UK Government Watch

 2017: Oct-Dec

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  Fuming...

French Senator calls on move makers to drop the iconic cigarette smoking


Link Here 21st November 2017
Coco Avant Chanel - DVD Many stylish and iconic French films have featured smoking, Jean-Paul Belmondo in A? Bout du Souffle Audrey Tautou in Coco Chanel , Jacques Tati was rarely without his pipe and Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve , Geard Depardieu and Alain Delon all puffed their way through decades of movies.

Hardly surprising then that a call for French directors to stub out smoking on screen has been greeted with a mix of disbelief and outright ridicule.

The debate was ignited after the Socialist senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais accused France's film-makers of continuing to advertise for the tobacco industry. Her remarks, made during a debate on the government's plan to raise the price of cigarettes and tobacco, sparked the interest of the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, who said she would talk to her cabinet colleague, the culture minister, Françoise Nyssen. Buzyn promised firm action saying:

I don't understand why the cigarette is so important in French cinema.

 

  Fake accusations...

More failing politicians clutch at straws blaming their unpopularity on 'fake news' rather than their own failures


Link Here 14th November 2017
Theresa MayTheresa May has made a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet saying that fake news and Russian propaganda are threatening the international order. She said:

It is seeking to weaponise information. Deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the west and undermine our institutions.

The UK did not want to return to the Cold War, or to be in a state of perpetual confrontation but the UK would have to act to protect the interests of the UK, Europe and rest of the world if Russia continues on its current path.

May did not say whether she was concerned with Russian intervention in any UK democratic processes, but Ben Bradshaw, a leading Labour MP, is among those to have called for a judge-led inquiry into the possibility that Moscow tried to influence the result of the Brexit referendum.

Russia has been accused of running troll factories that disseminate fake news and divisive posts on social media. It emerged on Monday that a Russian bot account was one of those that shared a viral image that claimed a Muslim woman ignored victims of the Westminster terror attack as she walked across the bridge.

Surely declining wealth and poor economic prospects are a more likely root cause of public discontent rather than a little trivial propaganda.

 

  Artificial intelligence expectations...

Amber Rudd calls for the AI blocking of terrorist content before it is posted


Link Here 11th November 2017  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim
amber ruddHome Secretary Amber Rudd told an audience at New America, a Washington think tank, on Thursday night that there was an online arms race between militants and the forces of law and order.

She said that social media companies should press ahead with development and deployment of AI systems that could spot militant content before it is posted on the internet and block it from being disseminated.

Since the beginning of 2017, violent militant operatives have created 40,000 new internet destinations, Rudd said. As of 12 months ago, social media companies were taking down about half of the violent militant material from their sites within two hours of its discovery, and lately that proportion has increased to two thirds, she said.

YouTube is now taking down 83% of violent militant videos it discovers, Rudd said, adding that UK authorities have evidence that the Islamic State was now struggling to get some of its materials online.

She added that in the wake of an increasing number of vehicle attacks by islamic terrorists British security authorities were reviewing rental car regulations and considering ways for authorities to collect more relevant data from car hire companies.

 

  Snooping rights...

UK human rights organisations challenge the UK mass snooping regime at the European Court of Human Rights


Link Here 8th November 2017

European court buildingsOn Tuesday 7 November, three joined cases brought by civil liberties and human rights organisations challenging UK Government surveillance will be heard in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Big Brother Watch and Others v UK will be heard alongside 10 Human Rights Organisations and Others v UK and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Alice Ross v UK, four years after the initial application to the ECtHR.

Big Brother Watch, English PEN, Open Rights Group and Dr Constanze Kurz made their application to the Court in 2013 following Edward Snowden's revelations that UK intelligence agencies were running a mass surveillance and bulk communications interception programme, TEMPORA, as well as receiving data from similar US programmes, PRISM and UPSTREAM, interfering with UK citizens' right to privacy.

