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July 24, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Tell Ofcom to fix the threat to wifi

Ofcom are running a consultation on a new version of the 'Initial Obligations Code'. That sounds as boring as it is important. It basically sets out how the Digital Economy Act will work in practice. 

ORG and many others have repeatedly told Ofcom and the Government that the Digital Economy Act could stifle Wifi provision and see individuals targeted unfairly. It is the Code which should sort that out. But the revised Code, two years in the making, has not addressed some of the key issues. 

Ofcom and the Government have refused to create an exception for wifi providers. As a result, we think the Code leaves businesses and public bodies that provide wifi facing allegations of copyright infringement and the costs of dealing with the powers of the Act. Libraries, other educational bodies and hospitality businesses have said they may restrict or withdraw wifi provision if this does not change. 

This is our chance to say why this is a bad idea. 

There are two things you can do. 

  1. Please consider responding to the consultation yourself, especially if you are a wifi provider or regularly use wifi in public and are worried about how this will affect you. You have until this Thursday (26th July). You can respond to the consultation using the form on Ofcom's website. Or there are more details on how to respond at the bottom of this email. 
  2. Tell us if you are a wifi provider, and think you might receive allegations of copyright infringement as a result. You can use our form to let us know, and we'll pass this on to Ofcom as part of our submission.    


What is happening?

Ofcom have published their revised 'Initial Obligations Code'. This sets out who is subject to the provisions of the Digital Economy Act, and who is not. It says, for example, whether those that provide access to wifi in public places, like cafes, will have to deal with allegations of copyright infringement.

Wifi providers still don't know whether they will be held liable for the behaviour of those using their wifi. The revised Code does not address their situation directly, leaving them unclear as to whether they will be considered 'subscribers' (and therefore subject to allegations of copyright infringement) or not. The only way they can avoid this is by negotiating with their ISPs, convincing them they are wifi providers. It is complicated and time-consuming, and it is not even certain that this will see them avoid the powers of the Act.

This is despite repeated warnings from libraries, campaigners and MPs about the precarious position wifi providers are being placed in. If you run a business that provides open Wifi or access to customers - for example, a cafe, bar, or hotel - then this Code affects you. Wifi is an increasingly important part of the UK's internet infrastructure. The Government should not be putting that at risk so cheaply. 

We think Ofcom should create a carve out for public bodies and businesses that provide Wifi to their customers, to ensure that WiFi provision is still as widely available as possible.

Ofcom's site has the new Code and consultation document. Saskia Walzel from Consumer Focus has written more about the detail of the proposals for ORGZine

What can I do?


Two things. First, if you are a wifi provider, or regularly use the Wifi available in the places mentioned above, and feel the Code does not do enough to protect wifi provision, then please let Ofcom know.  This is a real opportunity to tell the Government that the Digital Economy Act still poses a serious risk to the provision of Wifi in the UK. If you think you will be affected, respond to the consultation. The deadline is 26th July. Ofcom have given you a few ways to respond. Here's what they say:

  1. "Online: The quickest and simplest way is to complete our online consultation response form. This is ideal for people who have specific brief points to make and/or do not need to attach large documents to their response.
  2. By email: For larger consultation responses - particularly those with supporting charts, tables or other data - please email onlinecopyrightinfringement@ofcom.org.uk attaching your response in Microsoft Word format, together with a consultation coversheet.
  3. By post: Alternatively, you can write to Ofcom. Please address your response to Justin Le Patourel, Head of Online Copyright, Floor 2, Internet Policy Team, Ofcom, Riverside House, 2A Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA. Please enclose a consultation coversheet with your response."

Second, we'd like to use your stories to help us explain to Ofcom the issues with the Code. There's two things we'd like to know:

  1. Tell us if you provide wifi to the public, and are worried that you might incorrect receive allegations of copyright infringement. Give us details if possible about the kind of wifi you provide. 
  2. 2. People will be given 20 days to appeal allegations of infringement. If you think this will not be long enough, let us know and tell us why. 

You can use our form to tell us. Please submit your story before the end of this Wednesday (25th July). 

