Tag Archives: digital liberty

Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

I have had a look  at the manifestos and see what they have to say on the internet and Digital Liberty. I have been very influenced by the EDRi voting exchange and summarise the issues of Digital Liberty as e-citizenship, equality before the law, privacy and copyright reform, to which for this election we must add internet governance and industrial & innovation policy. I have created a table summarising the positions of the Tories, Labour, LibDems and Greens. Possibly I should have analysed the SNP manifesto since much of this is Westmister reserved powers. I was hoping to write something easy and quick to read. I don’t think I have succeeded. My super summary is in the figure immediately below, and here is the table I built to help me write this article. (I lost the excel file, so this will have to do!)  My main source was the ORG pages but I have been reading the Labour Manifesto also. I feel that the opposition parties have suffered from the surprise; they probably expected more time to develop their promises. All three opposition parties 2015 manifestos covered these issues in more depth. 

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Digital Liberty, a baseline

I am preparing to write a blog on Digital Liberty and the Parties’ manifesto positions. I was looking to see how I categorised the issues so I could create a summary view and I found the motion that was the basis for my previous submission on policy. This text has been recovered from a Labour Party motion carried at the Lewisham Deptford GC at their April ’14 meeting. I used it as the basis for a submission to the LP’s New Britain site which they have, of course shit canned; it was their policy development site. I think the motion stands the test of time. 

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here come de Judge

The highest levels of international judiciary have been busy over the last week, I report and comment on the Microsoft vs. FBI on linkedin Pulse, in an article called “Citizens Win”. It was quite simple in the end, the law under which the FBI was seeking search warrant powers was not on of the post 911 laws, but an earlier one and the US District Court says that the law grants no power of inspection abroad. The spooks are going to have to apply for an Irish warrant. In Europe however, Tom Watson’s & David Davies’s judicial review on DRIPA have reached the Advocate General. This reported by Tom Watson here, and by Glyn Moody here. Watson writes about the need for strong judicial review of the search warrants, and Moody brings up that mass surveillance can only be used in the fight against serious crime.

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Labour’s front bench and surveillance.

big brother is watching you

The Labour Campaign for Human Rights organised an event at which Kier Starmer, Labour’s shadow spokesman on the Investigatory Powers Bill, he introduced himself, and pointed to his record as a Barrister where he has been involved in a number of cases prosecuting the government, the police and the intelligence agencies and his time as DPP. He says his experience shows him the “the reality of the crimes to be fought”.  (This is not necessarily a scarce resource if you came to adulthood living in the UK in the eighties, or were working or travelling in London on 7th July 2005.) The rest of this article looks at the critiques made by the guest speakers and audience; it’s a piece of reporting, not a polemic, there’s plenty of those around. Basically the view in the room was it’s not fit for purpose, the new powers are too extensive, the old powers are too extensive, the proposed oversight remains too weak and the powers are not necessary, effective or proportionate. Those of us in the Labour Party can also add, the question where did this come from as Party policy.

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The Snooper’s Charter again! :'(

The Tory Government, have republished the Snooper’s Charter, 😥 changed some of the words and it has been inching towards the House of Commons via three parliamentary committees of experts, all of whom have criticised the Bill as it stands. The Labour Party plans to abstain on the 2nd reading, and explains why here. The campaigning academic, Paul Bernal, has written a blog, welcoming Andy Burnham’s press release as the most pro-privacy comments made by a Labour Shadow Home Secretary and makes the following comments.

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On an informed citizenry

I was invited to attend Tom Watson’s speech building on much of his campaigning work and presented in the New Statesman as reclaiming civil liberty for the Left, although sub titled by him as “David Cameron is governing from the shadows”. In this article I review the speech; I try to report on it and to comment by adding some personal views and insights, in some cases new ideas provoked by Tom’s speech. It was quite a long speech and it takes a diverse route to get to its polemical heart which is that Democracy is the choice by an informed citizenry of a government, subject to the rule of law and that the Freedom of Information Act is one of the pillars of this contract and should not be diminished or repealed.

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Labour’s Human Rights champion

Left Foot Forward publishes an article “Who is the ‘human rights candidate’ for Labour’s leadership?”. This is based on a post on the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, who publish the candidates answers in their own words  on their own blog.  One of the LCHR’s questions was on Surveillance, and none of them have consulted me ;), but Cooper and Burnham both support the need for judicial authorisation and probable cause. Kendall and Corbyn both support strengthening the legal framework in favour of civil liberties. Kendall states she opposes the privacy breaches inherent in mass surveillance. Corbyn that he thinks mass surveillance is ineffective (and thus not justified?).

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Labour & Digital

Trefor Davies of trefor.net commissioned and published an article by me on the state of the politics of digital and its likely impact on the General Election. In the article I classify the issues around citizenship and economics. Obviously the manifesto has not been published and so prediction of its content is not easy. Regular readers will know that I am a supporter of both the Open Rights Group and Privacy International. I have also served on NESSI, the EU’s internet/I.T. R&D project incubator.  I am hopeful on the issues of citizenship, unsure on copyright and intellectual property laws and expect a good offer on digital government. Read more …

The EU D.P. Regulations falls at the hurdle

Glynn Moody, of course,  at TechDirt, syndicates the EDRi scoop about the final stages of the new EU Data Protection Regulation exposing the National Governments’ role in weakening the current legislation which have completed their 1st & 2nd stages. The EDRI have published a document called “Broken Badly” which contains their critique of the Council’s behaviour and positions because they weaken the rules around consent (both authorisation and purpose), corporate sanctions, duty to notify breaches, and the problematic one stop shop for jurisdiction. Correspondence to Chris Grayling I suppose.

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