We've been working on a little bit of everything this month, from Government surveillance and e-voting, to data protection and patent law!
Government Surveillance Ruled Illegal
Just yesterday the Court of Appeal handed down their judgement in a case we have been working on for the past 4 years. It’s official, to the shock of absolutely no-one, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) was illegal.
DRIPA may no longer be in force, but much of it was incorporated into the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), which must now be amended to reflect the court’s opinion. The Government already knows this, this is why they opened their consultation on the IPA earlier this month, but the proposals they announced did not go far enough, and created some new problems in and of itself.
The Court of Appeal judgement is not a panacea, the Court completely swerved some of the most important aspects of the IPA. They said, for example, mass data retention and notification were for other people to deal with.
But a victory is a victory. DRIPA was illegal and now the government has work to do. You can find the full judgement here and for more information about ORG’s position head here.
We want to expand our legal department to make sure we can keep winning in cases like these. In 2018, join ORG and help us to keep taking the Government to court.
E-voting in Scotland and Wales is a Bad Idea
E-voting fails to meet the basic standard for a democratic election: that it be free, safe, and secure. But in Scotland and Wales it's back and as dubious as ever. We’ve seen a lot of different e-voting systems but, as yet, we haven’t seen any that can solve it's fundamental problems. An election must be both anonymous and easily verifiable, but e-voting machines are opaque. Scotland and Wales should not go ahead with trialling online voting. Turnout goes up when voting make a difference. Trying to fix participation with technology is a dangerous distraction from the fundamental issue, that elections need to be meaningful to voters if engagement is to improve.
Find out more about ORG’s history with and position on e-voting here.
Epson - Stop Killing Compatibles
Have you ever heard the often quoted fact that printer ink is more expensive per drop than champagne? Unsurprisingly Epson want to keep it that way, and eBay are helping them do it. eBay has a programme called the ‘Verified Rights Owner’ programme - this allows Epson, and other big companies, to lodge a complaint of patent infringement that leads to other sellers being taken down with no evidence and no chance to defend themselves. This sets a highly dangerous precedent - find out more and sign our petition here.
Immigration Exemption Not Yet Dead
This month the Data Protection Bill made it through the House of Lords and despite significant lobbying from us and many other human rights organisations, the immigration exemption remains part of the draft bill.
The government have softened it slightly - allowing people to retain their rights to portability and rectification when it comes to their immigration data. Both of these ‘concessions’ do nothing to change the fundamental force of the exemption, which would prevent people from being able to challenge Home Office errors, which are worryingly commonplace in immigration cases.
The Bill will be back in Parliament at the end of February - and so will we, telling the Government this exemption must be removed.
Quick Fire News
NHS Digital released guidance approving off-shoring patient data, read all about the move and our concerns here.
Theresa May says ‘technology companies employ some of the brightest minds in the world’. We don’t think that means they should be doing the job of censors - tell the Government what you think bysigning our petition.
The official text of the Digital Charter has been released - read all two pages of it here.
ORG: Out and About
ORG Glasgow monthly meet-up
Join ORG Glasgow and Matthew Rice, ORG's Scotland Director, to discuss future plans for ORG in Scotland and how you can get involved!
6:30 - 8pm
Electron Club, Centre for Contemporary Arts, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
ORG Cambridge Monthly meet-up
Join ORG Cambridge to discuss the current state of digital rights, and their plans for the upcoming months!
7pm - 8:30pm
The Castle Inn, 38 Castle Street, Cambridge, CB3 0AJ
Take Control of Your Online Life
A Newcastle Libraries and Open Rights Group North East event to help you get the digital security and privacy skills you need to make the most of the Internet and your mobile phone. March 10th
12:30pm to 3:30pm
Newcastle City Library, Charles Avison Building 33 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle, NE1 8AX