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July 18, 2012 | Jim Killock

Snooper's Charter: a Bill without a proposal

Yesterday’s hearings on the proposed Communications Data Bill provided for some hilarity, as Professor Glees laid into the “civil liberties lobby” and made quite outrageous claims for the need for increased surveillance to reduce criminality.

He made a very weak case. Which seems comforting: but Professor Glees is not the government, nor Charles Farr.

The signs are that the Home Office is gearing up to bolster their arguments, starting with calls to gather evidence for the “business case” for new data gathering, mentioned by the police in their evidence session.

While constructing the business case after you propose legislation ought to worry the committee, for us, the lack of detail surrounding the proposals is highly worrying. Julian Huppert today said that he was declined access to draft orders, which would contain more information. Big Brother Watch were declined information about the costs and analysis breakdowns, which we have also requested.

How is committee meant to scrutinize a proposal that has not been properly published?

The committee’s debate has been encouraging. We have managed to advance the idea of notification of people after they have been investigated; the need for independent supervision has also been properly discussed. Most commentators have assumed that the scheme will aim at creating data mining capabilities.

The questions over capability, data mining and the consequences of collection are harder to articulate. We reminded the Committee about China hacking Google via police back doors; and Vodaphone Greece being hacked via law enforcement back doors by an unknown government.

Data, once created, poses a risk. It is interesting to criminal gangs and foreign governments, as well as law enforcement. Law enforcement is not entitled to put the whole population at risk because of its own needs, especially when these can be met in other ways.

Hopefully the risks will be discussed in more detail in the technical sessions, now planned for 4 September.

However, all of us worried by this Bill do need to know more about what this supposed reduction of data really is about. Is it law enforcement having investigatory problems, and lacking expertis in finding the relevant data? Is it that some companies have good data minimization policies? We need to know, in order to help the Committee understand the real options available.

 

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July 13, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Lords Committee knocks Digital Economy Act Costs Order

Digital Economy Act time. Remember that?! We spent yesterday morning at Ofcom, who kindly offered us and a couple of other organisations the chance to ask questions about their revised Initial Obligations Code. It was a useful exercise. It's clear that they have done plenty of work on the code since the previous draft in 2010. It seems to us like there's plenty still to look at - for example there's still plenty of uncertainty around the liabilities to be faced by WiFi providers, in our opinion. They're running a consultation which closes on 26th July. We'll write up and publish our response soon, and we will also be asking you to respond, especially if you are a wifi provider such as a cafe, hotel or library and are concerned about how the Code may affect you.

Shortly after yesterday's meeting, the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee published its report on the Draft Online Infringement (Initial Obligations) (Sharing Of Costs) Order 2012. They conclude that "The House may wish to press the Minister in debate for greater reassurance about whether this scheme will function effectively; and we draw the Order to the attention of the House on the grounds that it may imperfectly achieve its policy objective."

They criticise the £20 appeals fee, the confusion around the position of wifi providers such as libraries, and the laying of the order whilst a consultation was ongoing. The Committee ends by questioning whether the objective of reducing copyright infringement by 75% is achievable.

(The Committee scrutinises secondary legislation and makes recommendations to the House on its findings. The Sharing of Costs Order 2012  requires 'Ofcom to set fees payable by Copyright Owners to ISPs and to Ofcom if they intend to take advantage of a notification scheme in relation to online infringements of their copyright.')

If you are following the Digital Economy Act, it really is worth reading the full report. Some of the more choice comments:

