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  Threats to privacy and free speech...

Open Rights Group comment on the Queen's Speech


Link Here 23rd June 2017

open rights group 2016 logo There are references to a review of Counter-terrorism and a Commision for Countering Extremism which will include Internet-related policies. Although details are lacking, these may contain threats to privacy and free speech. The government has opted for a "Digital Charter", which isn't a Bill, but something else.

Digital Charter

This isn't a Bill, but some kind of policy intervention. Perhaps the Digital Charter will be for companies to voluntarily agree to, or a statement of government preferences. It addresses both unwanted and illegal content or activity online, and the protection of vulnerable people. The work of CTIRU and the IWF are mentioned as examples of work to remove illegal or extremist content.

At this point, it is hard to know exactly what harms will emerge, but pushing enforcement into the hands of private companies is problematic. It means that decisions never involve courts and are not fully transparent and legally accountable.

Counterterrorism review

There will be a review of counterterrorism powers . The review includes "working with online companies to reduce and restrict the availability of extremist material online".

This appears to be a watered down version of the Conservative manifesto commitment to give greater responsibility for companies to take down extremist material from their platforms. Already Google and Facebook have issued public statements about how they intend to improve the removal of extremist material from their platforms.

Commission for Countering Extremism

A Commission will look at the topic of countering extremism, likely including on the Internet.

This appears to be a measure to generate ideas and thinking, which could be a positive approach, if it involves considering different approaches, rather than pressing ahead with policies in order to be seen to be doing something. The quality of the Commission will therefore depend on their ability to take a wide range of evidence and assimilate it impartially; it faces a significant challenge in ensuring that fundamental rights are respected within any policy suggestions they suggest.

Data Protection Bill

A new Data Protection Bill , "will fulfil a manifesto commitment to ensure the UK has a data protection regime that is fit for the 21st century". This will replace the Data Protection Act 1998, which is in any case being removed as the result of the new General Data Protection Regulation passed by the European Parliament last year. Regulations apply directly, so the GDPR does not need to be 'implemented' in UK law before Brexit.

We welcome that (at least parts of) the GDPR will be implemented in primary legislation with a full debate in Parliament. It is not clear if the text of the GDPR will be brought into this Bill, or whether it supplements it.

This appears to be a bill to at least implement some of the 'derogations' (options) in the GDPR, plus the new rules for law enforcement agencies, that came in with the new law enforcement-related Directive and have to be applied by EU member states.

The bulk of the important rights are in the GDPR, and cannot be tampered with before Brexit. We welcome the chance to debate the choices, and especially to press for the right of privacy groups to bring complaints directly.

 

 Update: The Dementia Party...

Theresa May hints that she will continue her policies to make the internet less secure from hackers, phishers and thieves


Link Here 15th June 2017  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
open rights group 2016 logo Open Rights Group has responded to Theresa May's post-election hints that she will continue with Conservative plans for Internet clampdowns.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

To push on with these extreme proposals for Internet clampdowns would appear to be a distraction from the current political situation and from effective measures against terror.

The Government already has extensive surveillance powers. Conservative proposals for automated censorship of the Internet would see decisions about what British citizens can see online being placed in the hands of computer algorithms, with judgments ultimately made by private companies rather than courts. Home Office plans to force companies to weaken the security of their communications products could put all of us at a greater risk of crime.

Both of these proposals could result in terrorists and extremists switching to platforms and services that are more difficult for our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor.

Given that the priority for all MPs is how the UK will negotiate Brexit, it will be especially hard to give the time and thought necessary to scrutinise these proposals.

It could be tempting to push ahead in order to restore some of Theresa May's image as a tough leader. This should be resisted. With such a fragile majority, greater consensus will be needed to pass new laws.

We hope that this will mean our parliamentarians will reject reactionary policy-making and look for long-term, effective solutions that directly address the complex causes of terrorism.

 

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