ORG policy update/2018-w11

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 12/03/2018.

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

ORG’s work

  • 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.

Official meetings

  • Jim Killock met with Dominic Grieve to discuss the immigration exemption in the Data Protection Bill.
  • Jim Killock, Myles Jackman and Alex Haydock met with the BBFC to discuss their role as age verification regulator.

UK Parliament

Data Protection Bill

The Committee Stage of the Data Protection Bill started this week on Tuesday 13 March, continuing on Thursday 15 March. ORG have consistently campaigned against the immigration exemption contained in the Bill.

The Committee debated immigration exemption on 13 March. Shadow Digital Minister Liam Byrne presented strong arguments why the exemption should be removed from the Bill with support from other Labour and SNP MPs. However, the Government maintained their position that the exemption is necessary to secure effective immigration control. The Labour amendment to remove the exemption from the Bill was voted down by the Government 10-9.

To challenge the immigration exemption that still forms part of the Bill, ORG, along with the3million, are launching legal action against the Government supported by lawyers from Leigh Day.

Leigh Day have written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd on behalf of ORG and the3million, requesting that the immigration exemption be removed from the Bill, and noting that they intend to launch a legal challenge to the clause if it is passed into law.

For more information, please see this ORG press release.

On 15 March, the Committee discussed implementation of Article 80(2) which would allow specialised not-for-profit organisations to represent unnamed data subjects in complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office related to breach of their data protection rights. The Bill as it stands only implements Article 80(1) which allows data subjetcs to nominate an organisation to represent them in the complaint. The Government has introduced an amendment which would require a review of the implementation of Article 80(1) to be conducted first before Article 80(2) could be implemented. Labour proposed a counter-amendment which would implement the article without an intial review. Due to the Conservative majority in the Public Bill Committee, the Government managed to pass their amendment.

The Committee also discussed issues around: meaning of “public authority” and “public body”, lawfulness of processing: public interest, special categories of personal data and criminal convictions data, and automated decision-making authorised by law: safeguards.

The next Public Bill Committee sittings will take place on 20, 22 and 27 March.

Other national developments

Enforcement of Age Verification Delayed

On Sunday 10 March, the DCMS published a press release on the UK's digital strategy. Most of the press release was about the rollout and adoption of 5G technology, but further down in the document, the DCMS confirmed that they would be extending the deadline for the adoption of AV from April 2018 to the end of the year:

Our priority is to make the internet safer for children and we believe this is best achieved by taking time to get the implementation of the policy right. We will therefore allow time for the BBFC as regulator to undertake a public consultation on its draft guidance which will be launched later this month.

For the public and the industry to prepare for and comply with age verification, the Government will also ensure a period of up to three months after the BBFC guidance has been cleared by Parliament before the law comes into force. It is anticipated age verification will be enforceable by the end of the year.

This is not unexpected for ORG, as the timescales originally proposed by the DCMS were extremely tight and the implementation of AV would need to be very rushed in order to meet the original April deadline.

'Nazi Dog' Threatening Communications Trial Resumes

YouTube performer Mark Meechan (who goes by the alias 'Count Dankula') is facing charges in Scotland for posting a video showing a dog he trained to perform a 'nazi salute' on command.

Meechan is being charged with an offence under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which carries a potential penalty of imprisonment for up to 5 years, a fine, or both.

An offence under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 is also available as an alternative charge. This is the offence which was famously used in the 'Twitter Joke Trial' in 2012, and is the only one that would be available if Meechan was based in England and Wales rather than Scotland. The Section 127 offence carries a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.

Meechan's trial is set to resume on Tuesday 20 March in Airdrie Sheriff Court.

Questions in the UK Parliament

Question about cybersecurity and the Internet of Things

Chi Onwurah asked the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which (a) organisations and (b) Departments were consulted in the development of the report Secure by Design: Improving the cybersecurity of consumer Internet of Things.

Margot James responded that the DCMS, "in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Centre, worked in close collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, industry partners, consumer organisations, academics and technical experts. The report’s publication, and draft Code of Practice, is intended to stimulate further dialogue with industry, academia and civil society over the coming months, with comments sought by 25 April 2018. This will ensure Government and industry activity support the review and that it collectively balances the need to create effective incentives for manufacturers, the supply chain and retailers, while continuing to encourage innovation in new technologies."

ORG media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2018-03-15-The Guardian-Twitter a 'particular challenge' for plans for online pornography age checks
Author: Damien Gayle
Summary: Jim Killock quoted on the GDPR providing only general rules unsuited to the particularly sensitive information involved in the age verification of pornographic websites.
Topics: Online age verification, Privacy
2018-03-13-The Sun-UK porn laws could lead to blackmail, suicide – and young Brits turning to extremism
Author: Sean Keach
Summary: Myles Jackman quoted extensively in a story about age verification technology and the potential downsides.
Topics: Online age verification, Privacy
2018-03-12-BBC News-Online porn age checks delayed in UK
Author: Zoe Kleinman
Summary: Myles Jackman quoted in a story about the recent DCMS press release confirming the age verification deadline has been pushed back.
Topics: Online age verification, Privacy
2018-03-12-The Independent-Porn age-verification laws delayed by UK Government amid widespread confusion about how they will actually work
Author: Andrew Griffin
Summary: Myles Jackman quoted in a story about the recent DCMS press release confirming the age verification deadline has been pushed back.
Topics: Online age verification, Privacy
2018-03-12-Wired UK-The UK's controversial online porn block has been delayed
Author: Matt Burgess
Summary: Alex Haydock quoted in a story about the recent DCMS press release confirming the age verification deadline has been pushed back.
Topics: Online age verification, Privacy
2018-03-12-The Guardian-Porn site age checks are delayed to make sure officials 'get it right'
Author: Damien Gayle
Summary: Myles Jackman quoted in a story about the recent DCMS press release confirming the age verification deadline has been pushed back.
Topics: Online age verification, Privacy

ORG Contact Details

Staff page