  • "We…note that DCMS offer no robust definition of what they interpret as "vexatious" or "frivolous" appeals" 
  • "we note that paragraph 10.4 of the EM says first that under the Initial Obligations Code libraries offering public access networks will not be considered to be ISPs but in the following sentence the EM says that they can claim that they are ISPs. We find this confusing; and we remain unclear whether or not such institutions will be charged the £20 appeal fee." (The EM referred to is the Explanatory Memorandum.) 
  • "DCMS should have given the House a much clearer explanation of how this Order fits into the wider policy context."
  • "We were also concerned about the unusual situation where DCMS have laid before Parliament an Order that is the subject of an ongoing consultation. DCMS assured us that the consultation relates only to the implementation of the Order and not to the instrument itself. However, if DCMS is not yet clear about how the scheme will be implemented, it raises questions about how can they set the level of an appeal fee that satisfies the terms of the Treasury Rules for full cost recovery"
  • "the Committee does not have sufficient information to judge whether £20 is the appropriate amount given that significant parts of the structure of the scheme and the appeal mechanism are still undecided."
  • "This Order makes a division of costs based on a large number of currently unknown factors, and those who are required to operate it have made it clear that their cooperation is entirely dependent on financial considerations. This raises questions about whether DCMS's policy objective of reducing online infringement of copyright by 75% is achievable."

Now, this may all sound extremely niche and complicated. And it kind of is. But its also really important. The IOC and the Costs Order are supposed to clarify key substantive issues in the Digital Economy Act. It is telling that 2 years after it passed, some of these are still a cause for concern - including, as the Committee points out, why a £20 appeals fee was decided to be most effective and reasonable option. There are some lessons here - if you rush an Act, based on an inadequate analysis of objectives and how to achieve them, without sufficient scrutiny, then you'll probably have to spend quite a lot of time afterwards trying to clear up the mess.

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July 12, 2012 | Jim Killock

Opposing mass data surveillance

Yesterday, I attended the Joint Committee hearings examining the Communications Data Bill – aka the Snooper’s Charter – on behalf of the Open Rights Group. I joined Dr Gus Hosein of Privacy International, Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch, and David Davis MP on the panel.

The session was cut short, so we will be going back next week, to share a panel with Liberty and Justice, who will be outlining the civil liberties and human rights case against the Bill.

On Wednesday, Charles Farr of the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism at the Home Office attended with two supporting officials to outline the government’s case. I listened to their case, which was very surprising. As Peter Bradwell at ORG observed, it was if they were discussing a different bill.

Farr claimed that “black boxes” were a small part of the plans. Black boxes would target a small number of sites where co-operation could not be obtained. Mostly the Home Office aimed to co-operate with private companies, including companies overseas.

Those companies – like Google and Facebook – seem to be in the dark, although Farr and Theresa May say they have been briefed.

The problem we have here is that the Home Office has not published a proposal, nor presented evidence of it. Instead, they have published the legislative language surrounding the proposal. The Committee and groups like PI, BBW and ORG are having to reverse engineer what the proposals really are from the words of Charles Farr and the Bill itself.

Normally, a defined proposal would allow us to assess the real technological and civil rights risks. A public consultation would allow us to present counter-evidence and engage in a debate. Though these processes are flawed, we would at least have a firm idea of what we are dealing with.

Similarly, the Joint Committee are teasing out potential issues working back from the face of the Bill. To our mind, any range of possible plans could be enabled by this legislation. The previous Intercept Modernisation Plan could easily be enabled through the powers in the draft legislation.

We need to know why and how has consultation been avoided. We need to see the actual plans, costs, justifications, beyond the Impact Assessment. The Home Office needs to publish plans on which they can fully consult.

Nevertheless, the Committee seems to be doing a good job in very difficult circumstances. They are certainly teasing out many of the potential issues, and current problems with RIPA’s lack of oversight. Gus Hosein yesterday made a compelling case for abandoning “collection” duties, which are absent in all other democratic countries. David Davis demolished the idea that judicial oversight was cumbersome and unnecessary. ORG outlined the proliferation of data which the police are benefiting from: hardly a ‘reduction’ of capability.

ORG, PI and BBW pointed to real evidence in other countries showing reductions in use of retained data, and increases in detection rates. In the Czech Republic, Luridicum Remidium report that detection (in 2010) went up from 37.55% to 38.54% despite a tenfold drop in requests for information. In Germany, the Federal Crime Agency reported that under data retention, a smaller proportion of crimes were resolved.

