Balancing interests

I have been thinking about secure election systems for a while. Two events have provoked me to consider this issue today. Firstly, I was looking at building a voting system in WordPress and came across YOP Poll which does not have a secret ballot hidden from the system administrators. Secondly, the Lewisham Momentum meeting tonight it seems is going to have Momentum staff or nominees on the door.

The point of principle is that when building trustworthy systems, they must have a segregation of duties and are best observed by competing interested parties who can call foul if something wrong is happening.

In the examples above, neither the software, nor its administrators should be trusted, and in the second example, since there is no audit of their decisions neither should the door keepers who are accountable to no-one. …

Big Brother. No, not the TV show

The police are building a new super database combining records with “intelligence”. Liberty have withdrawn from the government consultation as they rightly feel that it’s a breach of our privacy rights and even the government admit that much/some of the data has no lawful purpose. (I see an ECHT case coming on.)

I have three comments to add.

The Guardian article states that the database will be held on a private cloud provider’s systems; if US owned, then the databases will be subject to US FISA warrants, so the “encrypted at rest” security solution had better be pretty good as the best in the world may be looking for it.

Secondly, government data leaks! The legal precedents in this country show that while the Government may build systems for one purpose, the courts may force disclosure to them in the resolution of private/civil disputes. The first Norwich Pharmacal warrant was issued against the HMRC as the plaintiff showed that the defendants tax records were relevant to the court. It seems that there is a public interest defence against these now, and ensuring the Government’s ability to keep it’s secrets would seem to be in the public interest but we’ll see.

Thirdly, the intelligence databases as noted probably fail the need for a lawful purpose, and fail to deliver most of the privacy rights legislated for by the GDPR, most obviously the need to ensure that personal data is accurate.

I am glad I am still a member of Liberty, and I’ll help them. …

Tory Conference Data Breach

Over the weekend, it seems to have been established that the Tory Party’s confence app suffers a major secutity flaw and that personal details of its users are available to all. While the BBC seem concerned that the ex-Foreign Secretary’s details are available, its of equal concern that all the journalists are also exposed. The maximum fine for any breach is €20m.

A further problem is that under the new laws, people who suffer a breach of rights no longer have to prove harm. This would seem to be a breach of rights and so will be treated at the serious end of the spectrum and there’s a low burden of proof.

Additionally I would add, this app It should have had a data privacy impact analysis and if deemed a high risk, permission needs to be sought from the ICO to deploy it.

The cyber-security controls should have been defined before and tested before and after the DPIA.

The Tories have 72 hours to notify the ICO of the breach and will need to consider remediation for each an every user impacted.

I am sure the ICO would not want the Tories to be their first case as they would like to have established a precedent based tariff; they wouldn’t want the governing party to be the precedent; expectations are that the ICO will be one of the more forgiving of the European data protection supervisory authorities. …

I.T. implications

In my many articles on Labour’s Democracy Review, and in a preview I talk about the Information Technology implications of Labour’s coming rule changes. I have extracted the following quote from my article, The denoument, as I’d like it to be easier to find,

In the NEC rule changes as presented to Conference the NEC talks about using IT to maximise participation. All constituency documents, are to be available to all members via a clockwork platform, sorry, I made it up, an electronic platform, “provided by the Party”; I hope that’s the national party as I have thought hard about this and creating a shared disk is not hard, managing the Access Control List (ACL) is, particularly if your membership and volatility is large.

 …

The fringe & TWT

I was a delegate this year, and so attendance at even the official fringe meetings was not easy, the conference is a very full day. The one thing I have observed is that the reality is that “The World Transformed” creates an additional paywall on attending the fringe and this year they were poor at advertising their events, although I did not buy a ticket and so may not have been as well informed as I might. I am not sure this is truly the way to go, Conference is expensive enough as it is and you’ll know from much of my writing that charging for material which can be distributed for free is both morally & economically wrong, but also restricts the power of your message.

The fact is that TWT competes with the Labour Fringe, although it might be much cheaper to organise inside TWT if you get permission.

Others have made pointed comments about their views on the relevance of some sessions to a socialist party. …

Reference back

Every reference back on the NPF report was carried although with the new majority on the NPF this may change but the key thing is that no notice is required! The platform and front bench can be taken by surprise. I see more restrictions on this being written into the new Conference Standing orders. …

Labour on Brexit ’18

And so onto the Brexit debate. Both sides wanted to ensure that there was a single motion, and the composite meeting had agreed a single set of words. This topic was supported by more organisations than any topic ever, with over 100 supporting the positions of either the People’s Vote or Another Europe is Possible. CLPD had circulated a set of words, which reinforced Labour’s commitment to the six tests, and were supported by considerably less organisations. To some extent we remainers have won the debate in the Labour Party; there were no motions to leave no matter what and the six tests mean both the customs union and single market are to be part of Labour’s deal.

