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Press releases

Press releases


October 20, 2010 | Florian Leppla

First ACTA debate tonight in European Parliament

Tonight (Wednesday), after two and a half years, MEPs will debate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for the first time. The debate is scheduled for the last session, between 9pm and midnight.

MEPs have in the past taken a strong line against ACTA. Kader Arif MEP has reiterated that the Parliament's opinion must be taken into account, even if that means that ACTA has to be re-negotiated.1

Carl Schlyter, an MEP from the Greens/EFA, has sought an expert opinion on ACTA from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Group, an independent EU advisory body.2 He challenges whether ACTA is even compliant with the Maastricht Treaty.

ACTA has also received considerable opposition outside of the EU. A US Senator has requested a legal review of ACTA 3 and the Mexican Senate voted to withdraw the country entirely from ACTA negotiations 4.

The misleading titled ACTA goes beyond addressing counterfeiting, but aims to establish global standards for regulation of the Internet and enforce online copyright infringement.

Moreover, like with many treaties in the past, the US and EU will “encourage” other countries to agree to ACTA provisions in return, for example, for access to US or EU domestic markets. Arguably this coerces developing countries into implementing legislation that is wholly inappropriate for them and in which they had little, if any, say.

 

References

1 http://www.catherinetrautmann.eu/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=492&cntnt01returnid=68

2 http://en.act-on-acta.eu/11_October_request_for_an_Article_29_Working_Party_assessment_of_ACTA

3 http://www.keionline.org/node/969

4 http://www.keionline.org/node/961

 

 

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October 01, 2010 | Florian Leppla

ACS:Law leak shows that Digital Economy Act carries massive privacy concerns

Unwarranted private surveillance have led to a huge leak of sensitive personal data from ACS:Law. The leak also appears to contain information about alleged infringers. (1)

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"It's shocking that ACS:Law are prepared to use the Digital Economy Act for their processes in future. (2)

"And there is little to stop them. They could self-certify their evidence collecting process and send the data to ISPs. (3)

"The question is if Ofcom will let us see these methods or will they allow calls of "commercial confidentiality" to keep parts of the processes closed from view?"

 

References

(1) http://torrentfreak.com/acslaw-anti-piracy-law-firm-torn-apart-by-leaked-emails-100925/

(2) In one of the leaked emails an ACS:Law lawyer is quoted as saying: "I have made sure that the requirements satisfy the requirements set out in OFCOM’s draft code of conduct."

(3) Section 7/124E(2) of the DEA requires that the initial obligations code makes the required provision about Copyright Infringement Reports (CIR) by specifying “requirements as to the means of obtaining evidence of infringement of copyright for inclusion in a report”, and “the standard of evidence that must be included”. The draft initial obligations code makes no provisions specifying the means of obtaining evidence of infringement of copyright for inclusion, and neither does it make provisions specifying the standard of evidence that must be included.

Section 3.5 to 3.7 of the draft initial obligations code outlines, in relation to evidence gathering process what it calls a “quality assurance process”. But this process does not specify the means of obtaining evidence or the standard of evidence included, only that the copyright owner will have to follow the process outline in their QA report which is to be submitted to Ofcom. The DEA does not require such a QA system.

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September 22, 2010 | Florian Leppla

MPs fail to scrutinise ACTA, confirms IPO

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has confirmed that MPs have not seen the current text of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The IPO, making these comments in a meeting ORG attended, also said that the DCMS Select Committee has not discussed the treaty with the IPO at any stage. Despite its name important parts of ACTA deal with copyright enforcement.

Florian Leppla, Campaigner at the Open Rights Group, said:

“I'm shocked that this international agreement that goes well beyond existing copyright treaties has not been examined by Parliament.1 ACTA will affect all of us and our elected representatives need to know what we are signing up to.

"Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, has questioned the legality of ACTA under EU privacy laws.2

"ACTA would allow for disporportionate civil copyright damages well beyond current UK law.3 Yet we have been told that changes in law would not be necessary.

"ACTA will drive the UK towards privacy violations, and commit governments to act against personal copyright infringement. It will be used as a weapon to push for new erosions of fundamental rights - without anyone from our Parliament having taken a serious look."

 

1 The only public release of the ACTA text was published in April, http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/html/146029.htm.

2 Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the current negotiations by the European Union of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), http://www.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/webdav/site/mySite/shared/Documents/Consultation/Opinions/2010/10-02-22_ACTA_EN.pdf.

3 As set out in s97(1) Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

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September 14, 2010 | Florian Leppla

45 million internet users face higher bills

Using the internet will become more expensive as a result of the Government's announcement today to include ISPs in the cost of the letter writing regime following the Digital Economy Act.

Reacting to the Government's statement today, Florian Leppla, Campaigner at the Open Rights Group said:

"Is it right to take up to £500 million out of the economy in the middle of a recession and waste it on a scheme that is unlikely to bring any benefits?1

"It would be much better if rightholders spent that money on finding new online content services.

"The Government's own figures show that up to 96,000 that belong to families that may  be unable to afford an internet connection.

