ORG policy update/2018-w08

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 19/02/2018.

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ORG’s work

  • ORG launched a new infographic as part of their campaign against current trials of electronic voting in Scotland.
  • ORG are fundraising to recruit more permanent members of our legal team. Join ORG today to help out!
  • ORG is running a petition against the Government’s misguided proposals threatening fines for internet companies who do not rapidly censor extremist material shared on their platforms. Sign the petition here!
  • ORG have launched an open call for ideas to develop a tool for consumers to enjoy their stronger rights under GDPR. This is a joint project with Projects by IF, funded through a grant from the Information Commissioner Office.

Planned local group events:

  • Join ORG Cambridge on 6 March for their regular monthly meeting.
  • Join ORG Legal Intern Alex Haydock at ORG North East on 10 March to learn about digital rights and how to take control of your online life.
  • Join ORG Birmingham on 26 March to hear about what the Government's Digital Charter will mean for free speech online.

Official meetings

  • Mike Morel and Alex Haydock gave a presentation to ORG London about the Digital Charter, and the concerns it poses for free speech online.
  • Myles Jackman gave a presentation to ORG Norwich about ORG's current legal activities, and the Digital Economy Act.
  • ORG hosted a roundtable on Scotland's electronic voting proposals on Tuesday 20 February, briefing other parts of Scottish civil society and hearing from the Scottish Government their intentions with the trial, which remain dependent on the outcome of the current consultation.

UK Parliament

Data Protection Bill

ORG are still tracking the progress of the Data Protection Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Commons at the end of January, and is awaiting a second Commons reading before Committee Stage can begin. While no date has yet been announced for the Second Reading, ORG are expecting this to be held around the time of Monday 5 March.

The Bill still contains the controversial "immigration exemption", which ORG have campaigned against during earlier stages. For more information, see previous policy updates.

ORG are planning future outreach campaigns targeting MPs and MEPs, intended to highlight our concerns with some of the provisions of the Bill.

Other national developments

ORG and medConfidential mentioned in Scottish Government's report on NHS Scotland's digital strategy

ORG have recently been notified of the publication of a report by the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee which mentions the joint submission to the Committee by ORG and medConfidential.

The report contains the following promising recommendation at paragraph 66:

"We believe it is imperative a person-centred approach should empower patients to control their own information, including how this is used. We would welcome information on what action the Scottish Government is taking to allow people control of their own information."

The full report can be downloaded here, and ORG's original joint response with medConfidential's can be found here.

Ministry of Defence publishes note on the use of 'Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities'

On 21 February, the Ministry of Defence published a joint doctrine note intended to provide an explanation of cyber and electromagnetic activities (CEMA) may be used for various Government tasks.

According to the Government, the note "describes the framework that UK defence will use to synchronise and co-ordinate cyber and electromagnetic activities (CEMA) at the operational level as well as the enabling support activities."

The report also "includes contributions from UK defence and partners across government and emphasises the development of synchronisation and the co-ordination of CEMA in support of the operational commander."

The full 64-page report can be downloaded here.

Public Health England launches consultation on NHS data sharing

This week, Public Health England launched a consultation seeking "evidence on the public health impact of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on data sharing between NHS Digital, the Home Office and the Department of Health, particularly on the healthcare-seeking behaviour and health outcomes of the migrant population."

The memorandum, which the consultation seeks to analyse the impact of, came into force in January 2017 and describes the processes under which information requests submitted by the Home Office are made to and processed by NHS Digital.

The consultation document can be viewed here.

DCMS confirms designation of BBFC as age verification regulator

On the 22nd February, the DCMS finally made public acknowledgement of the BBFC's appointment to the post of age verification regulator. A Notice of Designation of Age-Verification Regulator was posted to the Digital Economy Act hub on the GOV.UK site.

Questions in the UK Parliament

Question about export of surveillance technology

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP asked the Secretary of State for International Trade, what the evidential basis was for the approval of the licensing of 5A001 surveillance equipment to the Philippines on 25 July 2016.

Graham Stuart responded that the Government would not issue an export license "if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression", and that this assessment "takes into account the specific end user and intended end use of the goods."

He confirmed that, in this particular case, "the licence was issued for the temporary export of the equipment for demonstration purposes and a condition of the licence was that the goods would remain under the control of the exporter."

Question about North Korean involvement in WannaCry cyber attack

Emily Thornberry MP asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department "what recent discussions she has had with officials from Europol on the progress of that organisation's investigations into possible North Korean involvement in the WannaCry cyber attack in May 2017; and what steps she is taking to support those investigations."

Ben Wallace confirmed that the investigation into the attack is still ongoing, but that "the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) assesses it is highly likely that North Korean actors known as the Lazarus Group were behind the attack."

Question about anti-radicalisation programmes

Stephen Timms MP asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support her Department is giving to the Web Guardians programme.

Ben Wallace answered that the "Home Office supports civil society organisations to deliver activity locally as part of the Prevent strategy", and that "Web Guardians, run by the JAN Trust, is one of the programmes that have been supported in this way."

ORG media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2018-02-17-Gay Star News-Sky UK block gay-teen support website deemed 'pornographic' by its algorithms
Author: Joe Gamp
Summary: ORG's Blocked! tool featured heavily in an article about Sky blocking access to LGBT support sites. Myles Jackman also quoted.
Topics: Internet censorship
2018-02-21-DIGIT-Third of UK Consumers Want to be Digitally Erased
Author: Dominique Adams
Summary: Matthew Rice quoted in a story about consumer enthusiasm for the GDPR's right to data erasure.
Topics: Data protectionPrivacy

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