ORG policy update/2016-w19

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 09/05/2016.

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ORG's Work

  • We have been extremely busy this week after we launched a new Don't Spy On Us ad campaign against the IP Bill featuring some of the world's most famous dictators on Tuesday. You could have seen our ads in the Guardian, Telegraph, and City AM and on the Guardian website on Wednesday the whole day. You can support the campaign for call to reform the IPBill on the Don't Spy On Us website.
  • We are still preparing for Hacking – we are going to meet to ‘hack’ the future of web blocking and future uses for Blocked. Register here.
  • ORG has been preparing a strategy to collect evidence for our response to the consultation on panorama and ancillary copyright. More updates will follow, watch this space.

Official Meetings

  • Javier Ruiz, ORG's Policy Director, attended a meeting at the Cabinet Office with other civil society members and academics to check the government's response to the data sharing consultation and to ensure they take submissions into account properly.
  • Jim Killock and Javier Ruiz had a meeting with Dutch local politicians discussing open data and its implications for privacy.
  • Jim Killock attended a launch of the Digital Bill of Rights.



The Investigatory Powers Bill is still going through the Report Stage and is due to soon move onto its Third Reading in the House of Commons. The dates still have not been announced.

The IP Bill Public Committee saw amendments introduced by Labour and, especially, the SNP trying to patch up holes in the Bill; however, the Public Committee did not accept most of the amendments. Quite a few amendments were withdrawn and not voted on, so they could be discussed later in the House and possibly get more support. The amendments that were agreed on are predominantly of grammatical and syntactical nature and do very little to address concerns brought up regarding the Bill. Privacy International put all the new amendments together to show how much has changed in the Bill.

Jim Killock, in support of the massive ad campaign against the IPBill, summarised what makes the Bill unsuitable for democracies.

Privacy International Files Judicial Review

Privacy International also filed a Judicial Review challenging the Investigatory Powers Tribunal's decision on issuing general hacking warrants. The decision of the IPT in 2014 accepted the Government's position that GCHQ could use “thematic warrants”. The Judicial Review has further implications for the IPBill.

“The inclusion of these warrants is directly contrary to the explicit recommendation of the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, which recommended that both interception and hacking warrants not be "used as a way to issue thematic warrants concerning a very large number of people.”

Oral and Written Evidence to the Human Rights Committee Published

Martin Scheinin gave evidence on the IPBill's impact on human rights to the Human Rights Committee on 27 April 2016. The oral evidence is available online together with supplementary evidence submitted to Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Committee. In his letter, Scheinin explains how the IPBill impacts on the rights to non-discrimination and association and freedom of movement.

Oral Question on the IP Bill

Gavin Newlands, SNP, asked David Cameron a question during the Prime Minister's Questions regarding the IP Bill. He demanded to know why the PM's position of self-proclaimed defender of civil liberties in opposition changed to advocating ineffective mass surveillance in government.

David Cameron responded by disagreeing and defended himself with a stance claiming it is necessary to modernise state's capabilities to keep the country safe.

Written Question on Cyber Bullying

Jamie Reed MP asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans are being drafted to prevent cyber bullying.

Ed Vaizey MP responded that the government is tackling the issue of cyber bullying by cooperating with industry, schools, charities and parents. The Government sees educating young people as a key to battling cyberbullying and supports schools in creating their own policies with preventive measures. Additionally,

“The Government continues to work closely with social media companies and other relevant actors and experts to make sure they are committed to protecting children and young people who use their platforms.”

Written Question on IP Rights

The Earl of Clancarty submitted a written question to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills regarding research into awareness of small businesses about intellectual property rights.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe responded the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) conducted IP Awareness Survey in early 2015. Key findings reveal that

  • 96% of firms have not valued their IP,
  • 79% of firms did not know that telling people about an invention before applying for a patent could lead to an unsuccessful application,
  • 28% of firms check they are not infringing other people’s IP, the most popular IP management activity amongst respondents,
  • 20% of firms indicated that they license their IP, allowing others to use it for a fee.

Other National Developments

Lauri Love Ruling

Lauri Love, accused of allegedly hacking into US government computers accessing massive quantities of sensitive data, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday which ruled he does not need to disclose his passwords to decrypt seized computer equipment to the National Crime Agency. The ruling by District Judge Nina Tempia explained that the NCA's application does not make for a compelling case due to them not using a correct procedure to obtain the keys.

