Press releases

Press releases


eBay must stop Epson’s patent abuse

Open Rights Group is challenging eBay to stop allowing Epson and other companies from removing eBay listings by merely alleging patent infringement.

Epson are engaging in a campaign to stop resellers from stocking certain Epson-compatible ink cartridges, alleging patent infringements. No manufacturer has been taken to court, and no court judgment exists to date.

eBay allow Epson and other trusted manufacturers to remove listings under their VeRO programme, but appear to only allow patent violations as a reason for a trusted takedown in Europe.

Open Rights Group Policy Officer Slavka Bielikova said:

“Ebay have previously stated that removing listings on the grounds of patent infringement should only be done with a court order. Yet in this case, they have allowed Epson to remove eBay listings on their say-so.

“We are also very worried about the patent claim itself. Companies should not be able to use patents to prevent components and compatible products from being connected to their proprietary hardware. If this was allowed it could damage the manufacture of compatible car parts and other very important third party products.”

Adrian Meakin owner of Ink Squid and one of the companies affected said: 

“Ebay should not be removing listings without a court order. They are allowing Epson to target compatible cartridge resellers and damage small businesses like mine without any real evidence that anything wrong has been done.

“My customers and my business deserve better treatment from eBay. Just because Epson are a big company doesn’t mean they are entitled to bully competitors with eBay’s help.”

eBay stated in relation to US patent claims:

“eBay has a policy to quickly remove listings when a NOCI [Notice of Claimed Infringement] provides a court order, but eBay rarely removes listings based on mere allegations of infringement. eBay has two reasons for this policy. First, eBay believes that removing listings based on allegations of infringement would be unfair to buyers and the accused sellers. Such a policy, in eBay’s view, would give too much power to unscrupulous patent holders. The second reason eBay has adopted its policy is because it lacks the expertise to construe the patent infringement claims submitted to it and cannot assess the claims when it never possess the products.”

https://arstechnica.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ebay.blazer.opinion.pdf

For more information contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

More information

Epson are alleging that certain compatible ink cartridges infringe their patents GB2433473 and amendment GB2465293. The alleged infringement concerns the alignment of chip contacts on their cartridges. So far, we know Epson have issued takedowns against compatible cartridges T16 XL; T18 XL; T24 XL; T26 XL; T27 XL; T29 XL; T33 XL plus T0715 XL; T0797 XL; T0807 XL.

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2017/epson-delete-ebay-listings-citing-patent-claims

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ORG responds to Amber Rudd’s calls to criminalise viewing of extremist content

Jim Killock reacted to Amber Rudd’s calls to criminalise viewing of extremist content.

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

“This is incredibly dangerous. Journalists, anti-terror campaigns and others may need to view extremist content, regularly and frequently.

“People tempted towards extremism may fear discussing what they have read or seen with anyone in authority. Even potential informants may be dissuaded from coming forward because they are already criminalised.”

On encryption, he said:

“Amber Rudd needs to be realistic and clear about what she wants. It is no better saying she wishes to deny criminals the use of encryption than to say she wishes to deny them access to gravity. And if she succeeds in pushing them off major platforms, terrorists may end up being harder to detect.”

For more information, contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

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Comment on Vulnerable Person's Database from Scotland Director Matthew Rice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Scotland Director, Matthew Rice said:

“Police Scotland’s attempt to fix a problem has created another headache. Without informing or seeking people’s consent they have created a database of over 400,000 individuals that they have labelled as vulnerable, nearly 1 in 10 people. Once on there, there is no way of getting off. This is a sorry state of affairs.”

“There is no accusation of malice here, but you don’t need to be malicious to undermine people’s right to privacy. Police Scotland have gone about removing the autonomy and dignity of those on this database while trying to support them.”

“The Information Commissioner has notified them that the Vulnerable Persons Database is in breach of the Data Protection Act by not having any retention or deletion policy. But fixing that policy gap will not respond to the wider problem of people being unaware they are on this database in the first place.”

