ORG policy update/2018-w14

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 02/04/2018.

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ORG’s work

  • This week, ORG sent out an action to interested members about the proposed EU Copyright Filter, asking for signatures to forward to MEPs.
  • A number of ORG local groups are also running events around Free Speech and Extremism. The full list of events can be found on our events page.

Official meetings

  • Jim Killock met with Oath to discuss intermediary liability.
  • Jim Killock appeared on Al Jazeera's English language television channel to discuss Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica investigation.

UK Parliament

The Easter recess in the House of Commons began on 29 March 2018, and will last until 16 April 2018. During this period, the House of Commons does not conduct ordinary business, so not many developments are expected over the coming two weeks.

Data Protection Bill progress continues

ORG continue to track the progress of the Data Protection Bill through Parliament. After the Easter recess concludes, the Bill as amended by the Committee will be discussed by the Commons at the Report stage.

Other national developments

House of Lords Consultation on internet regulation opens

Last week, the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications launched a Consultation seeking views on how to improve regulation on the internet.

According to the Consultation page:

The Committee will explore how the regulation of the internet should be improved, and whether specific regulation is required or whether the existing law is adequate. The inquiry also investigates whether the online platforms have sufficient accountability and transparency, and whether they use fair and effective processes to moderate content.

Over the course of the inquiry the Committee will hear evidence on what information online platforms should provide to consumers about the use of their personal data and what responsibility online platforms should have for the content that they host.

The Committee is seeking to answer the following questions:

  • Is there a need to introduce specific regulation for the internet?
  • What should be the legal liability of online platforms for the content that they host?
  • How effective, fair and transparent are online platforms in moderating content that they host?
  • What role should users play in establishing and maintaining online community standards for content and behaviour?
  • What effect will the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on the Government’s regulation of the internet?

The Consultation can be found here, and the deadline for responses is 11 May 2018.

Government confirms no intent to regulate driverless vehicles yet

In response to the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill currently passing through Parliament, junior transport minister Baroness Sugg authored a letter to the House of Lords, criticising some of the elements of the Bill before Committee stage in the House of Lords begins.

In the letter, Baroness Sugg highlighted that it was unnecessary for the Bill to grant new powers to create standards that new driverless vehicles would have to meet, as "necessary powers already exist to create new Motor Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations for automated vehicles through the Road Traffic Act 1988".

Baroness Sugg also discussed the "significant considerations" of data protection and privacy with relation to the large amounts of data generated by vehicles of this type. She noted that "it is likely that these data recorders will be regulated on an international basis", and that it would be "against UK interests to act unilaterally before decisions have been taken".

International developments

US Government asks Supreme Court to drop Microsoft v USA email privacy challenge

The US Government this week asked the Supreme Court to drop a long-running challenge against Microsoft which attempted to force them to disclose the contents of a person's email inbox stored on servers located in Ireland. Last Friday, the US Department of Justice submitted a 16-page court filing, requesting dismissal of the case and describing it as "moot".

The Supreme Court had heard arguments in the case as recently as February 2018, but with the recent passage of the highly controversial Clarifying Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, American and foreign law enforcement powers were expanded to allow them to access to data stored internationally or in other territories.

ORG had previously signed a joint Amicus briefing in the case with Digital Rights Ireland, and were hoping for a Supreme Court ruling supporting Microsoft's refusal to disclose the contents of the customer's inbox.

Questions in the UK Parliament

Question about Police accessing data on mobile phones

Lord Scriven made reference to Privacy International's recent campaign on phone data extraction, by asking:

  • "what national rules are in place concerning police officers accessing individuals' personal mobile phone data";
  • "what assessment [the Government] have made of whether police officers should be prevented from accessing individuals' personal mobile phone data without a search warrant"; and
  • "whether the police can retain data downloaded from the mobile phones of those who have been arrested but not charged; and if so, why."

Baroness Williams of Trafford answered, stating:

Current legislation, principally provisions in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, allow data to be accessed from a mobile device when there are reasonable grounds to believe it contains evidence of an offence, but only then in adherence with data protection and human rights obligations.

Data obtained and downloaded from a mobile device belonging to a person arrested, but not charged, may be retained for forensic examination or as evidential material in an ongoing criminal investigation. The data may only be retained for as long as is necessary.

There are no plans to change this legislation.

The police are operationally independent of the Home Office and the use of their powers to investigate crime, including operational guidance, is a matter for them.

Question on intellectual property rights post-Brexit

Marsha de Cordova asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy whether the Government would "ensure that the same level of rights under the EU unregistered designs regime is maintained in the UK after the UK leaves the EU."

Sam Gyimah responded that "as stated in the UK Technical Note on 'Other Separation Issues' – where the UK does not have existing domestic legislation to protect certain types of rights, it will establish new schemes. This will preserve the full scope of the unregistered Community design right in the UK".

ORG media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2018-04-06-BBC News-iPhone update adds privacy 'transparency'
Author: BBC News
Summary: Jim Killock quoted in a story about Apple adding improved privacy controls to their iOS operating system for mobile phones.
Topics: Privacy

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