So Labour will vote against any deal made by the Government; what happens then? The best result will be a General Election, but if that cannot be won, then Labour will campaign for a public vote and consider placing remain on the ballot. Here’s Kier Starmer’s speech.

 

Both John McDonnell and others have suggested that we will not consider Remain, but if neither the Tories nor Labour can negotiate a deal then we must and the composite establishes it as policy, or re-establishes it as the 2016 Conference made clear that if the Tory deal wasn’t good enough then Labour would seek a second mandate, an election, referendum or a parliamentary vote to remain. See also Labour’s New Brexit, from 2016 on this blog.

I sought to speak in this debate but wasn’t called. Some of the points I wanted to make were obvious, that a Tory brexit would be a catastrophe, that our policy was based on the six tests and that remain was an option as we would seek a second mandate. I would have argued that you can’t respect a referendum with all the cheating, illegalities and lying but one can respect the leave voters. In fact it’s this respect that leads me to ask if the deal on the table is what they want. I’d expect every Trade Unionist in the room to want to ensure that a deal satisfied those who had given the mandate. I would have made the point that Jeremy’s 7/10 score for the EU is right, that if we stay we need some reforms for the whole EU, and we would be welcome for it, and that much of what’s wrong with the EU is the outcome of policy debates and not a systemic quality of the EU. Labour’s manifesto even on Brexit is a radical promise for government that will allow is to work with our shell shocked sister parties and allies in the EU.

I wasn’t going to use the “Pointless or Catastrophe” line, it wasn’t the right debate, but I consider it a fabulous summing up of the choice between a soft brexit or hard brexit.

I have posted the six tests and the words of the motion below.

ooOOOoo

Starmer’s six tests for the Brexit deal are:

  1. Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?
  2. Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?
  3. Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities?
  4. Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?
  5. Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime?
  6. Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?

Composite 5 – Brexit

Conference welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s determined efforts to hold the Tories to account for their disastrous negotiations. Conference accepts that the public voted to leave the EU, but when people voted to ‘take back control’ they were
not voting for fewer rights, economic chaos or to risk jobs. Conference notes the warning made by Jaguar Land Rover on 11.9.18, that without the right deal in place, tens of thousands of jobs there would be put at risk.

Conference notes that workers in industries across the economy in ports, food, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, energy, chemicals, in our public services and beyond are worried about the impact of a hard Brexit on livelihoods and communities.

Conference believes we need a relationship with the EU that guarantees full participation in the Single Market. The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland and the NHS. Tory Brexit means a future of dodgy trade deals and American-style deregulation, undermining our rights, freedoms and prosperity. This binds the hands of future Labour governments, making it much harder for us to deliver on our promises.

Conference notes Labour has set six robust tests for the final Brexit deal. Conference believes Labour MPs must vote against any Tory deal failing to meet these tests in full.

Conference also believes a no-deal Brexit should be rejected as a viable option and calls upon Labour MPs to vigorously oppose any attempt by this Government to deliver a no-deal outcome. Conference notes that when trade unions have a mandate to negotiate a deal for their members, the final deal is accepted or rejected by the membership. Conference does not believe that such important negotiations should be left to government ministers who are more concerned with self-preservation and ideology than household bills and wages.

Stagnant wages, crumbling services and the housing crisis are being exacerbated by the government and employers making the rich richer at working people’s expense, and not immigration.

Conference declares solidarity and common cause with all progressive and socialist forces confronting the rising tide of neo-fascism, xenophobia, nationalism and right wing populism in Europe.

Conference resolves to reaffirm the Labour Party’s commitment to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 including no hard border in Ireland. Conference believes that there is no satisfactory technological solution that is compliant with the Good Friday Agreement and resolves to oppose any Brexit deal that would see the restoration of a border on the island of Ireland in any form for goods, services or people.

Should Parliament vote down a Tory Brexit deal or the talks end in no-deal, Conference believes this would constitute a loss of confidence in the Government. In these circumstances, the best outcome for the country is an immediate General Election that can sweep the Tories from power.

If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. If the Government is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.

This should be the first step in a Europe-wide struggle for levelling-up of living standards, rights and services and democratisation of European institutions Labour will form a radical government; taxing the rich to fund better public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment. …