Press releases

Press releases


April 22, 2016 | Jim Killock

Ten year copyright jail terms

Online criminal copyright infringement jail sentences to be extended to a maximum ten years

Reacting to Baroness Neville Rolfe’s announcement that the government would proceed with ten year sentences for online copyright infringement, Jim Killock said:

"We note that the minister has committed to narrowing the scope of the offence. We need to see that it relates to genuinely commercial infringements. In particular the test of prejudicially affecting the copyright holder needs to go, and a test for actual knowledge needs to be present.

"We would welcome further discussions with her and the IPO to understand how the government seeks to ensure these new sentences are not abused to threaten people whose civil copyright misdemeanours are not deserving of custodial sentences."

Over 1000 respondents from ORG’s community submitted evidence to the consultation.

 

 

[Read more]


April 12, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

CJEU hearing could find IPBill incompatible with EU law

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will today hold an emergency hearing that could have implications for the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

The CJEU has been asked to explain its April 2014 Judgment in a case brought by Digital Rights Ireland, which ruled blanket data retention severely interfered with rights to respect for private life and the protection of personal data. The Court also declared the Data Retention Directive invalid.

Open Rights Group’s Legal Director, Myles Jackman said:

“The Court found that you shouldn’t collect people’s data unless there is a specific reason and that there should be strict controls for allowing access to this data. With both DRIPA and the IPBill, the British government has ignored this call to respect our human rights.

We look forward to the CJEU’s clarification of their ruling and hope that it rejects once and for all the blanket collection of our personal data.”

ORG intervened in the case with Privacy International. Their Legal Officer Camilla Graham Wood said:

"The UK, in enacting legislation that is almost identical to the European Data Retention Directive which the CJEU ruled unlawful, is mandating data retention on a widespread, indiscriminate and untargeted basis. Such a broad and wholesale retention of communications data is in violation of European law.”

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA)

Three months after the Digital Rights Ireland Judgment, the British government fast-tracked the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) through Parliament. This enabled the continued retention of personal communications data by Communications Service Providers in the UK.

DRIPA was challenged by the MPs David Davis and Tom Watson in a judicial review brought by Liberty with ORG and Privacy International acting as intervenors. The High Court ruled that DRIPA was inconsistent with EU law.

The ruling referred to two criteria laid down by the CJEU in the Digital Rights Ireland case:

1.   DRIPA did not provide clear and precise rules about access to and use of the retained communications data.
2.  Under DRIPA it is not a mandatory requirement for a court or an independent administrative body to authorise access to the retained data.

When the Government appealed the High Court’s decision, the Court of Appeal asked the CJEU court to explain how the DRI ruling should be applied in the UK.

Investigatory Powers Bill
The IPB would extend the data that is retained by Communication Service Providers to include Internet Connection Records, which have been broadly described as records of users’ browsing history. The CJEU previously said that data should not be retained without a specific reason.

The IPB would also continue to allow the police and government departments to authorise internally access to this data. This would fail to meet the criteria that independent courts or bodies should authorise access to data.

For more information, contact press@openrightsgroup.org

[Read more]


March 15, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

ORG urges MPs to oppose the Investigatory Powers Bill

Open Rights Group is urging MPs to oppose the Investigatory Powers Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

"MPs of any political party who value democracy must resist the Government's attempts to rush the Investigatory Powers Bill through Parliament.

"The UK's senior lawyers, its journalists and the tech industry have lambasted the Bill. Parliament's own committees have called for significant changes to its powers. But the Government is intent on forcing it into law. MPs must act before it's too late.”

ORG issued a briefing to MPs yesterday: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/ourwork/reports/investigatory-powers-bill-briefing

For more information or to arrange interviews, email: press@openrightsgroup.org

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March 14, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Renowned lawyer Myles Jackman appointed Legal Director for Open Rights Group

Myles Jackman who once described online pornography as “the canary in the coalmine of free speech” and is best known for his cutting edge practice in obscenity law and sexual freedom of expression, has been appointed as the Legal Director for Open Rights Group.

Myles was awarded the Law Society’s Junior Lawyer of the Year award in 2012 having represented Michael Peacock and Simon Walsh in their landmark obscenity prosecutions, the #ObscenityTrial and the #PornTrial. He has campaigned for reform in this area, accusing the legal system of being “twenty years behind social values and technological change” in the area of sexual freedom and privacy.

About his appointment, Myles said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as ORG’s Legal Director, since their cutting edge campaigning work for digital freedom and against surveillance chimes perfectly with my personal privacy and freedom of expression agenda.

“This is particularly timely given the passage of the current Investigatory Powers Bill with its authorisation for State-sponsored mass hacking and intrusion into individual privacy and personal freedom.”

Executive Director Jim Killock said: “I am excited to announce this legal rock star signing. I hope that Myles’ recognition outside the legal sphere will attract new supporters to ORG’s campaign for digital rights and privacy.”

Meet the Lawyer

ORG are hosting a Meet the Lawyer event on the evening of the 5th April 2016 where Myles will discuss ORG’s legal strategy for the Investigatory Powers Bill. This event will be of particular interest to legal professionals who would like to provide their know how to an active privacy campaign. To request an invitation to attend this event, please contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

Interviews

For interviews, please contact Myles on: myles@openrightsgroup.org

Notes for Editors

ORG’s legal work includes the Privacy not Prism challenge at the European Court of Human Rights brought with Big Brother Watch, English PEN and the internet campaigner Constanze Kurz. They are challenging GCHQ's surveillance practices and the current system of oversight on the grounds that they breach the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention.