One question was asked that does seem, on one level, difficult. How do you make sure you have the information on the one or two very serious cases where it is difficult to obtain the data otherwise? David Davis pointed out that having the data doesn’t mean it is used. Often, more data just means more haystacks obscuring the same needle.

Equally, we cannot use “we must have the data just in case” as a starting point. If we did, why not bug every park, every car and every pub? Or demand logs of library borrowings?

The starting point with communications data is that it has been already created for private business purposse, so access is reasonable. Collection duties imposed on ISPs would move us away from that position into increasingly dangerous territory.

One thing that has been very clear to us over the last weeks is that we need a clear movement, gathering public opinion against this Bill. Many MPs do not believe the public is concerned, and others do not think that MPs can be moved away from support once terrorism is mentioned.

That’s what we need to work on. Other organizations will of course play their part, like 38 Degrees, No2ID and Liberty, but ORG can be pivotal in organizing and networking the opposition to this proposal. Can you help?

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July 04, 2012 | Jim Killock

ACTA: you won!

Today, the European Parliament resoundingly voted against ACTA!

The vote was 478 against, 39 in favour, with 165 abstentions.

This victory was thanks to your continued pressure which helped ensure that at every step of the way Europe’s representatives voted to reject the provisions within ACTA. We know that MEPs have been inundated with emails and calls from people who, just like you, have fought tirelessly in the defence of democratic freedoms.

Your persistence has paid off: MEPs have listened and stood up for democracy – some of them doing so quite literally in a moment of post-vote triumph, holding placards reading ‘Hello Democracy, Goodbye ACTA.’

Unwilling to let ACTA die, Commissioner Karel de Gucht announced that, regardless of the Parliament's rejection, the European Commission would wait for the ECJ's decision on the treaty's compatibility with fundamental rights and freedoms, before considering what to do next. This attempt to delay this issue further and pull the wool over our eyes will fail so long as the Open Rights Group and activists like you remain vigilant.

With more threats on the horizon like the “Snooper's Charter” now is the time to help ORG continue to defend democracy and digital rights by joining today!

http://www.openrightsgroup.org/join

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July 02, 2012 | James Booth

ACTA: We’re almost there!

Update 2012-07-04: The European Parliament voted to reject ACTA (478-to-39).

This Wednesday (4th July), the European Parliament will hold a plenary vote as to whether to give consent to the provisions within ACTA. So far, your efforts have helped to ensure that all five of the Committees (INTA, LIBE, JURI, ITRE and DEVE), whose responsibility it was to scrutinise ACTA and present their findings, have consecutively recommended its rejection. Their voices will be influential as to the way in which the European Parliament will vote on Wednesday – but so will yours!

What’s next?

The vote on Wednesday is the most important. The decision of the European Parliament will determine whether ACTA becomes binding upon the 27 EU Members States. The European Parliament can vote to oppose, approve, or refer the matter to the European Court of Justice, but it cannot alter the content of the treaty.

What are we up against?

Shortly after the INTA vote, Greens MEP Amelia Andersdotter accused EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht of placing “undue pressure” on the INTA Committee by “asking [them] to vote in a certain way”. A day prior, de Gucht told the Committee that, regardless of their recommendation, the Commission would “nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do”. Should the ECJ “question the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties”, he said, “we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed”.

It would seem that, despite consistent, significant, and legitimate democratic opposition to the treaty, Karel de Gucht is determined to press ahead with ACTA in any way he can. “Clarifications”, promised to be made should the ECJ decide against ACTA, are simply not possible: the treaty has now been signed, and so its contents cannot be amended unless it is first ratified.

What is wrong with ACTA?

We believe that ACTA is such an imbalanced treaty that it disproportionately and unnecessarily puts innovation and freedom of expression at risk. By attempting to deal with two hugely different issues – the counterfeiting of physical goods and digital copyright infringement – the treaty lacks the kind of surgical precision necessary to ensure that fundamental rights are not sacrificed in pursuit of its goals.

Furthermore, ACTA promotes and incentivises the private 'policing' of online content through, for example, its broad thresholds for its criminal measures. It exacerbates such problems by failing to provide adequate and robust safeguards for fundamental freedoms. We set out some key points in our briefing paper.

