Carefree summer holidays quickly gave way to a flood of major events in Europe with big implications for UK digital rights.
European Court of Human Rights denounces UK surveillance
On September 13 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the UK’s bulk interception programmes breached the European Convention on Human Rights. The case was started in 2013 by Open Rights Group and partners Big Brother Watch, English PEN and computer scientist Dr. Constanze Kurz following Edward Snowden’s revelation of GCHQ mass spying. Though a victory, the decision stopped short of declaring bulk interception illegal, instead faulting poor oversight.
Setback in Strasbourg
On 12 September the rollercoaster saga of the EU Copyright Directive took a serious dive. MEPs at the European Parliament approved Article 13, which would turn major Internet platforms like Facebook into copyright police. Contrary to benefiting creators, Article 13’s ability to redirect significant revenue to artists is questionable. If the law survives a final vote in February, expect a new era where free expression online is constantly tripped up by hamfisted algorithms.
Scotland’s biometrics moment
Scotland’s Government is proposing to create a new commissioner to oversee the rapidly evolving field of biometrics. No longer relegated to fingerprints and DNA, advances in biometrics like facial recognition technology are profoundly transforming the value of digital records like CCTV footage. Open Rights Group is working to ensure any new Commissioner has the tools and remit necessary for proper oversight. Scottish residents have until Monday to make their voices heard.
Calling all developers & designers
ORG is organising a hackday on Saturday 13 October in London. We’re looking for developers and designers to work with Data Rights Finder’s dataset and API to imagine and develop creative ways that a new tool could be used to help people with challenges around data use and protection. If you would like more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spotlight on Digital Rights Management (DRM)
As part of the International Day Against DRM, Open Rights Group published a new report examining how DRM technologies stifle innovation and competition. The report also measures DRM’s impact on users’ security, privacy and right of access, and details the related phenomena of obsolescence and vendor lock-in. Unfamiliar with DRM? Have a look.
Holding FB to account
Were you one of the 87 million Facebook users that had their personal data shared without consent via Cambridge Analytica? Check your Facebook account here to see if you have been affected. You may be able to join a case against Facebook by contacting Ravi Naik of ITN Solicitors who is handling the first group claim on this matter. He is also the lead solicitor who brought the first claim against Cambridge Analytica.
Journalism in danger
Debate for the new Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill is scheduled for 9 October in the House of Lords. The Bill threatens reporters by criminalising the viewing of extremist content online, regardless of viewer intent. The sweeping law has attracted little publicity so far.
EU terrorism regulation
The European Commission has proposed a new regulation for fighting terrorist content online. This regulation explicitly encourages the use of Article 13-style upload filters, raising familiar threats to free expression online.
ORG AROUND THE UK
Thursday 27 Sept
133-135 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 7DG
Our monthly Cryptonoise event is a chance to discuss current digital rights issues and learn about cryptographic tools. Laptops encouraged!
Thursday 27 Sept
Lower Levels, 26 North Silver Street
All are welcome to our casual monthly meetup. Learn about ORG’s campaigns and how to engage the Cambridge community.
Tuesday 2 October
The Castle Inn
38 Castle Street
Cambridge CB3 0AJ