The Digital Economy Act (again)

The Digital Economy Act 2010 showed the long term goal of the entertainment industry, they want to criminalise file sharing. At the time, individual acts of copyright infringement were civil acts and the copyright owners had to pursue them through the courts, one at a time. This is expensive, slow, uncertain and most importantly expensive, compared with the cover price of a CD or DVD. The DE Act did that, it also sought to automate the justice system and in order to do that it weakened innocent until proven guilty, by prescribing defences and also placed a charge on going to court to argue not guilty. It really was a shit piece of legislation. However, the Law stated that the costs of surveillance and discovery had to be shared by the copyright owners and the internet service providers. The Courts struck down this part of the Law, (see here … for more)   … » Read more …

Corbyn on Brexit & Parliament

What Jeremy Corbyn wrote to members and said about Labour’s i.e the PLP’s position on Brexit,  … » Read more …

Brexit goes to Parliament

On returning from LP conference in September last year, I predicted that the left/right split had been added to by arguments over Brexit and Immigration. The last couple of days has shown this clearly. It starts from May’s declaration that the UK will be seeking to leave the single market and the customs union, the so-called “Hard Brexit”. This is because they wrongly think that this is the only way to implement more restrictive border controls and for reasons I can’t really understand hate the European Court of Justice. The UK Supreme Court has since ruled that only Parliament can agree to leave the EU and implement Article 50’s intention to quit. This article looks at the politics of the situation, especially as it applies to the Parliamentary Labour Party and argues that Labour’s policy of defining red-lines, and asking for a second mandate if the terms of exit are unacceptable are fair, democratic and desirable.  … » Read more …

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 …

A note on the coming GDPR

In a blog at my employer’s site I looked at how to become compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Regulations are the Law in all the member states, and members of the European Economic Area. The article looks at the issues of consent, the new data subject rights, privacy by design, the meaning of adequate protection and new public accountability via the duty to report breaches and to appoint a professional data protection officer.  … » 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 …