Reinforcing Monopoly

Hereby are two stories about how software acts as a barrier to entry to a market and reinforces the monopoly power of its provider.

The first is shown by the fact that industrial content are getting cold feet over the EU copyright directive as the service providers have switched to supporting Article 13 since they already have the so-called “upload filters”. Only the big boys will be able to remain in the game of hosting user authored content. As predicted, the new regulations will inhibit both startups and SMEs.

The second story is closer to home. The UK have decided to mandate age verification functionality for porn sites. Who do you think is going to build that? Alec Muffet and the Open Rights Group have been tracking this and even if you think it’s a good idea, they way it’s being done is disastrous. The BBFC is the regulator and this is a massive piece of scope creep, it looks like they will licence a third party to act as the software provider and again the favourites to win this business is an interested party. Alec’s latest blog post is on Medium and is critical of the regulator’s stance and IT Security expertise and he previously wrote about the competitive dynamics and opportunities created by the new laws. Muffet is also concerned about the profiling use of such a database of porn users. It’s almost back to the days of the Roman Empire where monopolies were licensed. …

Mass Action or Court Action

I have today posted a limited review of Orgcon17 which happened last year. One of the most provocative presentations was this one, “Is the law the best way to stop mass surveillance?” While it documents the heroic struggle by a small group of fiercely motivated lawyers, it’s incredibly slow at the time, the court cases considered in 2017 related to 2015 laws and by the time the rulings came through the law in question had been replaced, but while pursuing legal action, mass action is hard, although crowdjustice.com and other petition sites allow the building of an on-line communities.

The presentation made me think about the numerous, trade union legal actions on collective bargaining issues, most notably their pursuit and criminalisation of Uber. In these cases, the use of the law is a sign of weakness, albeit of both sides, but demos and voting aren’t enough to change politicians minds on issues they consider peripheral. …

At Orgcon 17

I am just back from orgcon17, and here are my notes; this was a two day conference, with many sessions on issues of concern to digital liberty campaigners on regulation of the use personal data. It took place over two days, consisting of lectures & panels and workshops. On the first day, at Friends House, where we had the use of the amazing central meeting room it looked at the coming legislation on investigatory powers, the use of the law to make political advances (it’s slow & uncertain), an interview with Caroline Criada Perez, the campaigner who got the first woman on British bank notes and a women’s statue in Parliament Sq.. It looked at e-voting systems in Taiwan where the government used a consensus building software product to engage the population in traffic management solutions design. Jamie Bartlett spoke about privacy vs. security. There was a session on Digital Liberty & regulation in Nigeria. There was also a session on the privacy vulnerability to the coming “age verification for porn users” regulations. Much of these lectures are available on the ORG’s Video channel.

The second day consisted mainly of workshops focused on campaigning. There was a workshop that reviewed the technical architecture of the investigatory powers bill (as they then were i.e. the architecture and legislative stage). There was a workshop in using the Freedom of Information Laws to enhance campaigning, and also about the likely campaigning tools to be offered by the coming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) i.e. enhanced subject access requests, the right to be forgotten, of remediation and to object and stop processing.

There were sessions on building local Open Rights Group groups, how to perform IT security effectively for campaigners and a review of the ORG’s Blocked tool.

I chaired a session on building a Charter of Digital Rights, with Richard Barbrook and Mara Leverkuhn. Richard announced his initiative to put some more detail behind the Jeremy Corbyn’s Digital Manifesto which they created to support his 2016 Leadership Campaign. I documented/advertised this session on my blog http://davelevy.info/digital-liberties/

ooOOOoo

The relevance of this conference to CISSP certification is in the Regulation & Compliance domain. One of the critical to IT organisations is failing to keep up with laws and regulations. The ORG focuses on the law as it relates to privacy, censorship & intellectual property. Businesses need to keep these laws in mind when designing their risk taxonomy and control catalogue.

This was written in Oct 2018, nearly 12 months after the event; I did it to claim CISSP CPD Credits. I have as normal, for me, in these circumstances backdated the article to the time of occurrence. …

No safe space

No safe space

I made a storify after the election, and its terrorist disruption about the, mainly Tory response in blaming the internet. I don’t make the point that the Northern Ireland “troubles” were pre-internet but I do talk about the Tories, and May’s instinctive response is to censor and silence dissidents. I also point to Amnesty International’s critical report on the UK’s surveillance laws. I transferred this to the blog, as at the original date of publication, once Storify announced they were abandoning their service.

 …

Policy

I wrote a piece on my essay blog, now here trying to resurrect my thoughts on the #digitalliberty agenda just before the election. The thoughts were formed and committed to writing in 2014 and I said in the article that I thought they’d stood the test of time.

On second thoughts I think it’s weak on

  1. the right to privacy being a right to use encryption
  2. a failure to recognise that access to records created for fighting serious crime may have unacceptably low thresholds of access i.e. no-one is checking that the use is about serious crime
  3. justice must be public and require human judgement; algorithms can’t be judges (although it does cover that!)

Third thoughts would be that the Digital Economy Act 2016 widens the definition of criminal file sharing beyond reasonable and proportionate. …

Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

I have had a look  at the manifestos and see what they have to say on the internet and Digital Liberty. I have been very influenced by the EDRi voting exchange and summarise the issues of Digital Liberty as e-citizenship, equality before the law, privacy and copyright reform, to which for this election we must add internet governance and industrial & innovation policy. I have created a table summarising the positions of the Tories, Labour, LibDems and Greens. Possibly I should have analysed the SNP manifesto since much of this is Westmister reserved powers. I was hoping to write something easy and quick to read. I don’t think I have succeeded. My super summary is in the figure immediately below, and here is the table I built to help me write this article. (I lost the excel file, so this will have to do!)  My main source was the ORG pages but I have been reading the Labour Manifesto also. I feel that the opposition parties have suffered from the surprise; they probably expected more time to develop their promises. All three opposition parties 2015 manifestos covered these issues in more depth.  …

Digital Liberty, a baseline

Digital Liberty, a baseline

I am preparing to write a blog on Digital Liberty and the Parties’ manifesto positions. I was looking to see how I categorised the issues so I could create a summary view and I found the motion that was the basis for my previous submission on policy. This text has been recovered from a Labour Party motion carried at the Lewisham Deptford GC at their April ’14 meeting. I used it as the basis for a submission to the LP’s New Britain site which they have, of course shit canned; it was their policy development site. I think the motion stands the test of time.  …

The Digital Economy Act (again)

The Digital Economy Act (again)

The Digital Economy Act 2010 showed the long term goal of the entertainment industry, they want to criminalise file sharing. At the time, individual acts of copyright infringement were civil acts and the copyright owners had to pursue them through the courts, one at a time. This is expensive, slow, uncertain and most importantly expensive, compared with the cover price of a CD or DVD. The DE Act did that, it also sought to automate the justice system and in order to do that it weakened innocent until proven guilty, by prescribing defences and also placed a charge on going to court to argue not guilty. It really was a shit piece of legislation. However, the Law stated that the costs of surveillance and discovery had to be shared by the copyright owners and the internet service providers. The Courts struck down this part of the Law, (see here … for more)  …