From the moment it was sprung upon Europe, following a drafting process held in secret, the passage of ACTA has been lubricated by a total disregard for democratic principles. The European Commission has effectively sought to move decisions about ACTA further away from the people and their elected representatives.

There has been a positive consequence of all this: we have seen a renewal of interest in the workings of European democratic institutions, as large numbers of people engage with difficult debates and complex institutional processes in an attempt to understand and influence the passage of ACTA through Europe. People like you have helped to make sure that the democratic process is respected and obeyed.

What do I need to do?

The decisions of the five Committees were, quite rightly, heavily influenced by the many people across Europe who contacted their MEPs to explain the problems with ACTA. The vote in the European Parliament will be no different.

For what is hopefully the last time, we’re asking you to get in touch with your MEP and explain to them how ACTA is flawed, how you want them to vote, and why.

Who is my MEP?

We’ve listed the names and contact details for each of the 73 MEPs representing constituents within the United Kingdom. Find yours below, and give them a call!

Your MEPs

East Midlands

  • MEP: Bill Newton Dunn
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75712
    • E-mail: bill.newtondunn@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer to party
  • MEP: Derek Clark
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75552
    • E-mail: derekroland.clark@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Emma McClarkin
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75684
    • E-mail: emma.mcclarkin@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Glenis Willmott
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75459
    • E-mail: glenis.willmott@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Roger Helmer
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75764
    • E-mail: roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against

East of England

  • MEP: Andrew Duff
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75998
    • E-mail: andrew.duff@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: David Campbell Bannerman
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75733
    • E-mail: david.campbellbannerman@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: Geoffrey Van Orden
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75332
    • E-mail: geoffrey.vanorden@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known / defer to party
  • MEP: Richard Howitt
    • Party: Labour
    • ContactTel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75477
    • E-mail: richard.howitt@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer to party
  • MEP: Stuart Agnew
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75404
    • E-mail: johnstuart.agnew@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Vicky Ford
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75672
    • E-mail: vicky.ford@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Robert Sturdy
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): 33 3 88 1 75294
    • E-mail: robert.sturdy@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Unknown

London

  • MEP: Charles Tannock
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75870
    • E-mail: charles.tannock@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Claude Moraes
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75553
    • E-mail: claude.moraes@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Gerard Batten
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75920
    • E-mail: gerard.batten@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Dr Syed Kamall MEP
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 88 1 75792
    • E-mail: syed.kamall@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): In favour, decision maker for Conservative group
  • MEP: Jean Lambert
    • Party: Greens (E&W)
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75507
    • E-mail: jean.lambert@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: Marina Yannakoudakis
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75692
    • E-mail: marina.yannakoudakis@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Mary Honeyball
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75209
    • E-mail: mary.honeyball@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Baroness Sarah Ludford
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75104
    • E-mail: sarah.ludford@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer

North East England

  • MEP: Fiona Hall
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75561
    • E-mail: fiona.hall@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Martin Callanan
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75701
    • E-mail: martin.callanan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Stephen Hughes
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75408
    • E-mail: stephen.hughes@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

North West England

  • MEP: Arlene McCarthy
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75501
    • E-mail: arlene.mccarthy@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Brian Simpson
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75510
    • E-mail: brian.simpson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Chris Davies
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75353
    • E-mail: chris@chrisdaviesmep.org.uk
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Jacqueline Foster
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75674
    • E-mail: jacqueline.foster@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Nick Griffin
    • Party: BNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75772
    • E-mail: nick.griffin@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Paul Nuttall
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75740
    • E-mail: paul.nuttall@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Sajjad Karim
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75640
    • E-mail: sajjad.karim@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75373
    • E-mail: robert.atkins@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Northern Ireland

  • MEP: Diane Dodds
    • Party: DUP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75770
    • E-mail: diane.dodds@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Jim Nicholson
    • Party: UCUNF
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75933
    • E-mail: james.nicholson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Martina Anderson
    • Party: SF
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75222
    • E-mail: martina.anderson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Scotland

