ORG policy update/2016-w35

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 29/08/2016.

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The Committee stage of the IPBill will resume next Monday 5 September.

The House of Lords has not discussed yet the provisions on bulk powers. They will likely be a hot topic following the publication of the Anderson's report on review of the bulk powers last week. The only concrete recommendation Anderson made in the report was to create a new Technical Advisory Panel of independent security-cleared experts to support the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

Lord Rosser already tabled an amendment that would do exactly that. The amendment calls for creation of the Technical Advisory Panel within six months of the passing of the IPBill.

The Panel will be appointed by and report to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. Its main purpose is to advise the Commissioner on the impact of changing technology on investigatory powers. The amendment also accommodates Anderson's recommendation for advise on “the availability and development of techniques to use investigatory powers while minimising interference with privacy”.

Other national developments

Corbyn's digital manifesto

Jeremy Corbyn announced his digital strategy this week if he is elected as the UK's Prime Minister. It has been reported Corbyn has found inspiration in the campaign of US senator Bernie Sanders using technology to enhance their electoral prospects.

The new set of policies launched by Corbyn are designed to “democratise the internet”. The policies tackle such areas as universal high speed broadband and mobile connectivity, digital access to learning materials, community media freedom, digital citizen passport providing a portable identity for online activities, programming made wide accessible and charter of digital liberties.

The charter of digital liberties (or digital bill of rights) was previously introduced by the Liberal Democrats. Even though it is very welcome by the digital rights activists that Corbyn puts digital rights at the heart of his agenda, he, and Labour under his leadership, supported and failed to create an opposition to the Investigatory Powers Bill. The IPBill has been labelled one of the most draconian pieces of surveillance legislation among Western democracies.

The manifesto was also missing any mentions of how these policies would protect data they plan on using (especially in the case of the digital passports).


Leaked draft on copyright reform

More of the documents related to the planned EU copyright reform have been leaked. Following the leak of the Impact Assessment from last week, a document titled ‘Promoting a fair and efficient European copyright-based economy in the digital single market’ and the full text of the proposed new Directive on Copyright in the Single Market were released to public.

The leaks show a rather disappointing course the copyright reform is taking. Pre-legislative discussions that were held do not appear to take into account many of the positions except for a few industry lobbyists.

The drafts revealed several protectionist measures mostly for authors and publishers. The leaked Impact Assessment on ancillary copyright was discussed here last week. In addition to that, the draft Copyright Reform is addressing the “value gap” created by the disparity between the numbers of people watching online content and the revenues received. Essentially, these provisions tackle practices of Youtube.

Several new mandatory exceptions regarding copyright were included in the drafts. Overall, they could be labelled as positive changes, however, they only cover a fraction of exceptions recommended by civil society and the European Parliament. The exceptions are limited to libraries, education and cultural institutions. They would be able to use copyrighted material for scientific research by public interest organisations, online teaching and archiving copies for preservation.

Javier Ruiz dissected the leaked documents and explains in more detail what the 'once-in-twenty-years' reform of copyright will accomplish according to the leaks.

BEREC guidelines on Net Neutrality

Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) launched guidelines on the implementation by national regulators of European net neutrality rules.

The guidelines are generally praised by digital rights activists for not slowing down the internet traffic. The consultation on net neutrality received an overwhelming amount of responses in support of net neutrality rules.

Despite the positive atmosphere surrounding the overall outcome of the guidelines, zero-rating in certain circumstances has not been completely scraped off the table. The concept of zero-rating is where mobile operators and ISPs do not charge users for the data they use to access certain applications such as Facebook, Wikipedia, or WhatsApp.

National watchdogs will be required to assess circumstances on a case-by-case basis. However, it is prohibited to allow users to access a specific company's service for free after using up their data cap. That would mean that telecoms operators will not be allowed to slow down the traffic for commercial gain, merely to improve the quality of their service.

The guidelines also partly cover ad-blocking. Network-level ad-blocking might be allowed if ads are causing unreasonable congestion. The BEREC guidelines do not cover ad-blocking on the user level.

Torrentfreak has reported that even though telecoms are not allowed to slow down traffic in favour of some services, they can slow it down at expense of BitTorrent transfers. It would be possible for ISPs to throttle Bit Torrent traffic if that would improve the overall transmission quality.

International developments

Facebook using data from WhatsApp

It was announced that WhatsApp will start sharing users' phone numbers with Facebook for purposes of advertisement and friend recommendations across the social media network.

The announcement was followed by a federal complaint against Facebook. The complaint uses grounds of the Section 5 of the US Federal Trade Commission Act prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

Upon Facebook acquiring WhatsApp, WhatsApp made a commitment to its users and privacy authorities not to disclose user data to Facebook.

“Above all else, I want to make sure you understand how deeply I value the principle of private communication. […] Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: […] If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it.”

Users recently received a notification of WhatsApp's updated terms of service. They still have 30 days to opt-out of sharing their data with Facebook.

The Information Commissioner's Office said they would monitor how WhatsApp shares their data with Facebook. They do not have the power to compel organisations to seek approval from the ICO before changing their approaches, but they need to remain within data protection laws.

Australian whistleblowers at risk

The new Australian law on data retention will allow police and other investigative bodies to seek access to phone records, emails and browser histories of journalists to uncover their sources responsible for leaking confidential information.

The new provisions raise serious concerns over the ability of journalists to to hold policy makers to account. To prevent such conduct, a new Journalist Information Warrant scheme was introduced. However, the scheme is flawed. Over 20 agencies have access to the scheme and journalists are not allowed to challenge the warrants.

Under these circumstances, journalists would end up waiting for their sources to be prosecuted before finding out if their data was accessed.

ORG media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2016-08-30-BuzzFeed-Jeremy Corbyn Still Supports “Snoopers’ Charter” Despite Launching A Digital Bill Of Rights
Author: James Ball
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on Jeremy Corbyn needing to use his mandate to oppose the IPBill if he truly wants to keep digital rights at the heart of his policy agenda.

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