ORG policy update/2017-w22

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 29/05/2017.

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

Policy updates will take a break for a couple of weeks and will be back the week of 26/06/2017.

ORG’s work

  • ORG launched an action encouraging people to ask their candidates where they stand on issues related to digital rights. You can follow this link to find out who your local candidates are and what their position is.

Planned events:

  • Join ORG London on Tuesday 6th June for a group outing to a live, start-to-finish reading of Nineteen Eighty-Four in Senate House, University of London, organised by The Orwell Foundation and UCL Festival of Culture.
  • Join ORG Cambridge on Tuesday 4th July for their monthly meetup 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.

Official meetings

National developments

General Election 2017

The digital rights agenda has not been playing a prominent role in the campaigning in the upcoming General Election. ORG created a tool for people to ask their candidates where they stand on digital issues.

You can find the relevant parts of manifestos of the bigger parties here.

Most of the parties’ manifestos do not contain a comprehensive stance on digital rights issues. Most notably, the Conservative manifesto includes a chapter on Digital Charter and the Pirate Party made digital rights central to their manifesto.

Media and campaign groups criticised the Tory manifesto which pledges to regulate the Internet:

“will open discussions with the leading tech companies and other like-minded democracies about the global rules of the digital economy, to develop an international legal framework that we have for so long benefited from in other areas like banking and trade.

“We recognise the complexity of this task and that this will be the beginning of a process, but it is a task which we believe is necessary and which we intend to lead. By doing these things—a digital charter, a framework for data ethics, and a new international agreement—we will put our great country at the head of this new revolution; we will choose how technology forms our future; and we will demonstrate, even in the face of unprecedented change, the good that government can do.”

Jim Killock explained in a blog that this manifesto

”would deliver an internet where the state creates incentives to remove anything potentially objectionable and what level of security citizens should be able to enjoy from the platforms they use everyday.”

Further analysis of the manifesto regarding its pledges on the European Convention on Human Rights and data protection can be found here.


NGOs write a letter to the European Parliament to remove the “upload filter”

A group of international organisation (including ORG, EFF, Wikimedia, Creative Commons and others) penned a letter to the European Parliament and the rapporteur for the Copyright Reform Therese Comodini Cachia.

The Copyright Reform proposals are part of the Digital Single Market strategy. The letter calls for abandoning the plans outlined in the controversial Article 13 of the Copyright reform.

Article 13, also called the “upload filter”, requires online service providers to put systems in place to detect and police allegedly infringing copyright content uploaded to their platforms. It is aimed at platforms like YouTube that store and make content available to close the “value gap”. The proposals would supposedly prevent the platforms from avoiding to pay license fees.

The Article makes platforms responsible for preemptively checking that user uploaded content does not breach copyright. This approach will cause overblocking of online material since the guidelines on what constitutes copyright infringement are not sufficiently clear.

The signatories in the letter highlight that

”The provision on the so-called ‘value gap’ is designed to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they want to have any chance of staying in business. The Commission’s proposal misrepresents some European Court rulings and seeks to impose contradictory obligations on the Member States. This is simply bad regulation.”

The organisations recommend that Article 13 is removed from the Copyright reform. The problems with the “upload filter” were previously highlighted by the European Parliament rapporteur for Copyright reform Therese Comodini Cachia in her report published in March.

Comodini called for changes that would make rightsholders responsible for identifying any misuse of their works, rather than prescribing “content recognition technologies” to be applied by online platforms. Javier Ruiz explored implications of Comodini’s report in more detail in a blog.

This week, MEP Julia Reda warned that there is a new “compromise” text for Article 13 that could negatively impact online platforms. The new text tightens the text proposed by the Commission and goes beyond sites like YouTube that actually host content, to encompass those that merely carry links.

The European Parliament will vote on the proposals on 8 June.

International developments

No US laptop travel ban for EU

The US decided not to ban laptops in the cabins of flights to the United States from Europe. The ban was supposed to respond to intelligence that terrorists are able to place bombs inside laptops and tablets.

This decision comes after the Trump administration took into account European concerns about the safety implications of storing personal electronic devices (PEDs) with lithium batteries in aircraft cargo holds.

After the official news, the US administration stated that the ban is still on the table but the European Commission official confirmed that ”both sides have agreed to intensify technical talks and try to find a common solution” and no ban would be implemented.

The potential ban could have implications for individuals’ digital rights and could lead to electronic property theft, loss of data or covert searches of and interference with unattended devices.

ORG media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2017-05-26-Expert Reviews-Will a VPN hide me from the Snoopers’ Charter?
Summary: ORG mentioned describing the Investigatory Powers Act a threat to the British public’s right to privacy.
2017-05-30-Torrent Freak-Huge Coalition Protests EU Mandatory Piracy Filter Proposals
Author: Andy
Summary: ORG mentioned as one of the signatories of a letter to the European Parliament regarding the Copyright reform.
2017-06-01-Daily Mail-Is Kodi crumbling? Three more add-ons are shut down on the streaming software after legal threats from anti-piracy groups
Author: Phoebe Weston
Summary: ORG mentioned in relation to the correspondence with the Intellectual Property Office and online copyright infringement offence.

ORG Contact Details

Staff page