Why you should be bothered about the Snoopers Charter

Late last year, the UK Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This law builds on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Acts and the Data Retention Laws. This law allows the Government to store all our electronic communications traffic, read the content and meta data and co-opt the product and service vendors to help them. I describe this in more detail below.

The Law was written in the aftermath of Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) ruling in the Schrems vs. Facebook case that the EU’s Data Retention Directive and hence the member state implementations were in contradiction to the EU’s human rights law, the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Parliament had considered aspects of these proposals twice before under the two previous administrations and rejected them.

This article looks at the new Law, criticises it on Human Rights grounds in that it jeopardises the right to privacy, the right to organise, the right to a fair trial and rights to free speech and on IT Security grounds in that the new regulation of encryption products jeopardises access to electronic trust and privacy. It also examines the likely impact of the recent CJEU ruling on the legality of its predecessor law, and in passing, likely conflicts with last year’s passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union.   … » Read more …

Oi!, You! No snooping on my emails and chat!

Earlier this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered its judgement on the legality of the UK & Swedish data retention and surveillance laws. They confirmed their ruling from 2015 that general monitoring is illegal, that retention must be specific and is only allowed to combat serious crimes, that access to surveillance records must be authorised by independent authorities and that EU data subjects must be have access to legal remediation if their rights to privacy are breached. The Guardian report on it here, the Independent here ,the Register here and even  the Daily Mash comments here. The UK’s Investigatory Powers Act also gives the government the right to mandate backdoors in UK operated communications products; these powers may also fall foul of the prohibition on general monitoring and the need for independent review. While the ruling is specific to the UK’s DRIPA law, which has now been replaced by the Investigatory Powers Act, it poses a clear challenge to the legality of the new Law.  … » Read more …

Renewing Party Democracy

The LP NEC is having an away day to discuss reforming its rules and internal democracy, mainly in the light of the massive increase in membership to more than half a million members.  Here’s my manifesto for a member led party, I hope to supplement it with some ideas on the use of IT to aid in policy development and expressing the membership voice, but in terms of rules reform  … » Read more …

Labour & Article 50

In my report back from Labour Party Conference, I predicted that the fault lines caused by the Brexit Referendum would become a potential fatal debate for the Labour Party. Today the Independent reported on a speech by John McDonnell, in which he argued that Labour would not oppose an Article 50 bill and would use moral pressure to ensure that the Brexit terms negotiated were acceptable to Labour. Jolyen Maugham argues in the New Statesman that promising not to oppose Article 50, or not to amend it disarms the PLP, it will have no leverage on the Tories who are still putting the interests of their party before that of the country.  … » Read more …

Vote for me

I am standing for election as Secretary of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party; I’d like to thank the five branches and two union branches that nominated me.

1 have been fighting for a fairer society, in the Labour Party since 1974, for 42 years, sometime with some influence and sometimes with very little.  … » Read more …

Dangerous Times

Anthony Barnet writes at Open Democracy, an article called, “The Media Monarchy”, in which he looks at the Law, the Media, contempt and the bullying of the Supreme Court. He finishes by pointing out that our Constitution is the result of centuries of fighting against originally despotic monarchs amd that the new unaccountable, unchallengeable power potentially oppressing citizens is the media and while he doesn’t make much of it, the UK, has the weakest foreign ownership controls on the media.  … » Read more …

Article 50 & Parliament

The BBC reports that the High Court states that the Government needs Parliament’s permission to trigger the EU’s Article 50 Brexit process. The article is silent on whether Parliament has to express its will as a Law or joint house resolution; I’ll leave the last word to others more qualified, but I don’t think there is any other way to undo previous Parliamentary dispositions other than to pass a new law, which involves four readings and a committee stage in the Commons and the same in the Lords and potentially whatever we call the Conference process to resolve disagreements between the Houses.  … » Read more …

Uber & Capital Abundance

Tim Roache the General Secretary of the GMB writes about the GMB success in the courts in having Uber’s business model criminalised. The courts state that Uber’s drivers must be treated as employees and not as self-employed contractors.

The GMB and the UK are not the first jurisdiction to go to court.  I looked at this last year, and made a storify,   … » Read more …

Some thoughts on municipal housing

Just back from a seminar on Housing in London, hosted by the Lewisham Council, a couple of presentations and then some breakout sessions. I had some great company on my table; we considered how to make rented housing affordable and how to increase rental quality. I’d like to thank my table-mates.  … » Read more …

Labour’s Conference Lost

I was privileged to attend Labour’s Annual Conference in Liverpool as a voting delegate. The Conference was the book-end of a summer in which the Labour Party re-opened the debates about programme and strategy which many had thought finished last year. This article reports my experience and views; it is quite long, about 2750 words and is broken up into sections, Unity and the membership, some comments on the politics of Conference, a short section on the future, also covering the Tuesday atmosphere and Wednesday’s Leader’s speech. This is followed by a commentary on the Rules debate and the surrounding shenanigans; the main part of this article/report is concluded with comments on the state of the debate on Immigration and Brexit.   … » Read more …

Last Chance

Given Dianne Abbott’s appointment as Shadow Home Secretary I feel there is an opportunity to change and challenge Labour’s position of abstention on the Regulatory Powers Bill. There is some urgency to this as today is the last day in which Peers can place amendments to the 3rd Reading.

The arguments in favour of passing the RPB is that the current surveillance laws are inappropriate for today’s technology and the current regulatory regime is insufficiently powerful. The arguments against are that the legalisation of past illegal practice and the authorisation of new powers are a massive breach of the rights to justice and privacy, there is zero proportionality and the proposals are of unknown effectiveness.  … » Read more …

hashtag lab16

redflag

I have been at Labour Party Conference for the last week, as a Delegate; it’ll take me some time to get my thoughts and words together.   … » Read more …

Digital inclusions & democracy

25% of the UK population don’t have broadband, this is higher amongst the poor and the old; it generally costs more than the BBC Licence. Also not all internet users are Facebook users. Facebook (& other social media providers) cannot act as a guarantor of identity in government and political business, partly because they’re proprietary, closed source systems and thus users, citizens and judges do not know what the code does. Digital inclusion is still one of the key political issues to be addressed in the internet age, governments and political parties need to step very carefully when they use social media platforms as a means of understanding people’s views; this is before we consider the anti-democratic nature of survey’s and referenda, you can only answer the questions asked, usually in a binary or scalar fashion. It’s not good enough …..oh yeah & open source.  … » Read more …