The case questions the legality of the indiscriminate surveillance of UK citizens and the bulk collection of their personal information and communications by UK intelligence agencies under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The UK surveillance regime under RIPA was untargeted, meaning that UK citizens' personal communications and information was collected at random without any element of suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing, and this regime was effective indefinitely.

The surveillance regime is being challenged on the grounds that there was no sufficient legal basis, no accountability, and no adequate oversight of these programmes, and as a result infringed UK citizens' Article 8 right to a private life.

In 2014, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism made an application to the ECtHR, followed by 10 Human Rights Organisations and others in 2015 after they received a judgment from the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal. All three cases were joined together, and the Court exceptionally decided that there would be a hearing.

The result of these three cases has the potential to impact the current UK surveillance regime under the Investigatory Powers Act. This legal framework has already been strongly criticized by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Watson . A favourable judgment in this case will finally push the UK Government to constrain these wide-ranging surveillance powers, implement greater judicial control and introduce greater protection such as notifying citizens that they have been put under surveillance.

Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, solicitor for Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, English PEN and Constanze Kurz, said:

Historically, it has required a ruling from this Court before improvements in domestic law in this area are made. Edward Snowden broke that cycle by setting in motion last year's Investigatory Power Act, but my clients are asking the Court to limit bulk interception powers in a much more meaningful way and to require significant improvements in how such intrusive powers are controlled and reported.

Griff Ferris, Researcher at Big Brother Watch, said:

This case raises long-standing issues relating to the UK Government's unwarranted intrusion into people's private lives, giving the intelligence agencies free reign to indiscriminately intercept and monitor people's private communications without evidence or suspicion.

UK citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing should be able to live their lives in both the physical and the digital world safely and securely without such Government intrusion.

If the Court finds that the UK Government infringed UK citizens' right to privacy, this should put further pressure on the Government to implement measures to ensure that its current surveillance regime doesn't make the same mistakes.

Antonia Byatt, Interim Director of English PEN, said:

More than four years since Edward Snowden's revelations and nearly one year since the Investigatory Powers Act was passed, this is a landmark hearing that seeks to safeguard our privacy and our right to freedom of expression.

The UK now has the most repressive surveillance legislation of any western democracy, this is a vital opportunity to challenge the unprecedented erosion of our private lives and liberty to communicate.

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

Mass surveillance must end. Our democratic values are threatened by the fact of pervasive, constant state surveillance. This case gives the court the opportunity to rein it back, and to show the British Government that there are clear limits. Hoovering everything up and failing to explain what you are doing is not acceptable.

 

 Offsite Article: Demos think tank doesn't buy the idea that terrorists are radicalised by internet content...


Link Here 8th November 2017  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim
injustice the guardian The truth is that a lot of the material that terrorists share is not actually illegal at all. Instead, it was often comprised of news reports about perceived injustices in Palestine, stuff that you could never censor in a free society.

See article from news.sky.com

 

 Offsite Article: Perhaps 15 years is a little extreme just for viewing terrorist websites...


Link Here 25th October 2017
amber rudd Terrorism couldn't possibly be anything to do with religion so it must be 'the internet'

See article from theguardian.com

 

  Censorship in the name of safety...

The government plans to extend its internet child safety think tank to include adults


Link Here 22nd October 2017
UKCCIS logoWhilst speaking about the Government's recently published Internet Safety Strategy green paper, Suzie Hargreaves of the Internet Watch Foundation noted upcoming changes to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). This is a government run body that includes many members from industry and child protection campaigners. It debates many internet issues about the protection of children which routinely touches on internet control and censorship. Hargreaves noted that the UKCCIS looks set to expand its remit. She writes:

The Government recognises the work of UKCCIS and wants to align it more closely with the Internet Safety Strategy. Renaming it the UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS), the Government is proposing broadening the council's remit to adults, having a smaller and higher-profile executive board, reconsidering the role of the working groups to ensure that there is flexibility to respond to new issues, looking into an independent panel or working group to discuss the social media levy, and reviewing available online safety resources.

