ORG policy update/2015-w43

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 19/10/2015

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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

House of Commons debate on the Wilson Doctrine

On Monday MPs debated the operation of the Wilson Doctrine. The emergency debate was timetabled following last week's IPT ruling that found that the Wilson Doctrine, a convention protecting MPs communications from interception by government surveillance and security agencies, had no legal basis and did not provide absolute protection. During the debate Theresa May MP argued that the Wilson Doctrine was still in existence and that it was never intended to offer blanket protection for MPs from communications interception. Other MPs argued that the Doctrine needed to be clarified following the ruling, with Chris Bryant MP calling for it to be set out in legislation. The Home Secretary stated that the draft Investigatory Powers Bill would address the issue of safeguards and judicial authorisation when it is published shortly.


LIBE Committee approve anti-radicalisation report

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament has approved a non-binding report with recommendations on an EU anti-radicalisation strategy. The report refers to 'Internet companies' having a legal responsibility to remove illegal content relating to violent extremism. EDRi have labelled the report "incoherent and short-sighted", highlighting in particular the lack of evidence of effectiveness and failure to consider possible disadvantages of the measures. They argue that the terminology used in the report in relation to Internet measures is not clear and does not correspond with language used in other EU legal instruments. The final vote on the report will take place in November.

Irish High Court quashes DPC decision on Facebook complaint

Following the CJEU's decision on the Safe Harbor agreement, the Irish High Court has overturned the Irish Data Protection Commissioner's decision to reject privacy activist Max Schrems's complaint against Facebook. Schrems had argued that the transfer of data by Facebook to the US was a breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights because the data was not protected from US surveillance programmes like PRISM. The DPC has agreed to investigate the complaint and deliver a decision quickly.

International Developments

US House of Representatives approve bill in response to CJEU Safe Harbor ruling

The US House of Representatives has given its assent to the Judicial Redress Act, which, if passed, would extend some of the data protection rights of US citizens to EU citizens. EU citizens would be able to seek redress for misuse of their data, which would address one of the issues raised by the CJEU in their ruling. The Act alone would not be sufficient to meet all of the EU's requirements for data transfer, but is essential for another EU-US data transfer agreement to be negotiated. The Bill will now passes to the Senate for approval before it can become law.

US Senate vote surveillance bill through to next stages

The Cy­ber­se­cur­ity In­form­a­tion Shar­ing Act (CISA) has passed easily through the US Senate, with just several contentious amendments still to vote on. The Bill has been criticised by privacy and civil liberties groups for increasing surveillance. Commentators have argued that the new law will cause further difficulties for US-EU data transfer negotiations after the CJEU Safe Harbor ruling highlighted US surveillance practices as problematic.

Facebook announce notifications of state hacking for users

Facebook has announced that it will inform users if the company suspects their accounts have been hacked by state actors. The company has not revealed how it will identify such attacks. Suspicions of state surveillance will lead the company to prompt users upon login to turn on Facebook's two-factor authentication service.

Microsoft president asks US government to follow EU data protection law

Brad Smith, president and chief legal office at Microsoft, has published a blog post in which he calls for the US government to comply with EU law following the recent CJEU judgment declaring the EU-US Safe Harbor agreement invalid. In the blog, Smith suggests data protection rights should travel with personal data when it crosses borders and proposes a framework of safeguards for access to such personal data by governments.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2015-10-22 – International Business Times - Investigatory Powers Act: Civil liberty advocates slam 'intrusive' Snooper's Charter
Author: Anthony Cuthbertson
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the dangers of state hacking and the lack of accountability of the surveillance agencies.
2015-10-21 – Business Insider UK - British spies will be given new legal powers to hack your smartphone and computer
Author: Rob Price
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the dangers of state hacking and the lack of accountability of the surveillance agencies.
2015-10-21 – RT - GCHQ handed new smartphone-hacking legal powers
Author: -
Summary: ORG mentioned in an article on the upcoming Investigatory Powers Bill.
2015-10-21 – Boing Boing - ORG celebrates its tenth birthday: a decade of UK digital rights!
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: Article about ORG's 10th birthday.
2015-10-19 – The Guardian - Victim of state spying? Facebook will tell you
Author: Alex Hern
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on Facebook's plans to notify users of suspected attacks on their accounts by state-sponsored actors.
2015-10-19 – Buzzfeed News - The Government Wants People To Challenge ISIS Extremists On Facebook And Twitter
Author: Emily Ashton and Hussein Kesvani
Summary: Pam Cowburn quoted on government plans to force internet companies to police content posted on their sites.
2015-10-19 – CS Monitor - Facebook now warns of government hack, but it won’t tell you how it knows
Author: Maddy Crowell
Summary: ORG mentioned in article on Facebook's plans to notify users of suspected attacks on their accounts by state-sponsored actors.
2015-10-18 – Herald Scotland - MSPs offered 'digital self-defence classes' in wake of GCHQ spying claims
Author: Paul Hutcheon
Summary: Article on ORG offering training on keeping communications secure to MSPs in response to the IPT Wilson Doctrine ruling. Pol Clementsmith's letter to MPs quoted.

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