ORG policy update/2016-w44

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 31/10/2016.

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

ORG's work

  • ORG has been busy this week doing some research into the car insurance company Admiral and their use of Facebook users' data.
  • We were doing some more work on the DEBill and IPBill. More on that will be coming soon.
  • Our local organiser for ORG Birmingham wrote a piece on to use open source software. Read it here.
  • ORG London is organising a meeting on 7 November on [Digital Dystopias: Orwell’s 1984 and the Internet Age. We will be discussing surveillance and totalitarianism in literature.
  • 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 secure their online communications. Join ORG North East on 12 November to learn why we need to use these tools. All are welcome.
  • ORG Aberdeen is organising a Cryptonoise meeting on 23 November. Learn how you can help to protect your rights in a digital world. You do not need to be a tech wizard to attend. 
  • Our Local Groups around the country meet with like-minded people to take action on current campaigns and have a huge role in our work, find your group here!

Official meetings

Parliament

IPBill

The IPBill finished its passage in the House of Lords on Monday and progressed into the “ping pong” stage on Tuesday.

During the Third Reading Lords surprisingly discussed an amendment proposed by Baroness Hollins for civil liability for unlawful interception. This amendment aims to respond to the Leveson Inquiry and regulate the press by awarding victims of unlawful interception a compensation. Baroness Hollins claimed that shortly before the Third Reading the government indicated they will oppose her amendment.

The amendment was pressed to a vote and the House of Lords defeated the government's position. The updated version of the IPBill going to the House of Commons the next day included the amendment. Find the briefing on Lords amendments to the House of Commons here.

The ping pong session in the House of Commons had the amendment voted on and the Government's majority pushed for it to not be part of the Bill.

Labour and SNP made it clear they will not be able to support the Bill if the Hollins' amendments does not stand part of the Bill. Since the discussion around the Leveson Inquiry amendment got quite heated, MPs did not have much time to spend discussing other changes made in the House of Lords.

The House of Commons explained that they rejected the amendment
“Because it would not be appropriate to make such provision in relation to claims under clause 8 while consideration is being given to commencing section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013”
, essentially claiming that the amendment is placed in a wrong legislation.

The IPBill then moved back to the House of Lords on 2 November where it got its backing from the Lords again.

The next round of the ping pong in the House of Commons will take place after recess on 15 November.

DEBill

The DEBill concluded the Public Bill Committee stage on Tuesday 1 November. The Report stage of the Bill has not been announced yet but is likely to take place after recess (after 14 November).

The last sitting discussed mobile phone contracts and mobile phone related debt and bill caps. The Committee also briefly discussed an amendment submitted by Thangam Debbonaire that would create an offence to make available pornographic material on a commercial basis where it could be known that persons in the material were forced into taking part.

Matthew Hancock MP, the Minister for Digital Economy, assured Debbonaire that this issue is being dealt with in other legislations that cover it fully. Consequently the amendment was withdrawn.

In the mean time, another amendment regarding age verification was submitted by a cross bench group of MPs (not necessarily supported by the government) led by Claire Perry MP.

The amendment seeks to require the blocking of access to pornographic material by Internet service providers. The age-verification regulator (BBFC) will be able to issue notices to ISPs to block access to non-complying porn publishers which will inevitably lead to a form of censorship. Jim Killock explains in detail why these measures are neither effective nor proportionate.

There is a danger that Labour and Conservative MPs may come together to defeat the government and introduce a power to block websites since Labour had previously tabled a similar amendment.

However this week the Labour Shadow Minister Sarah Champion made a statement saying that children should be taught about pornography before they start accessing it. This would be a much more sensible approach to tackling children's online safety.

You can find out about the issues in the DEBill from our videos:

Lords' motion to regret on pupils' data

Lord Storey (Lib Dem) moved a motion to regret in the House of Lords on collecting information about pupils' nationality and country of birth under the Education (Pupil Information) Regulations. Even though the motion was agreed to by the Lords the motions to regret in no way require the government to take action.

Labour and Lib Dem Lords jointly expressed their disbelief at such practices at schools. They pointed out that the UK has a long tradition of separating schools from the state and collecting pupils' information breaches this principle. Lord Storey further explained that policies such as these contribute to
“a massive increase in anti-immigration rhetoric, as witnessed by big increases in hate crime.”
Lord Nash tried to make the case for the government requiring pupils' nationality data. The government also issued a fact sheet on the topic. The main reason for the government to collect the data is to help them
“to understand the impact of migration on schools - for example, what extra support we may need to provide to schools with high numbers of children who don’t speak English as a first language. It will also help us to plan how we ensure there are enough good school places for every child.”

However it is by no means clear that fully identifiable information about each indvidual pupil is needed in order to create the kinds of statistical information the government wants.

Question on cybercrime

Chi Onwurah MP asked the Solicitor General Robert Buckland MP what he is doing to ensure that the Crown Prosecution Service can respond to Internet of things attacks, like the ones that occurred last week involving Spotify and Twitter.

