Online Safety Bill progresses into the Lords

This article is repost of a the Open Rights Group newsletter. Please look at this, it's really quite short but I am quite shocked at just how far the government plans to go, prior restraint, ministerial decrees on acceptable content, encryption breaking surveillance, and more. Please use the read more button to see what the Govt is up to and how you might help in stopping the worst of its proposals.

Labour Friends of the ORG

Labour Friends of the ORG

Over lunch, I & Claude Moraes, hosted a meeting of the “Labour Friends of the Open Rights Group”. Claude spoke of the European Parliament’s response to the Snowden leaks and its defence of citizens ECHR Article 8 privacy rights. He also signposted the coming Digital Habeas Corpus which being that it’s European legislation will take some time. There was a keenness to take the policies of the ORG into the Labour Party. The countdown to the general election and the Party’s adoption of its Programme in September means that the opportunity for short term changes in the policy are limited however @LabourDigital which is a de-facto caucus is campaigning around its manifesto and the Shadow cabinet policy review is due to be launched on 25th November. We agreed to keep in touch and to use the original google group, founded after #orgcon10 to do so. …

#dontspyonus at #lab14

#dontspyonus at #lab14

Off to the International Anthony Burgess Museum for the Don’t Spy on Us fringe meeting on Privacy. The speakers were Ewan Macaskill of the Guardian, Carley Nyst of Privacy International, Claude Moraes MEP, Jim Killock of the ORG and chaired by Mike Harris of #dontspyonus. The first speaker was Ewan Macaskill who started by saying he’s glad they i.e. the spooks are there, but like me in fact, supposed that they were targeting maybe 5-15% of the population which would be say 400,000 people. What is shocking is the ambition, to spy on everyone who uses the internet. The fact they’re aiming at everyone, including lawyers and doctors is worrying to say the least. …

TTIP is forever

TTIP is forever

While the secrecy, harmonisation and the inclusion of investor state dispute resolution are bad enough aspects of TTIP, it seems this is another ‘Living Agreement’. Not only will the courts that interpret these agreements be beyond public accountability, any amendments to the treaty and agreements will be so too. I found this out at the meeting called by the Open Rights Group where Nick Dearden of the World Development Movement came to speak. …

Spying and Network Effects

Spying and Network Effects

At Don’t Spy on Us’ Day of Action, I attended the seminar/panel “Changing the Law to uphold our privacy”. Amongst the speakers were Ross Anderson, Claude Moraes and Mark Stephens. Ross Anderson works at the University of Cambridge, where he is Professor of Security Engineering. He blogs at “Light Blue Touchpaper”. To me the most memorable contribution, was from Anderson, where he shared his views developed while researching and writing his paper, “Privacy versus government surveillance: where network effects meet public choice”.  …

What do London’s MEP candidates think about digital?


Yesterday the Open Rights Group held its final European Parliament hustings at Shoreditch Village Hall in Hoxton, London. It’s been a while since I visited and it’s certainly cleaned up well. It was great to be there. On the way in, I met Claude Moraes, Labour’s spokesman who told me that the Tories non-attendance was deliberate policy. I don’t know if it’s shame at their behaviour on the lobbying around the data protection directive or fear of a digitally educated audience. The meeting was moderated by Glyn Moody, who led the meeting through the issues of privacy, surveillance, whistle blowing, net neutrality, lobbying and copyright reform. The Tories absence meant that representatives from Labour, the LibDems, both represented by incumbents Claude Moraes and Sarah Ludford,the Greens (Danny Bates) and UKIP (Paul Oakley) who were not, were present. …

Web Blocking in the UK

Web Blocking in the UK

An internet safe for kids, plebs and Tories

The phone companies’ Tory inspired “safe content” filters are coming online. While the road to and strong arming of the ISPs into voluntary agreement was well covered over the summer, although not be me, it seemed the Surveillance stories were more important, the New Statesman in an article published last week by Martin Robbins, entitled “Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan” shows the bleeding obvious that it’s not possible to build “safe” filters for other people. The article has provoked some noise on twitter since these privately implemented filters are a non-accountable overreach, there is no appeal, no democratic oversight and they are implemented using crude ineffective technology which reinforces such overreach. Taken in conjunction with the Gagging Bill, also known as the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill currently going through Parliament, this should be seen as an attack on our democratic systems in that it will deprive citizens of the information and evidence that they need to vote. …

Privacy Liberty and security: How will Labour tackle terror?


This was chaired by Jamie Bartlett of Demos, with David Blunkett and Helen Goodman with Nick Pickles of Big Brotherwatch. Jamie Bartlett, who has an interesting publication record at Demos may have been the perfect chair for the meeting.

He opened by looking at Labour’s mixed record, on the positive side introducing the Human Rights Act and on the less positive side, introducing RIPA and extending detention. RIPA is not well understood; but it defines the powers and duties in the issue of search warrants as a result most police searches are now self-authorised. He made the point that once in existence, databases suffer from scope creep and that to some extent the Communications Data Bill is an attempt to legalise actions already taken. …

The ORG in Brighton with Labour

The Open Rights Group are convening a meeting as part of the Labuour Party Conference Fringe.


Event Title: PRISM and Mass Surveillance: a Threat to Democracy and Economic Welfare?
Start Date Time: Tuesday 24th September, 2013 at 17:00
End Date Time: Tuesday 24th September, 2013 at 19:00

They say,

Mass Internet surveillance is now an undisputed fact. Its defenders tell us that it is necessary to protect us from terrorists, criminals and rogue states. But the Snowden revelations show that we face unaccountable indiscriminate surveillance of Internet users on a global scale. This attack on privacy has potential devastating implications for our understanding of democracy.

But is’s not just the foundations of democracy that are under attack. Recent revelations of a systematic weakening of encryption systems by US and UK security agencies undermine fundamental Internet security. These are the basics of trust on the Internet; they are the reason we trust our bank, our credit card payments or Virtual Private Networks not to leak this information to criminals, blackmailers or governments. Thus the real impact will not just be about state security, it may be about economics and the opportunities for increased wellbeing presented by the Internet.

Confirmed speakers: Tom Watson MP, Paul Johnson – Deputy Editor, The Guardian, Javier Ruiz – Campaigns Director, Open Rights Group, and Nick Pickles – Executive Director, Big Brother Watch.

Not sure if Tom’ll make it. He had to miss an earlier meeting today.

I’m told there’ll be free drinks.

Sadly, I’ll not be there, I need to be back in London. …