  • MEP: Alyn Smith
    • Party: SNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75187
    • E-mail: alyn.smith@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Likely against
  • MEP: Catherine Stihler
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75462
    • E-mail: catherine.stihler@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: David Martin
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75539
    • E-mail: david.martin@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Against
  • MEP: George Lyon
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75628
    • E-mail: george.lyon@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Ian Hudghton
    • Party: SNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75499
    • E-mail: ian.hudghton@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Struan Stevenson
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75499
    • E-mail: struan.stevenson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

South East England

  • MEP: Catherine Bearder
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 3 88 1 75710
    • E-mail: catherine.bearder@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Daniel Hannan
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75137
    • E-mail: daniel.hannan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Unsure
  • MEP: James Elles
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75951
    • E-mail: james.elles@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Keith Taylor
    • Party: Greens (E&W)
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75153
    • E-mail: keith.taylor@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Definitely against
  • MEP: Marta Andreasen
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75726
    • E-mail: marta.andreasen@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Nigel Farage
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75855
    • E-mail: nigel.farage@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Nirj Deva
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 77245
    • E-mail: nirj.deva@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer
  • MEP: Peter Skinner
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75458
    • E-mail: peter.skinner@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Will decide with rest of party
  • MEP: Richard Ashworth
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75309
    • E-mail: richardjames.ashworth@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Will decide with rest of party

South West England

  • MEP: Ashley Fox
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75677
    • E-mail: ashley.fox@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Giles Chichester
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75296
    • E-mail: giles.chichester@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Sir Graham Watson
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75626
    • E-mail: graham.watson@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Likely against
  • MEP: Julie Girling
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75678
    • E-mail: julie.girling@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Trevor Colman
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75763
    • E-mail: trevor.colman@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: William, Earl of Dartmouth
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75735
    • E-mail: william.dartmouth@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Wales

  • MEP: Derek Vaughan
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75419
    • E-mail: derek.vaughan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Jill Evans
    • Party: PC
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75103
    • E-mail: Jill.evans@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Eluned Morgan
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 3 88 175 457
    • E-mail: eluned.morgan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: John Bufton
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75730
    • E-mail: john.bufton@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

West Midlands

  • MEP: Anthea McIntyre
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75106
    • E-mail: anthea.mcintyre@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Wait for ECJ decision
  • MEP: Malcolm Harbour
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75132
    • E-mail: malcolm.harbour@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Michael Cashman
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75759
    • E-mail: michael.cashman@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): In Favour
  • MEP: Mike Nattrass
    • Party: UKIP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75133
    • E-mail: michaelhenry.nattrass@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Nikki Sinclaire
    • Party: Independent
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75756
    • E-mail: nikki.sinclaire@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Phil Bennion
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75521
    • E-mail: phil.bennion@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Philip Bradbourn
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75407
    • E-mail: philip.bradbourn@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • MEP: Andrew Brons
    • Party: BNP
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75773
    • E-mail: andrew.brons@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Edward McMillan-Scott
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75959
    • E-mail: edward.mcmillan-scott@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Godfrey Bloom MEP
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +33 3 88 175 469
    • E-mail: godfrey.bloom@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Linda McAvan
    • Party: Labour
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75438
    • E-mail: linda.mcavan@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Rebecca Taylor
    • Party: Lib Dem
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75201
    • E-mail: rebecca.taylor@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Not known
  • MEP: Timothy Kirkhope
    • Party: Conservative
    • Contact Tel (Strasbourg): +333 88 1 75321
    • E-mail: timothy.kirkhope@europarl.europa.eu
    • Position on ACTA (if known): Defer

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June 21, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Another key committee votes against ACTA!

This morning the MEPs in the INTA committee voted 19-12 in favour of David Martin MEP's opinion recommending ACTA be rejected. 

Congratulations and a huge thank you to all who contacted their MEPs about this. You made a real difference! It's a big win. 