Robert Buckland MP responded that the Government have in place many measures to deal with prevention. Buckland added that the cybercrime strategy will address a lot of the concerns Onwurah expressed.

Question on the National Cyber Security Centre

Craig Williams asked the Minister for Cabinet Office, what progress has been made on establishing the National Cyber Security Centre.

Ben Gummer MP responded that the Centre was formally launches on 3 October and is a crucial part of the five-year National Cyber Security Strategy launched earlier this week.

Other national developments

Cyber-security strategy

The UK Government finally published the National Cyber Security Strategy for the next five years (2016-2021). The strategy aims to protect the UK economy and the privacy of British citizens and to encourage industry to improve prevention of damaging cyber-attacks.

The strategy has three key areas. Firstly, the strategy sets out how government will strengthen its own defences by working in partnership with industry to use automated defence techniques to reduce the impact of cyber-attacks by hackers.

A significant amount of the 1.9 billion budget will go towards fighting those who threaten the UK in cyberspace. This is to be done by strengthening the law enforcement capabilities and increasing the number of specialist cyber-crime investigators and technical specialists working within the National Cyber Crime Unit.

Lastly, the strategy will focus on development of the nation's capabilities and investment in the next generation of students and experts. Philip Hammond MP announced a new cyber security institute – a collective of UK universities looking into improving the security of smart phones, tablets and laptops.

The new technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre outlines his opinion on the current state of cyber crime.

Facebook stopped Admiral's insurance app

An insurance company Admiral was forced to stop using Facebook to run their app for setting insurance prices before its launch. The use of the Facebook data was in breach of Facebook's Platform Policy.

According to Admiral's press release the app would use
“social data personality assessments, matched to real claims data, to better understand first time drivers and more accurately predict risk.”

However the Facebook's Platform Policy clearly states that their data should not be used to determine eligibility for various applications or to make decisions on how much interest to charge on a loan.

Using social media for financial or insurance contractual queries creates significant risks. Jim Killock explained that
“We might be penalised for our posts or denied benefits and discounts because we don’t share enough or have interests that mark us out as different and somehow unreliable. Whether intentional or not, algorithms could perpetuate social biases that are based on race, gender, religion or sexuality.

Since the story broke Facebook stopped the data flow to Admiral and the car insurance app will only use Facebook for login and verification purposes. Even though the app launch took place, the app is effectively broken.

Europe

Whatsapp asked to stop data sharing by EU regulators

Article 29 Data Protection Working Party warned WhatsApp over its sharing of information with Facebook. The messaging app was asked to pause the transfer of personal data.

The European Union data protection authorities have serious concerns over WhatsApp's recent privacy policy change that would facilitate sharing users' phone numbers with its parent company Facebook.

Article 29 requested WhatsApp to communicate all relevant information to the Working Party as soon as possible. Furthermore, they were urged to pause sharing of users' data until appropriate legal protections could be assured.

End of copyright ban in Germany

YouTube and German music rights group GEMA have agreed on a licensing agreement that will essentially stop video blocking in Germany.

Both sides of the disputes have been criticised. YouTube has been under fire for profiting from the work of artists without proper compensations. On the other hand, GEMA has been facing criticism for their rigid policies after musicians complained that they lost the ability to share their content freely in Germany.

YouTube agreed to pay a fee for making the music videos of GEMA members available in Germany after the two sides were fighting for 7 years. The blocking signs on numerous videos will disappear. The agreement is considered a win for musicians and the public.

International developments

Facebook asked to clarify their content removal policies

Facebook has been asked to their policies on content removal by more than 70 rights groups. The letter criticised the recent cases of censorship where Facebook has deleted content involving police violence, the picture of a Vietnamese girl suffering napalm burns and suspended accounts of two Palestinian journalists.

The groups requested that Facebook make their policies clear and accessible to the public. Additionally, the civil rights groups would like to see a public appeals platform for users to protest removed content.

Facebook response said
"We welcome feedback from our community as we begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest,"

They also announced last month the company will begin to weigh news value more heavily when deciding on blocking content.

