ORG policy update/2016-w10

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 07/03/2016

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ORG's Work

  • ORG issued a response to the UN Special Rapporteur report on the Investigatory Powers Bill.
  • ORG started a fundraiser with Don't Spy on Us coalition for a new ad campaign.

Official Meetings

  • Jim Killock attended parliamentary round table on the IP Bill with Liberal Democrats.
  • Jim Killock attended a meeting hosted by Mozilla about online advertising, ad blocking and consumer attitudes with Pagefair.


Question on progress with plans for digital government

Conservative Ben Howlett MP asked about the plans for digital government. Matthew Hancock MP, the Minister for Cabinet Office and Paymaster General responded that they had now published over 24,000 open datasets, and are transforming more public services.

Ben Howlett followed with a question whether the consultation on better use of data in government could lead to long-term complications around information governance in government being resolved.

Matthew Hancock MP responded that the better use of data consultation is about maximising opportunities for proportionate, secure and well-governed data sharing, including allowing world-leading research and statistics greater access to datasets as part of a wider programme to modernise and simplify the UK’s data landscape.

Second Reading of the Investigatory Powers Bill

MPs will next consider the rushed Bill at Second Reading in the House of Commons. The date for Second Reading is expected to be Tuesday 15 March 2016. The Bill is is entering its Second Reading after merely "cosmetic changes" were made following recommendations of three Parliamentary reports (Privacy International - Investigatory Powers Bill published: Minimal changes are not even cosmetic). The same concern has been raised by Liberty (Safe and Sound: Transparency and redress). David Anderson (Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation) offers a review of the Bill here.

Second Reading Debate of Criminal Offences (Misuse of Digital Technologies and Services) (Consolidation) Bill

A debate is set to take place on 11 March 2016 to discuss Criminal Offences Bill following its Second Reading. The Bill targets misuse of digital devices, technologies, systems and services for the purposes of committing or preparing to commit a crime. The Bill was introduced to the Parliament on 09 March 2016 as a Private Member's Bill.

Free School Meals (Automatic Registration of Eligible Children) Bill is due to go through its Second Reading in the House of Commons

This Private Member's Bill would provide local authorities with powers to identify and automatically register all children eligible for free school meals. Signing up for free meal scheme has been voluntary and the responsibility of parents/legal guardians prior to the Bill. The automatic registration raises questions of stigmatisation as it was reported already in 2012 by the Institute for Social and Economic Research. More than one quarter of eligible children do not use the benefit of free school meals. The whole situation casts an interesting light on the consultation on data sharing in government that would suggest vulnerable groups should be taken into account to prevent their further stigmatisation. However, the Bill being a Private Member's Bill it is considered to be very unlikely to pass.

BIS have issued a Call for Evidence on how Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) can be made more user-friendly

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is asking consumers who have experienced issues when consulting their terms and conditions to share their experiences with them. This is to support their efforts to a) make Terms and Conditions easier for people to understand and engage with, and b) to further incentivise business compliance with consumer protection rules. The Call for Evidence will close on 25 April 2016 and can be submitted here.

The Independent Commission on Freedom of Information publishes final report

The report found that the Freedom of Information Act is working well and there will be no legal changes following its review led by Matthew Hancock, Cabinet Office minister.

Other UK developments

Nominet published an update on .UK domains suspended for criminal activity

The criminal activity report shows that 3889 domains were suspended over one year period. The largest number of suspensions came from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit.

Nominet are also currently collecting feedback on proposed changes to the Policy and Procedure documents that outline their Dispute Resolution Service. Submissions are due 24 March 2016.

CPS publishes new guidelines on the prosecution of online abuse

The Crown Prosecution Service updated their guidelines on social media to incorporate new cyber-enabled crime and its prosecution. The new guidelines target such issues as revenge pornography and creation of fake profiles. A public consultation has been launched with the deadline set to 12 May 2016.

International Developments

Apple fights a court order to create software to unlock iPhone

Apple was handed a request to, initially, enable unlocking of a single iPhone belonging to one of the killers in mass shooting in December in San Bernardino. Apple's refusal to do so sparked a great discussion on where the limits of digital security and national security are. If the FBI is successful in forcing Apple to comply with its request, a precedent would be set for other countries to ask Apple for the same software tool.

UN Special Rapporteur labels Investigatory Powers Bill as a "bad example"

UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci, used his first report to voice his concerns over the legislation. His initial assessment of the newest version of the bill “leads to serious concern about the value of some of the revisions most recently introduced". The Special Rapporteur in his report "invites the UK Government to work closely with the mandate, especially in the context of its thematic study on surveillance, in an effort to identify proportionate measures which enhance security without being overly privacy-intrusive".

ORG Press Coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2016-03-09-The Register-The Register- UN rapporteur: 'Bad example' UK should bin the Snoopers' Charter
Author: Alexander J Martin
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the effects of the Investigatory Powers Bill around the world.
2016-03-09-The Inquirer-The Inquirer- United Nations shames the UK over privacy and the Investigatory Powers Bill
Author: Dave Neal
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the effects of the Investigatory Powers Bill around the world.
2016-03-09-The Guardian-The Guardian- UK setting bad example on surveillance, says UN privacy chief
Author: Ewen MacAskill
Summary:Jim Killock quoted on the effects of the Investigatory Powers Bill around the world.

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