ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w38

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

Top Stories:

  • New documents reveal GCHQ has port-scanned 27 countries to find vulnerable computers to attack
  • American Federal Communications Committee fines telecoms giant, Verizon $7.4 million for violating customer privacy
  • EE faces mishap with content block, applies filtering to customers regardless of settings

This is ORG's Parliamentary and Policy Update for the week beginning 15/09/2014

If you are reading this online, you can also subscribe to the email version.

Official Meetings

Jim Killock attended the CREATe "All Hands" 2014 conference in Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday, as a respondent to a panel on copyright, privacy and human rights.

Javier Ruiz attended the launch party of, who will be announcing more information on their mission today.

Elizabeth Knight and Javier attended a meeting with representatives from Vodafone's legal and technical teams to discuss the company's progress on their use of mobile data for analytics projects.

Pam Cowburn participated in a Table Talks debate on privacy at Soho House.

NSA and GCHQ updates

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

GCHQ programme scans entire countries to find vulnerable computers for attack

Through a programme called HACIENDA, GCHQ has completed port-scans of 27 countries, in order to find vulnerable computers to infect. The purpose of infecting these computers is to obscure the origin of the attack, by 'sitting' between the attacker and the target (these computers are known as Operational Relay Boxes).

Documents reveal this tactic is being used by other members of the Five Eyes intelligence network. The Canadian intelligence agency (CSEC) are attempting to make the scanning process automated, as is GCHQ. (

Consultations and departments

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

ORG responds to copyright consultation; rejects 10 year sentencing proposal for online copyright infringement

ORG has responded to a copyright consultation for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), asking for opinions on whether the penalty for online copyright infringement should be the same as offline copyright infringement.

ORG has rejected these proposals on the following grounds:

  • The consultation is flawed on the basis that it will invite a range of superficial opinions to determine penal policy
  • The terminology of 'copyright infringement' is misleading as it does not reflect on the IPO's explanation of online infringement: "criminal implications that arise from infringing an exclusive right of a copyright owner varies according to the type of right that has been infringed rather than whether the work is in physical or online form as such"

You can view the rest of the consultation response on our website.

Government response to statistics and open data report

The Government has published their response to the Public Administration Select Committee's Tenth report for the 2013-2014 session.

You can view their response to "Statistics and Open Data: Harvesting unused knowledge, empowering citizens and improving public services" on the parliament's website.

E-voting consultation opened to public

Following the Digital Democracy Commission's meeting with its commissioner on 3 September, a consultation has been launched, inviting views on online voting.

Submissions can be made through email or social media in either written, video or sound format. More information is available on

The meeting from September 3rd is available to watch online.

International Developments

US Federal Communications Commission fines American telecoms giant $7.4 million for violating customer privacy

The American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined American communications giant, Verizon, $7.4 million for violating consumer privacy. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau found that the company had failed to notify approximately two million new customers of their privacy rights and how their information is used in marketing campaigns.

As part of the settlement, Verizon has agreed to notify their customers of their opt-out rights on every bill for the next three years (FCC).

European Union

MEPs make calls for better integration of European single digital market

During Tuesday's debate with the EU Internal Market Commissioner, Michel Barnier, MEPs stressed the need to adopt stronger measures for the integration of the single digital market. They said measures should include ending mobile roaming charges, promoting e-commerce, improved data protection, neutral treatment of service providers and ensuring open access to the Internet (Europa).

Commercial Stakeholders

EE applies content block to wide range of customers

The mobile network operator EE (Everything Everywhere) suffered from a technical issue on Thursday that applied their EE Content Lock filter to a wide range of customers, regardless of whether they had enabled the setting. EE states the issue is only affecting "a small number" of customers. The block has been affecting websites including Facebook, YouTube, and the domain used by Twitter.

Apple launches new website explaining privacy rules

In response to a recent security breach of the Apple iCloud system, Apple has launched a new website, explaining how their customer's privacy is protected. The website will be updated at least once a year, whenever there are significant changes to the company's privacy policy. The website also explains how their services are encrypted and ways consumers can increase their protection (Wired).

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

Staff page