ORG policy update/2016-w43

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 24/10/2016.

If you are reading this online, you can also subscribe to the email version.

ORG's work

  • We’ve been busy with the DEBill this week preparing briefings and helping out with amendments on copyright, data sharing and age verification.
  • ORG Cambridge is organising their monthly meet up on 1 November to discuss the current state of digital rights, what they've done in the past month and what they are planning to do in the upcoming month.
  • Tom Chiverton (Local Organiser for ORG Manchester) will be giving a talk at the Festival of Social Science on how technology can be used in communities and activism. The event will take place on 11 November in Manchester. You can find out more here.
  • CryptoParties are a great way for anyone to learn how to install and use tools to help se-cure their online communications. Join ORG North East on 12 November to learn why we need to use these tools. All are welcome.



The DEBill concluded its scrutiny in the Public Bill Committee on Thursday 27 October.

During the two days this week, the Committee discussed Part 4 (Online Copyright) and Part 5 (Data Sharing) of the Bill.

Follow these links for full transcripts of this week’s sittings:

7th sitting (25 October)

8th sitting (25 October)

9th sitting (27 October)

10th sitting (27 October)

The Report stage dates have not be announced yet. Parliament is on recess until 14 November and it is likely the next stage will take place in the weeks following.

Online copyright infringement

Kevin Brennan MP, quoting ORG’s evidence to the Committee, asked the Minister for Digital Economy Matthew Hancock MP to comment on the wording regarding the definition of offences for online copyright infringement. You can watch a short clip of some of the main points here.

Brennan in his introduction to the Labour’s probing amendment to Clause 26 criticised the government’s use of “loss” and “risk of loss” to define liability for the offence of online copyright infringement. His criticism emphasised the lack of thresholds for both concepts and risks of creating a vast catchment area that would result in prosecution of ordinary users, not commercial scale infringers as intended by the Government. Brennan further pointed out that such definitions create opportunities for copyright trolls to threaten ordinary citizens with the new ten-year prison sentence.

However Labour have also put forward amendments that would regulate the way search engines deal with piracy. This amendment would require search engines to find a voluntary arrangement with rights holders how to tackle the problem. The voluntary arrangement is likely to involve result filtering by search engines and potentially further blocking by ISPs.

Watch Jim Killock on copyright.

Age verification and pornography

ORG published additional evidence upon a request from Claire Perry MP from our Blocked project regarding excessive blocking of websites by filters. The MPs were interested whether adult content filters work or if they cause problems.There are also worries about what kinds of "ancillary services" could be forced to stop trading with pornography companies who do not implement age verification.

Another proposal was aimed at creating 'default on' filters which could only be switched off after an account owner verified their age through the same technologies. Jim Killock highlights in a blog what issues protection of free speech will have to face if such proposals are to be passed.

Myles Jackman explains the problems with age verification on video.

Data sharing

Louise Haigh, the Shadow Minister for Digital Economy, took on the Data Sharing part of the Bill. In her speech (watch a short clip here) Haigh said this part of the DEBill is not ready to be discussed in the Committee and requires numerous amendments to deliver the necessary fix. She emphasised there is a serious lack of safeguards for data protection and privacy. Labour went on to introduce several amendments ORG consulted on to improve the state of Part 5.

Draft Codes of Practice for Data Sharing were published this week. They include some safeguards that do not appear in the Bill but they are still insufficient.

Watch Pam Cowburn talk about problems with data sharing.


The Report stage of the IPBill concluded last week. The Bill is due to move on to the Third Reading on 31 October followed by “ping pong” on 1 November.

Last week’s Report sittings showed still strong opposition from Liberal Democrats. Labour continued to be criticised for their inaction. Lord Paddick and Baroness Jones both explained why Labour opposition is needed.

During the last sittings, Lib Dems attempted to amend several provisions on the request filter and Internet Connection Records but were promptly stopped by Labour and Conservative Peers. However, the Report stage discussions brought some success for the protection of legal professional privilege and journalistic sources.

To understand what implications IPBill might have on minorities, in this case LGBT people, read this piece by Loz Kaye.

Full transcripts of both Report sittings last week can be found below:

Second Day (17 October)

Third Day (19 October)

Question on data protection

Chi Onwurah MP asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the Government has been doing to assess levels of awareness of the sensitivity of personal data and the important of protecting it among consumers and small businesses.