Love faces potential extradition to the US because of his alleged involvement in online protests that followed persecution of activist Aaron Swartz. He filed a civil case earlier to reclaim his devices that were seized from his home upon his arrest in 2013. No charges were brought against him in the UK but the NCA was trying to confirm the data on devices belonged to Love before they were returned. The NCA tried to bypass RIPA, by filing a civil claim, that should have been originally used to compel suspects to hand over their encryption keys. This route would not provide the NCA with a desired result because of the safeguards in the section 55 and the protections of the Code of Practice.

A statement from the initiative fighting Love's extradition said this ruling prevented

“a dangerous precedent that would have given UK police new powers to compel people to decrypt their electronic devices, even if they are not suspected of a crime.”

Love's legal battles regarding extradition will continue on 28 and 29 June.

IPO- IP Enforcement Plan until 2020

The Intellectual Property Office published their new strategy for the next four years setting out how the government will make effective, proportionate and accessible enforcement of IP rights their priority. The IPO aims to maintain UK's position of a world leader in intellectual property enforcement.

The new document, titled Protecting Creativity, Supporting Innovation: IP Enforcement 2020, outlines main points that will become IPO's focus over the upcoming years:

  • Reducing the level of illegal content online.
  • Tackling the trade in counterfeit goods.
  • Further strengthening the legal framework to facilitate easier access to justice.
  • Increasing education, awareness and building respect for IP.
  • Making it safer for UK rights holders and businesses to trade internationally.
  • Improving the evidence base.

All of main points are framed around helping the consumer to recognise and avoid copyright infringing websites. The strategy includes plans to potentially implement “notice and trackdown” enabling rights-holders to send notices of infringement and take action against them. In the same line of thought, the report emphasizes efforts that are going to be placed on encouraging consumers to purchase products from legitimate sources and avoid pirating.

The plan will strengthen the efforts of bringing down pirate sites, an action previously started by adopting the Infringing Website List (IWL). It will continue depriving the pirate services of their income via “Follow the Money” approach. The government will partner up with social media and search engines to minimise the availability of infringing content.

The government also plans on issuing requests to their overseas partners to enforce domain and hosting bans. Search engines and social media sites can expect more guidelines, or potentially codes of practice, over the next four years regulating their involvement in the matter. This time period will see even more site blockages from internet service providers and will involve small businesses in the process.


Draft Law on Protecting Whistleblowers

European Greens presented a draft law that would secure protection of whistleblowers. The recent leaks of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) strengthening protection of trade secrets prompted the European Greens to draft a law that would secure some protections to those who feel it is necessary to blow the whistle. The new law would be protecting current and former employees and contractors, in both private and public sector across Europe.

A summary of the draft outlines main areas it aims to cover: scope of the directive, protected disclosures, reporting channels whistle-blowing procedures, protection of whistleblowers, burden of proof, and reporting sanctions.

The whistleblower proposal still needs to gain a cross-party support within the European Parliament. The draft law is likely to be a long shot; whistleblower protection is rather unpopular among businesses that are easily capable of putting more pressure on the European bodies.

ORG Media Coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2016-05-10-Independent-Investigatory Powers Bill: Privacy campaigners launch petition against Home Office over new 'snooper's bill'
Author: Matt Payton
Summary: ORG launched a new ad campaign as a member of Don't Spy On Us coalition against the IPBill.
2016-05-10-Guardian-Kim Jong-un becomes surprise poster child for UK privacy campaign
Author: Ewen MacAskill & Owen Bowcott
Summary: ORG launched a new ad campaign as a member of Don't Spy On Us coalition against the IPBill.
2016-05-10- The register-Investigatory Powers Bill: As supported by world's most controlling men
Author: Alexander J Martin

Summary: ORG launched a new ad campaign as a member of Don't Spy On Us coalition against the IPBill.

2016-05-10-Politics-The powers Theresa May is asking for would make Putin blush

Author: Ian Dunt
Summary: ORG launched a new ad campaign as a member of Don't Spy On Us coalition against the IPBill.

ORG Contact Details

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