ORG media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2016-10-27-Boing Boing-UK MPs realise that age filtering won't work so now they just want to block all porn in the UK
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: ORG quoted on the MPs plans failing to stop children from accessing pornography and increasing censorship.
2016-10-27-Daily Dot-The British government could soon have a list of everyone who watches porn
Author: David Gilmour
Summary: ORG quoted on the MPs plans failing to stop children from accessing pornography and increasing censorship.
2016-10-28- Ars Technica-The UK government’s war on porn will expose children to more and worse
Author: Glyn Moody
Summary: ORG quoted on the MPs plans failing to stop children from accessing pornography and increasing censorship.
2016-10-29-Neowin-MPs considering blocking adult sites which don't add age verification
Author: Paul Hill
Summary: ORG quoted on the MPs plans failing to stop children from accessing pornography and increasing censorship.
2016-10-31-New Statesman-Everything you need to know about the “terrifying” Investigatory Powers Bill
Author: Amelia Tait
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on Labour failing to hold the government to account regarding the IPBill.
2016-10-31-The Canary-As ‘Snoopers Charter’ becomes law, one ISP is showing how state surveillance can be bypassed
Author: Tom Coburg
Summary: ORG mentioned in connection with Brass Horn Communications and the use of their service.
2016-11-01-Inverse-Welcome to England, Here's Your Porn ID
Author: Dylan Love
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on teenagers being able to bypass age verification for porn websites.
2016-11-02-Insurance Age-InsurTech Futures: Human rights group attacks Admiral’s Facebook insurance plan
Author: Ida Axling
Summary: ORG quoted on Admiral's car insurance app breaching Facebook's Platform Policy.
2016-11-02-IT Pro-Facebook bars Admiral from analysing users' posts to price car insurance
Author: Joe Curtis
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-BBC-Facebook blocks Admiral's car insurance discount plan
Author: Kevin Peachey
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Tech Crunch-Facebook slaps down Admiral’s plan to use social media posts to price car insurance premiums
Author: Natasha Lomas
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02- Fox News-Facebook blocks car insurer from profiling users
Author: James Rogers
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Tech Crunch-UK heading towards era of parliament-approved mass surveillance
Author: Natasha Lomas
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on there being only minor improvements to the IPBill throughout the passage of the Bill.
2016-11-02-SC Magazine-Investigatory Powers Bill one step closer to becoming law
Author: Roi Perez
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the UK being closer to having the most extreme surveillance laws ever as the IPBill progresses.
2016-11-02-Express-Facebook just banned one of the 'CREEPIEST' uses of its website
Author: Aaron Brown
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Daily Mail-Facebook blocks car insurer Admiral's 'intrusive' plan to check your social media posts before it sets premiums
Author: Joseph Curtis
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Engadget-Facebook blocks UK insurer Admiral from profiling users for discounts
Author: Matt Brian
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-The Week-Facebook blocks Admiral's profile-trawling plan
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Campaign Live-Facebook bars Admiral's 'firstcarquote' from using profile information
Author: Shona Ghosh
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-The Verge-Facebook blocks insurer exploiting user data to find 'conscientious' drivers
Author: James Vincent
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Inquisitr-Facebook Blocks Admiral Insurance From Profiling Users
Author: Jennifer Deutschmann
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-The Inquirer-Facebook unlikes Admiral setting insurance premiums based on users' posts
Author: Chris Merriman
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Digital Look-Facebook blocks Admiral's latest car insurance product
Author: Michele Maatouk
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Mashable-Facebook stops insurer from setting rates based on profiles
Author: Gianluca Mezzofiore
Summary: ORG cited as the source for the Admiral car insurance app to use Facebook profile data.
2016-11-02-The Guardian-Facebook forces Admiral to pull plan to price car insurance based on posts
Author: Graham Ruddick
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02—PC Mag-UK Insurer Wants to Analyze Facebook to Determine Rates
Author: Tom Brant
Summary: ORG quoted on the new Admiral app encouraging self-censorship on social media.
2016-11-02-Finextra-Admiral forced to pull plans to use Facebook posts to adjust car insurance premiums
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Insurance Business Mag-Facebook blocks Admiral’s newly announced app plans
Author: Lucy Hook
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on on the new Admiral app encouraging self-censorship on social media.
2016-11-02-Gizmodo-Facebook Blocks Admiral's Fuzzy Move to Base Car Insurance Prices on Social Media Posts
Author: Aatif Sulleyman
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-The Next Web-This car insurer wants your Facebook data to determine if you’re a risky driver
Author: Matthew Hughes
Summary: ORG cited as a source for the Admiral app car insurance story.
2016-11-02-Cnet-Insurer plans to read your Facebook for cheaper car insurance
Author: Richard Trenholm
Summary: ORG quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Smart Highways-Admiral’s Facebook insurance quote idea hits problems on first day
Summary: ORG quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Tech Week Europe-Facebook Blocks Insurance Firm Admiral From Using Profile Data
Author: Tom Jowitt
Summary: ORG quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-Digital Journal-Facebook bans car insurer from using data to calculate premiums
Author: James Walker
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-ZD Net-How your Facebook profile can lower your car insurance
Author: Charlie Osborne
Summary: ORG quoted on Admiral's car insurance app breaching Facebook's Platform Policy.
2016-11-02-Autocar-Admiral shelves Facebook-snooping insurance product
Author: Jimi Beckwith
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the necessity of considering wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions based on information from social media.
2016-11-02-BBC Radio Scotland-Good Morning Scotland
Summary: Interview with Pam Cowburn on Admiral's use of Facebook data.
2016-11-04-NBC News-Trump Campaign Pays Millions to Overseas Big Data Firm
Author: Kate Brannelly
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the disturbing practice of politicians in the US using big data to get into power.

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