As with previous committees, there was once again some drama involved (in the unlikely setting of a European Parliament committee room). Before the vote on MEP Martin's opinion, amendments 1 and 2, which said the committee should recommend ACTA is supported, were withdrawn. MEPs then voted 19-12 against Syed Kamall MEP's amendment, which would have seen the 'plenary' European Parliament vote delayed.

Initially the vote result was 19-13. That struck everyone as slightly odd, because it was one more vote than the number of MEPs elgiible to vote. That prolongued the tension. But the repeat vote gave us 19-12 against MEP Kamall's amendment. (There's more information about the amendments and what was happening this morning on our previous blog).

If you want to relive the committee session (who needs Euro 2012 highlights when you have INTA committee voting sessions on tap?) you can do so at the INTA committee's site.  

Our attention now turns to the 'plenary' vote, where all the MEPs will vote, which will take place on 4th July. INTA is the lead committee, and their opinion will be important when MEPs come to make their decision. 

There is still much to do to convince MEPs in the plenary to vote against the treaty.

There have now been 5 committees that have said that the European Parliament should reject ACTA (more information on the previous 4). But what we have behind us is not just 5 useful opinions from committees. We have 5 examples of democracy in action, giving us proof that expressing your opinions to your elected representatives can have a real and demonstrable effect. 5 reasons to keep on the same path as we turn our attention to the plenary vote on 4th July. 

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June 19, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Help us win another crucial ACTA vote: call your MEP!

UPDATE: Thursday 21st June. MEPs in the INTA committee voted 19-12 in favour of David Martin MEP's opinion that ACTA be rejected! This also means you can stop emailing the MEPs in the trade committee about this vote...and get ready to email your MEP about the plenary vote on 4th July! More information on our new blog post

 

There's *another* crucial vote about ACTA this week in the European Parliament. This time, the lead committee, the international trade committee (INTA) will have to vote on its recommendation on Thursday (21 June) at 10am. You can help by calling your MEP before the vote!

Once again this is a really big vote. Once again it will really help if you contacted your MEP. Once again, it really will make a difference. The INTA committee is basically in charge of the 'dossier' - meaning they're leading on examining ACTA and recommending to the whole European Parliament whether it should give its consetn to or reject ACTA. They are supposed to take into account the other committee's opinions - which as you may remember, all voted to recommend ACTA is rejected

Those decisions were influenced hugely by the many people across Europe who got in touch with their MEPs to tell them why they think the European Parliament should reject the treaty. It's now to time to get back behind the wheel and get in touch with the members of the INTA committee to make sure they understand the problems, and why you care about it. 

There are seven UK MEPs in the INTA Committee. They're listed below, with contact details.

What's happening in this committee?

David Martin MEP is the lead member of the committee. His draft opinion recommends that ACTA is rejected. That's great! But some pro-ACTA amendments have been tabled - two calling for the adoption of ACTA, and one recommending that the final European Parliament vote be delayed until the decision of the European Court of Justice (the European Commission decided to refer ACTA to the ECJ earlier this year). That's not so great! They will vote on this on Thursday morning (21st) at 10am.

We would like MEPs in the committee to vote in favour of David Martin's opinion - that is to say, to recommend ACTA is rejected. And we believe that the plenary vote should happen as scheduled (this is the vote by the whole of the European Parliament on the ultimate decision, which is due to happen in early July). That means that we think the amendment recommending a delay to the plenary vote should be rejected. This amendment was proposed by MEP Syed Kamall, who represents London,

For all of the MEPs, we need to make sure they understand the reasons that we think ACTA is so flawed that it must be rejected. We believe that ACTA is such an imbalanced treaty that it unnecessarily puts innovation and freedom of expression at risk.

It tries to deal with hugely different issues (counterfeting of physical goods and digital infringements) under one treaty. And it promotes and incentivises the private 'policing' of online content, through for example its broad thresholds for its criminal measures. It exacerbates such problems by failing to provide adequate and robust safeguards for fundamental freedoms. We set out some key points in our briefing paper

Why shouldn't the vote be delayed? 

