ORG parliamentary and policy update/2014-w41

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

Greetings PPU readers!

Although Parliament is not currently sitting, party conference season provides no opportunity for the vigilant to rest. Both the Liberal Democrats and UKIP have announced policies that will affect the world of digital rights if enacted. Alongside that, we can update you on two of our legal campaigns and the growing scandal of police forces using RIPA to investigate the communications data of journalists who were not suspected of crimes themselves but merely suspected of being in contact with police whistleblowers.

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Official Meetings

Jim Killock attended a conference at Wilton Park on Monday and Tuesday entitled "Privacy, Surveillance and the Internet." On Wednesday he attended a meeting about Magna Carta celebrations with academics and openDemocracy.

NSA and GCHQ updates

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

Next Friday, October 17th, there are preview screenings of the upcoming Snowden documentary, CITIZENFOUR, in over 50 cinemas across the UK. Visit for details of where it's being shown.

Consultations and departments

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

The Society of Editors has written an open letter to the Prime Minister regarding police targeting journalists with RIPA

The Society of Editors has written a letter to the Prime Minister regarding police use of RIPA to access journalistic information. Their complaint notes that "journalists were targeted without any apparent suggestion of criminality on their part or that national security was involved."

Security specialists state their concerns to The Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy regarding e-voting

The Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy is "investigating the opportunities digital technology can bring for parliamentary democracy in the UK." The Foundation for Information Policy Research commented how the adoption of electronic voting in the UK necessitated more security measures than the Speaker's Commission had considered.

Non-ministerial Government Departments

IOCCO inquiry into the acquisition of comms data by police to identify journalistic sources.

The Interception of Communications Commissioner has announced an inquiry into police use of spying powers used against journalists.

Director General of NCA argues for a greater loss of digital freedoms

Keith Bristow, the Director General of the National Crime Agency, was interviewed by the Guardian. He said that the powers the NCA have to investigate criminals using modern technology were inadequate and needed boosting. He argued that Britons must accept a greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from serious criminals and terrorists in the Internet age.


Home Affairs Select Committee to investigate police use of RIPA to snoop on journalists

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has announced his intention to write to every police force in the country for details of their usage of RIPA. Reported by the Guardian, Vaz stated how the investigatory regulation was not fit for purpose and needed "total refurbishment".

European Union

Free Trade Agreements

TTIP Directives Published

The negotiating mandate for the EU free trade agreement with the US, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP has been published. Lee Williams noted in the Independent how secrecy has characterised the negotiations to date.

Law and Legal Cases

Judgment expected in Trade Mark case

Open Rights Group is expecting a decision in the coming weeks in the case brought by luxury brands Cartier International and related companies. Cartier are calling for BSkyB, BT, EE, TalkTalk and VirginMedia to block a number of websites that they claim have been using the brands’ trade marks for counterfeiting activity. In its third party submission to the Court, ORG stressed its neutrality about the details of this particular case. ORG recognises ISPs being asked to block websites on the basis of alleged trade mark (rather than copyright) infringement could set a precedent. TORG's concerns are that if the claimants are successful, the ruling could be used as a basis for applications for blocking orders that are contrary to the public interest.

Application to intervene in judicial review on the lawfulness of DRIPA

Open Rights Group have made an application to the court to intervene in a legal challenge to the new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIP Act), launched by Tom Watson MP and David Davis MP, asserting that the act is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. In the event that the court grants permission for the intervention, ORG will make submissions on the relevance of the EU context.

Political Parties

The Liberal Democrats pledge to protect journalists from RIPA requests

A conference motion passed by the Liberal Democrats included a call to provide greater protection for communications records which are legally privileged or relate to journalistic sources. The motion was proposed and drafted by Dr Evan Harris, a former MP and associate director of campaign Hacked Off. It includes a public interest defence for the Data Protection Act, Computer Misuse Act, RIPA and the Bribery Act.

UKIP announce manifesto pledges

Among the manifesto pledges UKIP have revealed on their website are an opposition to the sale of NHS data to third parties and a declaration to withdraw the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

ORG Media coverage

Don't Spy On Us: "Surveillance: how do we reform RIPA & protect civil liberty?"

Julian Huppert MP warned that Labour were likely to bring the "Snooper's Charter" at the Don't Spy on Us talk at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow. The talk was considerately described as a "fringe event on mass surveillance" by the Guardian.

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

ORG contact details

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