ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w36

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

Top Stories:

  • Culture Secretary warns of search engine anti-piracy legislation
  • Police may have circumvented data protection legislation in 'Plebgate' scandal
  • Office of Surveillance Commissioners find increase in surveillance authorisations, in report

This is ORG's Parliamentary and Policy Update for the week beginning 01/01/2014

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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

Culture Secretary warns of search engine anti-piracy legislation

See our blog for an analysis by our Policy Director.

The UK's Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid MP made a speech at the British Phonographic Industry Annual General Meeting at the start of the week, where he praised the UK's music legacy and spoke about the government's efforts to crack down on online copyright infringement.

He highlighted some actions the government was already undertaking, such as financing the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit with £2.5 million and working with industry to create an infringing website list. The list is to automatically detect "sites that deliberately and consistently breach copyright" so that large brands can stop advertising on them.

He added that along with Vince Cable MP they have written to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo asking them to stop showing web results that will send people to copyright infringing sites. He said “And let me be perfectly clear: if we don’t see real progress, we will be looking at a legislative approach" (

Department for Business endorses "Introduction to Cyber Security" online course

On Wednesday, with the support of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was launched to "inspire and educate the next generation of cyber security professionals in the UK". The course has been developed by the Open University (

Metropolitan police believed to have circumvented data protection laws in Plebgate scandal

See our blog for an analysis by our Communications Director.

Evidence arising from the Metropolitan Police's closing report on the 'Plebgate' scandal, has revealed the police has circumvented data protection powers.

The arrest of a police officer believed to be involved in the scandal, came after examining the phone records of the Sun's political editor, without his permission. The Sun was the first media outlet to report on the scandal. The Metropolitan Police also obtained information from the Sun's newsdesk.

The company was not informed of either action, permission for which was obtained by a police officer. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, authorisation should be obtained by a judge. However, it seems the Metropolitan Police used the authority granted to them by RIPA instead which requires them to demonstrate their measures as "proportionate, legal and necessary" (The Guardian).

National Crime Agency launches international cybercrime taskforce to tackle online crime

The National Crime Agency has launched the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) "to further strengthen the fight against cybercrime in the European Union and beyond".

The taskforce will coordinate international investigations to tackle key cybercrime threats and top targets. It was initiated by the Europol's EC3, the EU Cybercrime Taskforce, the FBI and the NCA.

View the official press statement for more details on

Non-ministerial Government Departments

Office of Surveillance Commissioners publish report, find increase of surveillance authorisations

The Office of Surveillance Commissioners, led by Chief Surveillance Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Christopher Rose, have published their report for the period of 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2014. These are some of the highlights from the report:

  • Intrusive Surveillance Authorisation have increased from 362 in 2013 to 392 in 2014, while two authorisation were voided by a Commissioner
  • Urgency provisions were used on 1,032 occasions (the Commissioner notes here "In 2012-13 I had noted a significant increase, and this increase has continued into this reporting year, though at a far less exponential rate")
  • Law enforcement agencies have authorised the use of direct surveillance on 9,664 occasions in 2014 up from 9,515 in 2013

The report is available online.

Private Members Bills

Bill to extend freedom of information to private healthcare companies and bodies seeking health service contracts

A bill to introduce amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was debated today at the House of Commons. The Bill seeks to extend its provisions to private healthcare companies and other bodies seeking health service contracts.

The Bill remains to be published, but you can follow all it's developments on

Debates, questions and speeches

Question on measures to protect personal data held by private companies

A question was asked on the measures taken by government to protect private date held by private companies operating Government-shared services.

Francis Maude MP responded that under all outsourcing arrangements, private companies are subject to the Government’s Information Assurance Standards, Good Practice Guides, Government Security Policy Framework and the Data Protection Act (Hansard).

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

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