Matthew Hancock MP, the Minister of State for Digital Policy, responded that The Cyber Aware campaign aims to drive behaviour change amongst small businesses and individuals to adopt simple secure online behaviours.

Question on cybercrime

Drew Hendry asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what support the Government provides to businesses to prevent and recover from cyber-attacks.

Matthew Hancock MP responded that the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) aims to reduce risks by working with businesses to improve their cyber security. The NCSC also runs a Security Incident Response scheme helping businesses recover from a cyber incident.

Question on open data

Chi Onwurah MP asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what future role the Government expects open source software to have in industrial strategy for the digital economy and as an enabling platform.

Nick Hurd MP responded that the Government's Open Standard Principles are already helping to level the playing field for open source and proprietary software.

Question on open registers

Chi Onwurah MP asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what social and economic value his Department estimates the government data program will have on the economy of the open registers.

Chris Skidmore MP responded that open registers will transform how government uses data to drive benefits to citizens. Skidmore also expects open registers to stimulate a wide marketplace of products and services.

Surveillance Camera Commissioner consultation

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner launched a consultation on their draft national surveillance camera strategy. The consultation aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community, enable system operators to understand best practice and their legal obligations and to demonstrate compliance with the principles of the surveillance camera code of practice and other guidance.

The consultation runs until 6 December. To respond to the consultation follow the link.

Consultation on EU draft copyright reform

The Intellectual Property Office launched a consultation regarding the European Commission's draft legislation attempting to modernise the European copyright framework.

The government in particular is seeking vies on the costs and benefits of the proposals and suggestions for how to improve the language of the proposals. In their statement, the IPO emphasized they would appreciate comments on the possible impacts the legislation may have in light of the planned Brexit.

The EU draft of the Copyright Reform includes:

  • a draft Regulation and Directive implementing the Marrakesh Treaty granting exception to visually impaired people to be better able to access copyright content,
  • a draft Regulation on the exercise of copyright in certain online transmissions by broadcasting organisations,
  • a draft copyright Directive on adapting exceptions and limitations to the digital and cross-border environment, ensuring wider access to copyright content and achieving a well-functioning marketplace for copyright.

The consultation will run until 6 December. More information on submitting evidence can be found here.

Other national developments

MPs’ letter to Obama to stop Love’s extradition

More than 100 MPs signed a letter asking president Barack Obama to block Lauri Love's extradition to the US over alleged charges of hacking the FBI, American central bank and the US missile defence agency.

Love was told at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in September that he was fit to be extradited to the US to face trial. His defence has been arguing that Love has several conditions (Asperger Syndrome and depression) that would cause him to struggle in the US prison system and would make it more likely he would commit suicide while abroad.

MPs who added their names to the letter seek an “act of compassion” from Obama before he leaves the office. They are hoping he will stop the extradition order and Love will be able to face trial in the UK.


European Data Protection Supervisor’s opinion on GDPR

The European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, published his opinion on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) focusing on the Personal Information Management Systems (PIMS).

In his statement, Buttarelli acknowledged that most privacy policies serve the interests of providers. This systems makes it difficult for people to exercise their rights or manage their personal data online. PIMS is a system that will allow people to manage and control their online identity. The opinion outlines technology behind PIMS and principles it will operate on.

Campaign to protect citizens’ data in trade agreements

EDRi together with other 20 civil rights organisations sent a letter to the European Commission and Member States urging them to not “sacrifice citizens’ fundamental rights”.

The letter points out negative impacts the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) could have on personal data and its transfer and processing. These clauses are likely to be included in TiSA. Suggestions made by the civil rights groups encourage implementation of clauses ensuring that EU can suspend the flow of personal data if other parties to the agreement do not respect fundamental rights.

ORG media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2016-10-21-The Sun-BIG BONKER IS WATCHING British porn lovers’ sexual preferences to be ‘collected on national database’
Author: Jasper Hamill & Will Grice
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on age-verification proposals creating a database of sensitive data.
2016-10-23-Sputnik News-Who Watches the Watchers: UK Makes Plans to Monitor Porn-Viewing Habits
Summary: ORG quoted on age-verification proposals creating a database of sensitive data.
2016-10-26-Metro-The government wants to ‘make a list’ of everyone who uses porn in Britain
Author: Rob Waugh
Summary: ORG quoted on the evidence submitted to the DEBill Committee on age-verification proposals creating a database of sensitive data.

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