ORG policy update/2016-w26

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 27/06/2016.

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A note on the EU Referendum

The UK voted to leave the European Union last week but we still don’t know exactly what form Brexit will take. There will inevitably be implications for privacy and free speech rights in the UK. However, at the moment, nothing has changed. The UK must adhere to EU law, implement any new regulations and directives and abide by any decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). This policy update will then continue covering all issues that might affect any future developments of digital rights and free speech in the UK.

ORG's work

  • ORG has been busy this week assessing the impact the UK leaving the EU will have on our work.
  • We still continue working on the IPBill trying to get more information across to the House of Lords. ORG, together with the rest of the Don't Spy On Us coalition, have been preparing amendments for the IPBill to be discussed in the Lords.
  • ORG London is organising a talk on the 8 July with Naomi Colvin, from the Courage Foundation, about Lauri Love and his extradition case (read more on the story further down). You are very welcome to join in. Please sign up on Meetup ORG London!
  • ORG Birmingham is all set to screen the Haystack documentary by Scenes of Reason in Birmingham on 4 July. The film will be followed by a debate about Brexit, digital rights and surveillance in the UK. If you are around, you can sign up here!
  • The Haystack documentary will be screened by the Ferret in Edinburgh on 5 July. ORG will take part in a panel discussion after the screening with the documentary director Olivia Cappuccini and Professor Charles Raab. Sign up here if you are around!



The House of Lords debated the IPBill on Monday 27 July. The Second Reading of the Bill saw a quite clear polarisation of arguments made by Liberal Democrat Lords on one side, and Conservative and Labour Peers on the other.

The debate started, as usual, by discussing the right balance between privacy and security. The Conservative members of the House suggested the Lords should not preoccupy themselves with amendments that had already been discussed in the House of Commons. Several Conservative Lords also defended the necessity of the Internet Connection Records (ICRs) and bulk powers as a means to fight crime.

The Labour peers predominantly agreed with the Conservatives and showed signs of a very moderate opposition on issues relating to journalistic freedom, definition of crimes from misuse of powers and the operational case for bulk powers.

Lib Dem peers of the House of Lords, Lord Paddick and Lord Strasburger openly criticised the Bill and suggested more work and amendments are necessary to protect people's privacy. Lord Paddick, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in London's Metropolitan Police Service, pointed out that the ICRs provisions have not been requested by the security services and therefore are redundant.

Lord Strasburger also argued against ICRs by comparing it to Denmark's plans to store logs of Internet records. The Danish government abandoned this because of the costs of data retention. Strasburger also warned against a number of other issues raised previously by the opposition during the debates in the House of Commons: request filter, bulk powers, authorization of intercept warrants and the role of judicial commissioner.

The topics most often mentioned across the House as being in need of amendments were:

  • thematic warrants for internet service providers
  • definition of 'journalist' for the provision on protection of journalistic sources
  • legal professional privilege
  • request filter

The Bill is now going to be scrutinised by the Public Committee. The Committee's first sitting is scheduled for the 11 July. The scrutiny will continue on 13 and 18 July and should be concluded by 20 July.

Due to the current political turmoil in the UK, the IPBill is likely to be affected by the outcome of the last week's referendum. ORG has called for the progress of the Bill to be put on hold until a new Prime Minister is in place.

Pam Cowburn explored how the IPBill will be affected by Brexit considering the Watson/Davis ruling, a possible general election, the Labour Shadow Cabinet resignations and EU data protection legislation.

Written question on intelligence services

Andrew Slaughter MP asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date and through what process the use of equipment interference was avowed for the security and intelligence agencies.

John Hayes MP, Minister of State for the Home Department (Security), responded that the use of equipment interference by the security and intelligence agencies was avowed on the 6 February 2015. The use of equipment interference by the security and intelligence agencies is authorised under Sections 5 and 7 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and statutory oversight is provided by the Intelligence Services Commissioner.

Other national developments

Lauri Love extradition hearing

Lauri Love, accused of allegedly infiltrating US government servers used by, among others, NASA, FBI and the US Army, faced a two-day extradition hearing this week. Judge Nina Tempia bailed Love and the case has been adjourned to 20 July when both sides will make their final arguments.

US prosecutors want to extradite Love for questioning after he allegedly accessed staff records and credit card details stored on the US government systems between 2012 and 2013. He was arrested previously in 2013 and 2015 and has been under police bail since then.

Lawyers defending Love argue the extradition should be stopped under section 83A of the Extradition Act. This section forbids extradition that would not be in the interest of justice. Love's defense also stressed that he has Asperger's Syndrome and suffers from depression. His team also used section 91 of the 2003 act to argue for blocking the extradition. The section states that extradition should be halted if "the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him." Love's health conditions make him more vulnerable to commit suicide if extradited.

The final decision on whether to extradite Love to the US will be made by Judge Tempia by September.


Privacy Shield

The Privacy Shield deal has been finalised by both parties and is now with the EU national representatives who still need to scrutinise it. The US agreed to terms proposed by the European Commission last Friday after several weeks of debates.

The agreement includes:

  • a written commitment from the White House stating that intelligence services can only engage in bulk collection of data sent from the EU to the U.S. under specific and limited preconditions;
  • a commitment that the ombudsman for privacy issues will be independent from national security services; and
  • explicit data retention rules requiring companies to delete data that no longer meets the purpose for which it was collected.

Article 31 Working Group, formed of national data experts, now has two weeks to discuss the agreement. The Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has been trying to speed up the decision-making by the working group after drafting the deal taking longer than anticipated. However, the national representatives intend to use the entire two-week period they are entitled to to scrutinise the draft deal. The Article 31 have scheduled a meeting for 4 July and the Commissioner Jourova is hoping to have the new deal approved by the Commission on 5 July.

In regards to the UK referendum, the vote to leave will not have any impact on the Privacy Shield in the short term. The Information Commissioner's Office said that the UK would most likely adopt a similar program after exiting the EU to keep an equal playing field with EU countries.

International developments


The German foreign intelligence service ( the Bundesnachrichtendienst - BND) is going to be put under increased oversight. The German cabinet has approved legislation that will establish agency oversight directly from the German Chancellor's office.

The tighter rules come after a series of revelations about the BND's spying activities, including spying on EU politicians and companies and supplying NSA with information from its secret files. The oversight board will able to carry out random checks on the practice of identifying telephone numbers, email and IP addresses provided by the NSA.

Even though the oversight is going to be strengthened, this legislation merely makes already existing practices legal. In this regard, it resembles the approach taken with the Investigatory Powers Bill in the UK. It is unlikely to put restrictions on spying capabilities of the foreign intelligence service.

The law has not been approved by the German parliament but both major parties support the new rules.

Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2016-06-24- The Register- Brexit and data protection: A period of shock and reflection
Author: Alexander J Martin
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on what the UK's response to Brexit should look like.
2016-06-27- The Inquirer-Snoopers' Charter: Open Rights Group pushes for post-Brexit postponement
Author: Dave Neal
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on putting the IPBill on hold until the political crisis is resolved.
2016-06-28- Telecom Paper -ORG wants IP Bill put on hold amid Brexit fall-out
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on putting the IPBill on hold until the political crisis is resolved.
2016-06-29- The Inquirer- Open Rights Group: UK citizens should still have some digital rights post-Brexit
Author: Graeme Burton
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on changes to digital rights post Brexit.
2016-06-30-Tech Week Europe-Open Rights Group: Brexit Puts UK Citizen Digital Rights At Risk
Author: Tom Jowitt
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on changes to digital rights post Brexit.

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