 

 Updated: If only people could be force fed with official propaganda news, all would be right with the world...

Karen Bradley proposes that social media companies should pay a new tax to fund a new propaganda education unit to warn of the dangers of non government approved internet content


Link Here 12th October 2017
karen bradleySocial media companies look set to be hit with a new tax to pay for schemes to raise people's awareness of the dangers of the internet and to tackle what the government considers their worst effects.

Web firms will have a chance to give their views on the levy being proposed by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley in a public consultation.

Among the options proposed in Bradley's internet safety green paper is an industry-wide levy so social media companies and service providers fund schemes that raise awareness and counter internet harms.

The Independent understands that the Government is interested to see what action the private sector takes first -- with a voluntary funded approach possible -- before imposing any new levy on firms.

Offsite Analysis: For the forthcoming 'Digital Charter'

12th October 2017 See  article from ispreview.co.uk

Broadly speaking the new paper , which will help to form a foundation for the Government's forthcoming Digital Charter , doesn't include much that would concern internet access (broadband) providers. Instead it appears to be predominantly focused upon internet content providers (e.g. social networks like Facebook).

For a good analysis of the Government's green paper See  article from ispreview.co.uk

 

  Amber Rudd under fire for demanding more extreme internet censorship...

The trouble with politicians claiming that censorship is the answer, is that when the censorship inevitably fails to solve the problem, they can never admit fallibility, and so their only answer is to censor more


Link Here 5th October 2017
amber ruddHome secretary Amber Rudd used her keynote speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester to announce new laws, which would see anyone caught repeatedly watching extremist content on the internet to face up to 15 years jail.

At present laws prohibiting material that could be useful to terrorists only apply to hardcopy or downloaded material . They do not apply to material that is not actually in one's possession.

Security and digital rights experts have dumped on the home secretary's proposal for the new laws, calling the move incredibly dangerous. 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.

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said:

This shocking proposal would make thoughtcrime a reality in the UK. Blurring the boundary between thought and action like this undermines the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system and will criminalise journalists, academics and many other innocent people.

We have a vast number of laws to tackle terror. The Government's own reviewer of terror legislation Max Hill QC has said repeatedly that we need fewer, not more. A responsible Home Secretary would listen to the evidence -- not grandstand for cheap political points at the expense of our fundamental freedoms.

In terms of how people would be identified -- it's hard for us to say without seeing more detail about the proposals. It's likely identifying people would mean intrusive surveillance measures like those in the Investigatory Powers Act. In terms of enforceability -- it's likely to be really difficult because so many people will be caught up who have a legitimate reason and will then run that defence.

Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the security think tank RUSI, told BuzzFeed News that Rudd's proposal lacked specific detail and ran the risk of criminalising parts of some newspapers:

The risk is that [Rudd] runs into the same problems as her predecessor, Theresa May, did in 2015, when she sought to ban 'extremism', Joshi said. These are broad and nebulous terms, and they require very careful definition in order to avoid curbing legitimate free speech.

Otherwise we would risk criminalising some of the material that appears in certain mainstream newspaper columns.

Amber Rudd also decided to bang on about prohibiting encryption, even rather haplessly admitting that she did not understand who it worked.

Again campaigners were not impressed. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, noted:

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.

Lib Dem Ed Davey also weighed in:

Encryption keeps us all secure online. It allows businesses to operate and thrive securely. Any weakening of encryption will ultimately make us all less safe. For if you weaken encryption, you run the risk of letting in the bad guys

But this Conservative government can only see things in black and white -- ignoring the realities of technology. The Home Secretary's key note speech called on tech giants to work together and, with government, to take down extremist content faster than ever before. My party completely support her in that mission. The only way we will defeat this scourge is to band together -- exchange information, invest in new technologies and present a united front.

 

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