ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w32

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This is ORG's Parliamentary and Policy Update for the week beginning 04/08/2014

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Official Meetings

There have been no official meetings this week.

NSA and GCHQ updates

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

New 'Snowden documents' reveal further ties between US, Israel and Middle Eastern states enabling them to conduct surveillance on Palestinian targets

New documents show further ties between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart, SIGINT National Unit (also referred to as Unit 8200). The documents state the NSA maintains an analytical and technical relationship with Unit 8200 "sharing information on access, intercept, targeting, language, analysis and reporting." The documents went on to say the "NSA’s cyber partnerships expanded beyond ISNU to include Israeli Defense Intelligence’s [Special Operation Division] SOD and Mossad."

The documents also reveal a close relationship between the US and other allies in the Middle East, such as with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, in exchanging information to conduct surveillance on Palestinian targets (The Intercept).

Consultations and departments

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

Telegraph reports on leaked document revealing plans to share individual's data across all government departments and bodies providing public services

The Telegraph is reporting on a draft plan written by Francis Maude MP, which will allow voter's information to be distributed across Whitehall.

The leaked document states the goal is to remove barriers to datasets in order to "help Government to design and implement evidence-based policy – for example to tackle social mobility, assist economic growth and prevent crime". Currently under the Data Protection Act 1998, government departments aren't allowed to distribute information beyond their offices (The Telegraph).

The Open Rights Group has been involved in open government consultations with the Cabinet Office and other privacy groups to discuss this draft plan. Although it is being reported as a set of laws, the proposals are still at a pre-policy stage.

Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit arrests man for running proxy server which provided access to copyright material

The City of London's Police intellectual property unit (PIPCU) has arrested a man for running a proxy server called Immunicity which offered access to sites hosting copyrighted material. ORG's Executive Director questioned whether the police should have been involved at this point, as the server did not appear to be run for profit (PC World).

Department for Culture announce new consultation on the creation of digital communications infrastructure

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport have launched an open consultation for the new Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy. The aim of the strategy is to ensure the UK continues to "benefit from world class communications networks, supporting further economic growth and wider social benefits".

The consultation closes on 1st October. You can find more information on

Science and Technology Committee inquiry into future uses of biometric data

The Commons Science and Technology Committee has launched a consultation into how biometric data can be used in the future and how effective the current legislation on ownership of the data is.

The consultation will close on Friday 26 September 2014, more information is available on the Committee's Inquiry page.

GCHQ gives certification to cyber security masters programmes from six universities

Francis Maude MP has announced the certification of masters programmes, offered by six UK universities. Those universities are Edinburgh Napier, Lancaster, Oxford and Royal Holloway. Cranfield University and the University of Surrey have been given provisional certification.

In his announcement, Mr Maude said they would be seeking further certification in late 2014 to degrees focusing on critical areas of cyber security. (

International Developments

US sought to change the public record of a public court hearing of an NSA case

The EFF is reporting that the US government attempted to make changes to the transcript of a public hearing on the grounds of classified information, in secret, so the public never knew the change was made.

In the US the federal law requires each session of the court to be published verbatim. The government withdrew their request after the Court allowed them a first look at the transcript and they evaluated there was no classified information (EFF).

FBI using hacker tools to identify users running criminal websites on Tor

The FBI in America appears to be using a tool used by hackers called "drive-by download", which allows for the distribution of malware from a high-traffic website.

The FBI is using this tool to identify users running criminal websites on Tor, an internet proxy system which allows users to browse the internet anonymously (The Wire).

Australia to enact data retention laws

Australia's Attorney-General has indicated that a series of laws have been approved which when enacted, will compel telecommunications companies to retain their customers data for two years (The Register).

US Federal Communications Commission releases comments on Net Neutrality question

The US Federal Communications Commission has released the results of their public consultation into proposals to introduce a 'faster internet lane' to Internet Service Providers paying a fee.

The consultation submissions have been published as XML files worth 1.4 GB of data (Tech dirt).

The files are available for download on the FCC's website.

Commercial Stakeholders

Google tip-off leads to arrest of man in possession of child pornography

A man in Texas was arrested following an investigation sparked by a tip-off from Google to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Google sent a tip off after it detected explicit images of a child in an email he was sending.

In a statement Google said "Each child sexual abuse image is given a unique digital fingerprint which enables our systems to identify those pictures, including in Gmail.". It went on to say that they only use this technology to identify images associated with child abuse imagery and not with any other activity associated with criminal activity (Ars Technica).

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2014-08-06 - Torrent Freak Police Arrest Operator of Torrent Site Proxies
Author: Ernesto
Summary: Story on the arrest of a man running a proxy server which gives access to websites hosting copyrighted material, with a quote form Jim Killock.

2014-08-04 - Wales Online Does Wales need a new Welsh language anguage broadcaster?
Author:David Williamson
Summary: Jim Killock comments on the development of a new Welsh language broadcaster

2014-08-01 - The Drum 'Right to parody' campaigners win battle after nine-year effort to modernise copyright law
Author: Angela Haggerty
Summary: Article talking about the new copyright exception for parody and private copying, as a victory for ORG

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