"Rightholders wanted the Digital Economy Act. It benefits them so they should pay the full costs for its implementation."

-ends-


1 The Government estimated the costs for the implementation for ISP at a total £290-500m: Digital Economy Act 2010: Impact Assessment, April 2010 (p55,78).

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June 24, 2010 | Jim Killock

NEWS: EU data protection complaint to UK is justified and timely

Welcoming Vice-President Viviane Reding's continuing infraction proceedings against the UK, calling for the UK's Information Commissioner to have the powers supposedly granted under the Data Protection Directive, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"Data protection in the UK is weaker than it should be. Powers to fine and inspect private companies are vital. Nor does UK law recognise the idea of 'moral damage' from data intrusions, but will only punish provable financial harm.

"The new government has a great chance to strengthen UK law and make good on the coalition's desire to protect our citizen's privacy."

Vivian Reding's press release can be read here.

 

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May 28, 2010 | Florian Leppla

Absurd lack of clarity in Ofcom's draft code

Responding to Ofcom's Initial Obligations Code, released today, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"This is another extremely rushed process, forced by the Digital Economy Act's absurd timetables. There are huge unanswered questions, not least whether innocent people will have to pay to appeal.

"Government needs to draw a clear line between the notifications and potential disconnection regimes. Otherwise, Ofcom can't tell people what these accusations mean, which is absurd.

"Both Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, and the Liberal Democrats recognised the likely flaws of the Act during the debates. It is Mandelson's Act and they should not feel obliged to do his dirty work."

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February 05, 2010 | Jim Killock

Joint Committee on Human Rights demands rights for internet users

 

Commenting on the Joint Committee on Human Rights condemnation of the Digital Economy Bill, Jim Killock, Executive Director the Open Rights Group said:
"The Lords have highlighted some of the serious problems with this Bill.
"We urge the front benches to take a hard look at this, and guarantee rights to a fair trial and proportionate punishments. Disconnection is draconian and unpredicabley damaging - that is not how law should work."

Commenting on the Joint Committee on Human Rights report on the Digital Economy Bill, Jim Killock, Executive Director the Open Rights Group said:

"MPs and Lords have highlighted some of the serious problems with this Bill.

"We urge the front benches to take a hard look at this, and guarantee rights to a fair trial and proportionate punishments. Disconnection is draconian and unpredicabley damaging - that is not how law should work."

 

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November 20, 2009 | Jim Killock

Digital Economy Bill: reaction

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“People’s rights are at stake. The Bill doesn’t require any test of evidence before harsh punishments are imposed on people accused of copyright infringement, and opens the door to a ratcheting up of unwarranted powers without democratic scrutiny.

“There is a massive swell of action against this Bill, led by creators, citizens and people working in digital industries, who are outraged by this attempt by old businesses to hijack our rights.”

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October 19, 2009 | Jim Killock

Poll shows Mandelson’s disconnection plans is vote loser

Nearly half of respondents would be less likely to vote for a party supporting disconnection

A new YouGov poll for the Open Rights Group shows that nearly a third (31%) of UK citizens would be much less likely to vote for a party that supported internet disconnection for online copyright infringement. A further 13% would be a ‘little less likely’: in total, 44% would be less likely to vote for a party that supported such a policy.

Nearly three quarters (73%) said if they were disconnected, they would find their ability to use vital commercial services, such as shopping and banking, completely disrupted or fairly harmed. Over 40% said their ability to work or gain an education would be harmed.

When asked to choose, respondents also supported the right to a trial before punishments are imposed.

68% said that, if the Government’s proposals go ahead, a court should consider the evidence before restrictions are imposed, while only 16% were in favour of automatic procedures based on accusations, as is currently proposed.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“This poll shows people rely on the internet, and an overwhelming majority think that access should only ever be withdrawn as the result of court action. Nearly a third would be much less likely to vote for a party that supports disconnection proposals.

“Only a tiny number – 16% - think the government has got this right.

“Clearly Mandelson is out of step with public opinion and should think again.

“MPs should take note, and sign the cross-party Early Day Motion opposing these extreme proposals.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1967 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 15th October 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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October 15, 2009 | Jim Killock

Parliament’s credibility undermined by back track on citizens’ rights

Amendment 138, guaranteeing Internet access and protecting fundamental civil liberties, is being watered down by Parliamentary negotiators seeking a compromise with the EU Council.
Jim Killock said:

“Parliament’s credibility is being fatally undermined just as they are about to be given a stronger role defending our rights.

“It is galling that the MEP’s negotiator Catherine Trautmann wants to agree that restrictions to internet access and fundamental freedoms can be imposed pretty much at will.

“This goes directly against the intentions of the 88% of the Parliament that voted for citizens’ to have guarantees of their fundamental rights.

“Since 2004, Parliament has lost every battle with the Council. This means that member states can negotiate their citizens rights away behind closed doors: unless the EU Parliament develops some back bone.

“If I were an MEP right now, I would be asking some very tough questions of their negotiators, who are busy consigning Parliament to a long future as a rubber stamp.”
Full details can be found at La Quadrature du Net’s press release.

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