“If Police Scotland were serious about making this database fit for purpose, they would give people who find themselves on it the opportunity to request removal. To do that, they first need to notify the 400,000 plus people that they are on the Vulnerable Person’s Database and seek their consent for them to remain on it. There may be circumstances in which people should remain on this database, that genuinely meet the threshold of a vulnerable person, the police should make that assessment after receiving the replies.”

“But first, Police Scotland need to start communicating to those on the database. At this stage, this is the least they can do to begin to give back some of the agency they have taken from members of the public.”

Notes to Editors

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The BBC exclusively revealed that 400,000 people had been placed on the Vulnerable Person’s Database.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-41335762

The Information Commissioner said the database breached the Data Protection Act because it lacked an information removal policy.

Many people were not told that they had been put on the system.

The system involves collating disparate pieces of information about a particular vulnerable individual into a single file- allowing officers to build a narrative about that person.

At a supervisor’s discretion, the file can be shared with other government bodies - for example, health, social work or education - so that the person receives support.

There is no equivalent database in England and Wales.

 

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Org response to conviction of Cage Director for terror offences

ORG has responded to the conviction of Cage Director Muhammad Rabbani, who was found guilty of terror offences for refusing to hand over passwords to the police at Heathrow airport.

Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

“These powers are blanket and do not require suspicion. They have been employed against journalists and others to compel them to provide information which could breach professional privilege and confidentiality.

“If Muhammad Rabbani is suspected of a crime, there are separate routes under RIPA which can be employed, which at least require a genuine reason to be specified before they are investigated.”

Rabbani was found guilty under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.

For more information, contact press@openrightsgroup.org

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ORG response to calls for automated takedowns of online extremist content

ORG has issued a response to the Government’s call for Internet companies to do more to automatically detect and remove extremist content online.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

“Internet companies have a role to play in removing illegal content from their platforms but we need to recognise the limitations of relying on automated takedowns. Mistakes will inevitably be made – by removing the wrong content and by missing extremist material.

“Given the global reach of these companies, automated takedowns will have a wide-reaching effect on the content we see, although not necessarily on the spread of extremist ideas as terrorists will switch to using other platforms.”

“There needs to be transparency about where takedown requests come from and what is being taken down automatically; there also need to be clear routes for appeal when mistakes are made.”

“There are also wider implications. This move by the British, French and Italian Governments could also be used to justify the actions of authoritarian regimes, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who want companies to remove content that they find disagreeable.”

For more information, email press@openrightsgroup.org

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Data Protection Bill must give privacy groups right to lodge complaints

Open Rights Group has responded to the publication of the Data Protection Bill, which put the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation into UK law.

ORG welcomes the Bill, which will improve our ability to control how data is collected and used. However, the Government has failed to enact all of the options outlined in the GDPR.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

“The UK has neglected an important option in the General Data Protection Regulation, which gives consumer privacy groups like Open Rights Group the ability to lodge independent data protection complaints.

"It is almost impossible for the average person to know how their data is being collected, shared and sold by social media platforms, advertisers and other businesses. We may not know which companies hold data about us. Privacy groups can therefore play an important role in protecting consumers by taking independent action against companies that fail to protect our data protection rights.”

“Open Rights Group wants to be able to campaign on behalf of people who are afraid of complaining or do not realised that they have been affected.”

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ORG response to CPS announcement on social media hate crime

ORG has responded to the announcement by the CPS that they will treat online hate crime as seriously as offline offences.

Legal Director, Myles Jackman said:

“It is quite right that people who hide behind social media to commit hate crime should be held accountable for their actions by the criminal justice system and clearly, internet companies should not be left to ‘police’ online speech.

However, some offences employ highly subjective terms like “grossly offensive” and “obscene” which could have a severe chilling effect on the more unpalatable but legitimate areas of free speech, if interpreted strictly.

Finally, Alison Saunders’ avowed intent to crack down on hate crime on social media may be significantly hampered by Kier Starmer’s High Evidential Threshold Test which was specifically designed to reduce the number of cases that actually reached Court”.

