ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w30

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

After passing through emergency legislation in a record of 7 days, the House of Commons and House of Lords began their summer recess and will reconvene on the 1st of September.

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This is ORG's Parliamentary and policy update for the week beginning 27/07/2014

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Official Meetings

There were no official meetings this week.

Consultations and departments

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

UK commissioners publish 'road map' to their oversight roles

The UK government's commissioners have published a 'road map' titled "Surveillance Road Map: A shared approach to the regulation of surveillance the United Kingdom", in response to calls for an examination of the surveillance oversight process, following the 'Snowden revelations'.

The report has been published jointly with the Information Commissioner's Office, the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the Office of Surveillance Commissioners, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and the Office of the Biometrics Commissioner.

The report's purpose is to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each body in overseeing surveillance legislation in the UK.

The report is available online in PDF.

Ofcom report finds less than 1 in 7 households sign-up for network filters

The regulatory body Ofcom, published a report this week on network level filtering offered by the main five ISPs. It found that only a very small number of new customers chose to sign up to the filtering service, an active decision all new subscribers must make when setting up their internet.

The following is a breakdown for the percentage of customers who singed up to use the filters:

  • Virgin Media - 4%
  • BT - 5%
  • Sky - 8%
  • TalkTalk - 36% (BBC).

At the start of the week, the Open Rights Group launched a website about the effects of filtering. Head over to the Department of Dirty to see a satirical government department.

You can view the Ofcom report online.

Government Digital Service adopts open standards as default for government documents

The Government Digital Service has adopted Open Standards as the default for their documents. Word files will be saved with the ".odt" suffix rather than ".doc".

The reason's they're making the switch is to :

  • allow users to have a choice on the software they use when reading government documents
  • allow for the easier sharing of documents among government employees
  • allow for cheaper and easier collaboration with the government (Government Digital Services)

Government Bills

House of Commons committee approves of copyright exceptions to parody and private copies

The House of Commons' tenth Delegated Legislation Committee, has approved the draft copyright exceptions for quotation and parody and personal copies for private use, for the Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations 2014 (

Debates, questions and speeches

Question on the introduction of legislation to clarify the 'right to be forgotten'

Lord Birt asked if there was a plan by the government to introduce legislation clarifying the law on The Right To Be Forgotten.

Lord Faulks said the government was continuing its assessment of the implications of the recent ruling. They welcome the work by the Committee of European data protection authorities to develop a set of criteria used by search engine operators.

Lords Faulks also added that the government does not support 'the right to be forgotten' as defined in the ongoing discussion on the General Data Protection Regulation in the Council of the European Union. He said "It is not technologically possible to remove all trace of data uploaded on the internet and we should be mindful of setting unrealistic expectations for data subjects which do not exist in practice."(Hansard).

Question on sentencing criminals of criminals for online gaming theft

Mike Weatherley MP has asked whether there is any consideration to introduce legislature that will "ensure that cyber criminals who steal online items in video games with a real-world monetary value" receive the same sentence as those who steal real items.

It was answered that online theft and fraud is already dealt with under current legislation and the sentencing depended on individual courts (Hansard).

European Union

Free Trade Agreements

MEPs discuss TTIP with trade Commissioner

On Tuesday, MEP members of the European Committee on International Trade (INTA) quized trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht MEP on the ongoing negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (widely referred to as TTIP). TTIP is a trade treaty, currently negotiated in great secrecy. Many of its provisions, especially on copyright infringement, are thought to be similar to the widely criticised Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement 2011 (ACTA)

You can rewatch the debate online and read an interview with the chair of the international trade committee, Bernd Lange on the European Parliament's news website

Law and Legal Cases

MPs launch legal actions against 'emergency' data retention legislation

David Davis MP and Tom Watson MP have launched a judicial review of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which was introduced to parliament as an emergency bill and passed through all scrutiny stages within a week. The court case will be carried out by Liberty on behalf of the MPs and will argue the legislation is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 7 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which calls for the respect for private and family life and protection of personal data.

Mr Davis said the Bill was "driven through the House of Commons with ridiculous and unnecessary haste to meet a completely artificial emergency" (The Guardian).

ORG is currently fund-raising to prevent the legislation from being implemented, find out more on our blog.

Commercial Stakeholders

New partnership between UK creative industry and ISPs to reduce copyright infringement

Representatives from the UK creative industries and the major Internet Service Providers have launched a new partnership called the Creative Content UK. Supported by the government, the initiative is aimed at raising consumer awareness on the availability of legitimate online content and at the reduction of online copyright infringement (The British Recorded Music Industry).

The partnership has been seen by some as an alternative implementation of the Digital Economy Act 2010 as it also includes an arrangement with the BPI and MPA, bodies who commission agents to monitor file sharing networks for infringing content.

Tumblr publishes summer transparency report

Online blogging platform, Tumblr has published their transparency report on the number of requests for customer information received from January to June 2014.

It can be viewed on their website.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2014-07-24 - RT DRIP displays British ‘intelligence’ in dealing with the world
Author:Bryan MacDonald
Summary: Article discussing UK data retention bill, with a reference to ORG's legal challenge to block it from implementation
2014-07-23 - Wired Department of Dirty ridicules Cameron's porn filters
Author:Olivia Solon
Summary: Article about the Department of Dirty launched by ORG
2013-07-23 - The Inquirer Majority of UK web users haven't turned on ISP's internet porn filters
Author: Dave Neal
Summary: Discussion of Ofcom's report on consumer rejection of internet filters and mention of ORG's Department of Dirty with a quote from Jim Killock
2014-07-23 - PC Pro How to report website overblocking and miscategorisation to ISPs
Author:Nicole Kobie
Summary: Article discussing the Ofcom report indicating the rejection of network level filters by consumers. Mention of ORG's blocked project

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