ORG also submitted an intervention in the case against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) brought by Liberty, represented by David Davis MP and Tom Watson MP. The Government has appealed the High Court’s ruling that parts of DRIPA are unlawful. The case has now been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

For more information about Myles visit: www.mylesjackman.com

Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-uks-sexist-new-pornography-restrictions-arent-just-an-act-of-state-censorship-but-could-be-the-9903830.html

Guardian Long Read: http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/sep/09/one-lawyers-crusade-defend-extreme-pornography

 

 

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March 09, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy condemns Investigatory Powers Bill

The Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy has heavily criticised the Investigatory Powers Bill in his first report to the Human Rights Council.  

The report calls for "disproportionate, privacy-intrusive measures such as bulk surveillance and bulk hacking as contemplated in the Investigatory Powers Bill [to] be outlawed rather than legitimised."
 
Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group responded to the report's findings:

“The Special Rapporteur's report is yet another damning criticism of the Investigatory Powers Bill. Not only does it call for the disproportionate powers in the Bill to be 'outlawed rather than legitimised', it points out that the Bill does not comply with recent human rights rulings, which means it could be open to legal challenges.

“The report also voices another serious concern – that the impact of this extreme legislation will be felt around the world, and copied by other countries.

“The Government cannot continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that the IPB is a deeply flawed piece of legislation.”
 
For further information, email press@openrightsgroup.org

[Read more]


March 01, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Stop rushing the Investigatory Powers Bill through Parliament

Open Rights Group has responded to the publication of the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:
“The Home Office is treating the British public with contempt if it thinks it's acceptable to rush a Bill of this magnitude through Parliament. MPs and peers need sufficient time to consider the fundamental threats to our privacy and security posed by the Investigatory Powers Bill. Many have their minds elsewhere, dealing with important decisions about Europe.”

“On first reading, the revised Bill barely pays lip service to the concerns raised by the committees that scrutinised the draft Bill. If passed, it would mean that the UK has one of the most draconian surveillance laws of any democracy, with mass surveillance powers to monitor every citizen's browsing history.”

Experts call for delay
Over 100 people and organisations have signed a public letter calling for the Government to stop rushing the Bill through Parliament. The signatories include MPs, academics, lawyers, human rights activists representatives from the tech industry:

Report to MPs

The Don’t Spy on Us coalition have published a report for MPs, summarising the flaws that experts have identified.

For interviews, contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

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February 11, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

ORG responds to the Joint Committee report into Investigatory Powers Bill

The Joint Committee has published its report into the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. Throughout the report, the Committee calls on the Home Office to clarify its case for powers and the terms and definitions contained in the Bill - including more clarity around Internet Connection Records, further justification for bulk powers and an operational case for the use of Bulk Personal Datasets.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

"This is the third report that criticises the Investigatory Powers Bill, showing a troubling lack of clarity and evidence for the powers that are being demanded. Theresa May can no longer claim that this is a 'clear and comprehensible' piece of legislation.

The Home Office needs to address the recommendations of all three reports and undertake a major re-write of the Bill before it is laid before Parliament."

The Joint Committee was published two days after the Intelligence and Security Committee's report, which said that the draft Bill, "appears to have suffered from a lack of sufficient time and preparation" and called for an entirely new section dedicated to privacy protections.

 The Science and Technology Committee have also issued a report saying that the lack of clarity around the powers and their definitions could put the UK tech sector at risk.

Contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

 

 

[Read more]


February 09, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

ORG responds to the Intelligence and Security Committee report into the Investigatory Powers Bill

Open Rights Group welcomes the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

“Credit should be given to the ISC for highlighting the Investigatory Powers Bill’s failure to consistently apply privacy protections. As their report shows, the Bill lacks clarity and fails in its mission to provide a comprehensive legal framework.

“We also agree that the draft Bill ‘appears to have suffered from a lack of sufficient time and preparation’.

“There have been suggestions that a new version of the Bill will be published by the end of February.  The Home Office needs a lot longer than two weeks to redraft their bill. Theresa May must ensure that the ISC’s very serious and considered demands are dealt with in full.

“Rushing through legislation has to stop. It's time for a proper debate about whether bulk surveillance powers are acceptable in a democracy like the UK.”

ORG supports the ISC’s keys call for:

  • a new section of the Bill dedicated to overarching privacy protections
  • the removal of bulk equipment interference warrants
  • the removal of class bulk personal dataset warrants, which would allow the agencies to obtain any number of personal datasets
  • the application of the same safeguards to all communications data.

Contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

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February 01, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

ORG responds to the Science and Technology Committee's report on the Investigatory Powers Bill

The Science & Technology Committee has warned that the Investigatory Powers Bill could undermine the UK's tech sector.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

"David Cameron needs to consider whether he wants to be the Conservative PM that jeopardised the success of the UK tech industry.

"As it stands, the IPB will be bad for business, bad for citizens and bad for UK democracy.

"There are serious concerns about whether the issues raised by the Committee can be resolved in such a short timeframe. There is too much at stake for the government to rush this law through."

The Committee's report is available here.

[Read more]


November 04, 2015 | Pam Cowburn

ORG response to the draft Investigatory Powers Bill

ORG has responded to the publication of the UK's proposed new surveillance law, the draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:

 “This Bill will redefine the relationship between the state and the public for a generation. The government needs to get it right and made sure that the UK's law enforcement and security agencies can fight serious crime while upholding all of our human rights.”

“However, at first glance, it appears that this Bill is an attempt to grab even more intrusive surveillance powers and does not do enough to restrain the bulk collection of our personal data by the secret services. It proposes an increase in the blanket retention of our personal communications data, giving the police the power to access web logs. It also gives the state intrusive hacking powers that can carry risks for everyone's Internet security.”

“The Joint Committee must now listen to the concerns of activists and the public if they are to restore trust in the police and security services.”

Open Rights Group will now scrutinise the Bill in detail.

[Read more]