Big Brother Watch).

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

Government Bills

Discussions on copyright exceptions to parody, quotations and personal copies on track in House of Lords

The House of Lords will debate the proposed copyright exceptions for Quotation and Parody and Personal Copies for Private Use on Thursday 3rd July (Parliament).

Debates, questions and speeches

Home Secretary speech on mass surveillance

Theresa May MP made a speech on Tuesday where she denied the practice of mass surveillance on the basis that in order for it to constitute mass surveillance it must be "pervasive and thorough observation".

Her speech follows a witness statement by the head of the Home Office's security and counter-terrorism unit, Charles Farr, who for the first time last week admitted the government was collecting communication information from social media sites, on the basis that they constituted external communications. The Home Secretary dismissed criticisms that this practise exploited a loophole in RIPA as 'nonsense'.

She warned that developing technology meant it was harder for the government to obtain data which would result in "making the internet an ungoverned, ungovernable space, a safe haven for terrorism and criminality."

She also allured to a revival of the Communications Data Bill (also referred to as the Snooper's Charter), by making the case that a reform to the law which would allow the government to maintain their capabilities, were "quite simply a question of life and death, a matter of national security" (The Guardian).

You can view a transcript of her speech online.

Nick Clegg's response to Theresa May's revival calls for 'Snoopers Charter'

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP, in response to Theresa May's speech on Tuesday has warned there will not be a revival of the Communications Data Bill while he was in government. He said "So no to what I call the weblog snoopers' charter. Yes of course to keeping up with technology but yes also to much wider reforms to improve the accountability, the checks and balances and the transparency with which these surveillance powers are used." (The Guardian).

International Developments

US Attorney General to propose legislation that would give Europeans the same rights as Americans for data transfers

Eric Holder, America's Attorney General, said that as part of negotiations to establish a EU-US Data Protection and Privacy Agreement, he would propose legislation that would "provide E.U. citizens with the right to seek redress in U.S. courts if personal data shared with U.S. authorities by their home countries for law enforcement purposes under the proposed agreement is subsequently intentionally or willfully disclosed" (The Register).

The press release is available in full online.

European Union

Draft White Paper on EU copyright policy leaked

A White Paper titled "A copyright policy for creativity and innovation in the European Union" has been leaked and made available by

The three main objectives of the White Paper are:

  • To further facilitate the availability of and access to content in the digital single market
  • Ensuring the optimal articulation between copyright and other public policy objectives
  • Achieving a copyright marketplace and value-chain that works efficiently for all players and gives the right incentives for investment in creative and intellectual work.

You can view a more detailed analysis by IPKat online.

The draft copy is available online in PDF format.

New Legislation protecting consumers online

On the 13th June, a new EU Consumer Rights Directive, came into force bringing in a series of new protections for European consumers online. Some of the main points were:

  • End of unjustified surcharges for the use of credit cards and hotlines
  • 14 days cancellation of a purchase
  • Ban on advertising products as free with secret charge (Europa).

A guidance document and the amendments to the Directive, have been published online.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2014-06-24 - Out-Law - UK government faces potential legal action if data retention practices are not ended
Author: N/A
Summary: Article about the potential legal action the government faces from the Open Rights Group if they do not change data retention practices.

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