It's been a busy couple of months: we've continued to challenge the Investigatory Powers Bill; launched the Opt Me Out of Location campaign; responded to a government consultation on sharing data and challenged DRIPA at the Court of Justice of the European Union. As ever, we couldn’t have done any of it without your support.
In March, the Home Office published the revised Investigatory Powers Bill, despite three parliamentary committees making 123 recommendations for changes in the preceding weeks. The Bill still puts into statute mass surveillance and hacking, with inadequate oversight.
Right now, the Bill is being scrutinised in another parliamentary committee. ORG has been working with the Don’t Spy On Us (DSOU) coalition to brief MPs on the committee about the reality of what the Bill would mean. We expect that the House of Commons will vote on the Bill at beginning of June.
As well as lobbying, we have several public-facing activities planned for the run up to the House of Commons vote. With DSOU, we are going to launch a national advertising campaign, that has been developed pro bono by a leading ad agency. The campaign, which will launch on May 10, was possible because of generous donations from ORG and Don't Spy on Us supporters.
We are currently £7,780 short of our target, which would enable us to place ads in national newspapers and on a 30ft billboard. If you can spare any money, please help us to increase the reach of this campaign : https://www.dontspyonus.org.uk/donate
A few weeks after, ORG will launch its own campaign video. We hope that it will raise even more awareness of the threats to our privacy from surveillance – putting even more pressure on MPs in the run up to the vote.
In April, we published a report Cashing in on Your Mobile, showing how most of the largest UK mobile phone companies sell analytics services to third parties based on tracking our location, consumption, behaviour and demographics.
We also launched the campaign Opt Me Out of Location, jointly with privacy friendly startup Krowdthink, to expose how telecoms companies use our location data. Nearly 93% of UK citizens have unknowingly been opted into having their location data tracked by default by their mobile operators and public Wi-Fi providers. These companies are collecting and trading this data without properly informing their customers.
We are encouraging users to opt out of location tracking and pressure mobile operators to be clear about what data they collect and how they use it. In the next weeks, we are going to look into the responses received from the companies and see whether we can make a complaint to the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO).
Last week we submitted our response to the Government’s proposals to extend data sharing across public bodies and a few private entities. We welcome that the Government has considered several recommendation made by civil society organisations. However, there are still potential threats to citizens’ privacy.
In our response, we highlighted the need to impose stronger safeguards, more transparency and accountability to the entire process. We urged the Government to completely exclude plans to set up a database of people in debt as this could lead to targeted punitive measures and the stigmatisation of the most vulnerable. Plus, plans for this database were introduced too late in the process. This was also true for plans for bulk sharing birth, marriage and death data, which we also oppose as they strongly resemble rejected proposals for ID cards.
We want to thank all of you that used ORG’s tool to tell the Government we are concerned about these plans. We are now waiting for the conclusions drawn from the consultation process.
In April we presented our intervention against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Together with Privacy International, ORG argued that DRIPA violates citizens’ right to privacy and highlighted the overwhelming lack of safeguards against abuses. The Law Society also raised concerns about how it affects legal professional privilege. Once again, the UK government presented the argument that it “cannot know in advance what data is necessary and valuable” and thus must retain everything.
This was the first session of the CJEU on the legal challenge to DRIPA championed by Conservative MP David Davis and Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson. The Court is being asked to clarify if DRIPA – and a similar policy proposed by the Swedish government – have to adhere to the conditions set out in the 2014 CJEU ruling which stated that the then EU Data Retention Directive interfered with citizens’ rights to privacy and data protection.
The Advocate General will publish his legal non-binding opinion on the 19 July 2016 and the Judge’s ruling will follow. This case will have a tremendous impact on the IP Bill as it could insist on limits and safeguards to domestic UK proposals for retaining and accessing Internet Connection Records.
The Government has decided to go ahead and raise jail terms for file sharing to up to 10 years, ignoring the overwhelming negative response to their consultation, mostly led by ORG supporters.
We don’t yet know how the offence will be amended but the government has said they will address our concerns, which centred on the test of prejudicially affecting the copyright owner and proper safeguards protecting those who infringe copyright without intent.
ORG has called for further clarification from the Intellectual Property Office.
Changing campaign and mailing list supplier
We are moving away from Engaging Networks as our provider of campaign and communications management. Instead, we will be using More Onion for email and petition campaign management and CleverReach for our mailing lists. These services are based in Austria and Germany respectively.
Meet ORG's new staff members
In March we welcomed Myles Jackman, our new legal director. Myles will be leading ORG’s Privacy not Prism challenge at the European Court of Human Rights and our intervention in the CJEU case against DRIPA.
Our latest addition is Margarida Silva who has joined the team as Supporter Officer. She will be the contact person for supporters and ORG's local groups.
Want to save Net Neutrality?
The SavetheInternet.eu campaign is hiring a writer/campaigner for Net Neutrality.
Hacking Blocked.org.uk, May 28th, 10.30am
Join us on May 28 for a day of Blocked! project planning. It will a full day of talks and workshops covering everything from upcoming policy developments, academic and campaigning uses for the data to software development.