For more information, contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

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Data Protection Bill to be welcomed but still needs work

ORG responds to the Government's statement of intent on a Data Protection Bill

Javier Ruiz – policy director at digital rights campaign organisation Open Rights Group – said,

“We welcome the Government’s intention to bring European data protection laws into UK law. It will strengthen everyone’s ability to control what data can be collected about them and how it can be used.

These laws could be fundamentally altered after Brexit. The Government must explain how these data protection rights will be guaranteed after the UK has left the EU.

We are disappointed that UK Ministers are not taking up the option in EU law to allow consumer privacy groups to lodge independent data protection complaints as they can currently do under consumer rights laws.

Citizens face increasingly complex data ecosystems. It is almost impossible for average person to be able to know which organisations hold their personal data. Enabling privacy groups to take independent action will ensure consumers’ rights are properly enforced.”

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Real people care about security

Open Rights Group responds to Amber Rudd's comments on encryption today

Responding to Amber Rudd’s comments today suggesting that “real people” don’t expect security in their communications, Jim Killock – executive director of UK digital rights campaign Open Rights Group – said:

"The suggestion that real people do not care about the security of their communications is dangerous and misleading. Some people want privacy from corporations, abusive partners or employers. Others may be worried about confidential information, or be working in countries with a record of human rights abuses. It is not the Home Secretary’s place to tell the public that they do not need end-to-end encryption.

Amber Rudd must be absolutely clear on what co-operation she expects from Internet companies. She is causing immense confusion because at the moment she sounds like she is asking for the impossible. She must give the public a good idea of the risks she wants to place them under.

If WhatsApp turn off or compromise encryption, you can expect criminals to use something else. The people who will suffer are law-abiding citizens who want privacy and security."

For more information, contact press@openrightsgroup.org

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Brexit trade agreements “fragile” after CJEU opinion on Passenger Name Record data

The Court of Justice of the European Union has issued an Opinion that an agreement over the transfer of Passenger Name Record data between Canada and the EU, “may not be concluded in its current form because several of its provisions are incompatible with the fundamental rights recognised by the EU”.

Any future agreement between the EU and UK would similarly be open to challenge if the UK’s laws do not uphold the privacy of EU citizens. The Opinion reinforces arguments that privacy and data protection rights in the UK could be put under intense scrutiny, if the agreement covers transfers of personal data, which are fundamental for most communications and commerce.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock responded:
“This decision has massive implications for Brexit. The EU courts have rejected an agreement that failed to protect fundamental rights, including the rights to privacy and protection of personal data.

“Any future trade agreement between the UK and EU would be subject to the same stringent requirements. Given the UK’s mass surveillance laws and indiscriminate data retention, any trade agreement for digital, communications and even banking and insurance businesses, could look very fragile indeed.”

Current UK arrangements to collect and use PNR data are also likely to need improved safeguards, along the lines the court requires for the EU-Canada agreement.

Notes to Editors
The CJEU have explained their decision in a press release which notes:

“the Court considers that the agreement should:
• determine in a more clear and precise manner certain of the PNR data to be transferred;

• provide that the models and criteria used for the automated processing of PNR data will be specific, reliable and non-discriminatory;

• provide that the databases used will be limited to those used by Canada in relation to the fight against terrorism and serious transnational crime;

• provide that PNR data may be disclosed by the Canadian authorities to the government authorities of a non-EU country only if there is an agreement between the European Union and that country equivalent to the envisaged agreement or a decision of the European Commission in that field;

• provide for a right to individual notification for air passengers in the event of use of PNR data concerning them during their stay in Canada and after their departure from that country, and in the event of disclosure of that data to other authorities or to individuals;

• guarantee that the oversight of the rules relating to the protection of air passengers with regard to the processing of their PNR data is carried out by an independent supervisory authority.

“Since the interferences which the envisaged agreement entails are not all limited to what is strictly necessary and are therefore not entirely justified, the Court concludes that the envisaged agreement may not be concluded in its current form.”

Open Rights Group is a member of European Digital Rights (EDRi), which have also issued a statement.

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