Syed Kamall MEP has proposed an amendment recommending a delay to the vote, arguing that the Parliament should wait for the decision of the European Court of Justice. It seems to us like this is merely an effort to undermine the momentum behind the effort to reject ACTA, and to take that polticial decision out of the hands of elected representatives. A decision from the ECJ could take years. 

We do not believe, for a number of reasons, that the Commission or the European Court of Justice can provide meaningful guarantees about the implementation of ACTA, and that a delay will simply deny citizens and their representatives the chance to make a meaningful political decision about this treaty.

For example, assurances given by the Commission about its own implementation of ACTA wouldn't be legally binding and would therefore not resolve the problems of the lack of clarity in the Agreement. For more on this, see EDRi's outline of the key remaining arguments.

Please tell your MEP if you disagree with this amendment - especially if you are in London and represented by Syed Kamall himself.

This is a test of how democratic and independent the European Parliament can be

Throughout the ACTA process the European Commission has consistently shown a disregard for democratic principles. They have effectively sought to move decisions about ACTA further away from people and their elected representatives. We have seen large numbers of people engaging with difficult debates and complex institutional processes through the passage of ACTA.

There has been a renewed interest in the workings of European democratic institutions, as the European Parliament has considered the treaty and responded to citizens' concerns.

A delay in the vote now will both legitimise this approach and severely undermine the growing democratic maturity of the European Parliament, especially following the recent votes in other committees (all four votes recommended the European Parliament reject ACTA). EDRi have also noted that this could be a watershed moment for the Parliament.

There's a slightly odd quirk to this as well. In tabling an amendment proposing that the committee votes to delay the crucial - and timely - plenary vote on ACTA, Syed Kamall is effectively supporting the European Commissions' efforts to take away this opportunity for elected reperesentatives to make their political decision about the treaty.  So if you are a constituent of Syed Kamall, you should certainly mention if you agree that the plenary vote should happen now, rather than being delayed until the opinion from the ECJ.

For more on why we think ACTA is so flawed, see our short briefing paper.  EDRI also have a run down of some of the key arguments, and have produced a sample script if you want some advice about what to say.

 

OK, OK, I get it. What do I need to do? 

Please call your MEPs! Explain why you care, and set out what you think they should do on Thursday morning. It will be a huge boost to the effort to defeat ACTA. Here's a list of which MEPs from which constituencies are involved. We have included notes relevant just to Syed Kamall and David Martin MEPs. Remeber, be polite - they're considering ACTA, not responsible for it!!

Get calling! And let us know how you get on.

London

  • MEP: Syed Kamall
  • Note: Tell Syed Kamall if you believe the plenary vote should not be delayed. The Commission nor the European Court of Justice cannot provide meaningful guarantees about the implementation of ACTA, and a delay will simply deny citizens and their representatives the chance they have now to make a meaningful decision about this treaty. You could ask him to withdraw his amendment if you agree with us. 
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45792
    • E-mail: syed.kamall@europarl.europa.eu

Scotland

  • MEP: David Martin
  • Note: David Martin MEP is the rapporteur for ACTA and has recommended the Parliament reject ACTA in his draft opinion. You could tell David Martin MEP that you welcome his draft opinion and express your support for his position, emphasising you hope that the committee votes to support his position.
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45539
    • E-mail: david.martin@europarl.europa.eu

East Midlands

  • MEP: Emma McClarkin
    • Contact Tel.: +322 28 45684
    • E-mail: emma.mcclarkin@europarl.europa.eu

South East England

  • MEP: Catherine Bearder
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45632
    • E-mail: catherine.bearder@europarl.europa.eu

East of England

  • MEP: David Campbell Bannerman
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45733
    • E-mail: david.campbellbannerman@europarl.europa.eu
  • MEP: Robert Sturdy
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45294 
    • E-mail: robert.sturdy@europarl.europa.eu

South West of England

  • MEP: William (the Earl of ) Dartmouth
    • Contact: Tel.: +322 28 45735
    • E-mail: william.dartmouth@europarl.europa.eu

 .

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