Category Archives: National security

Signed Statement Condemns DHS Proposal to Demand Passwords to Enter the U.S.

A group of 50 organisations and nearly 90 individual experts have signed a statement against the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal to ask non-citizens to provide the passwords to their social media accounts in order to enter the United States.

The social media password proposal was raised by Secretary John Kelly at the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on 7th February.

The signed statement, which has been organised by the Center for Democracy & Technology, recognises the United States Government’s need to protect its borders but argues that a “blanket policy of demanding passwords” would “undermine security, privacy, and other rights”.

To view the full statement with list of signatories please click here.

ILPC launches new report: ‘Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in a Digital Age’

front-page-snippet-download-the-reportThe emergence of an everyday digital culture and the increasing use of legal instruments by state actors to collect and access communications data has led to growing concern about the protection of journalistic sources and whistleblowers.

With the support of Guardian News and Media, the Information Law and Policy Centre has published a new report to consider these developments entitled ‘Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in a Digital Age’. The report is open access and available for download.

Authored by Dr Judith Townend and Dr Richard Danbury, the report analyses how technological advances expose journalists and their sources to interference by state actors, corporate entities or individuals.

The report also looks at how journalists can reduce threats to whistleblowing; examines the rights and responsibilities of journalists, whistleblowers and lawmakers; and makes a number of positive recommendations for policymakers, journalists, NGOs and researchers.

The report’s findings are based on discussions with 25 investigative journalists, representatives from relevant NGOs and media organisations, media lawyers and specialist researchers in September 2016.

Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in a Digital Age was officially launched on 22 February 2017 at the House of Lords.

Alongside the report, the Information Policy Law and Policy Centre has also published a range of open access resources on journalistic sources and whistleblowing which are available here.

How the UK passed the most invasive surveillance law in democratic history

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In this guest post, Paul Bernal, Lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law at the University of East Anglia, reflects on the passage of the Investigatory Powers Bill. The legislation was recently passed in Parliament and given Royal Assent on 29 November 2016.

You might not have noticed thanks to world events, but the UK parliament recently approved the government’s so-called Snooper’s Charter and it has now become law. This nickname for the Investigatory Powers Bill is well earned. It represents a new level and nature of surveillance that goes beyond anything previously set out in law in a democratic society. It is not a modernisation of existing law, but something qualitatively different, something that intrudes upon every UK citizen’s life in a way that would even a decade ago have been inconceivable. Continue reading

Information Law and Policy Centre’s annual workshop highlights new challenges in balancing competing human rights

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Our annual workshop and lecture – held earlier this month – brought together a wide range of legal academics, lawyers, policy-makers and interested parties to discuss the future of human rights and digital information control.

A number of key themes emerged in our panel sessions including the tensions present in balancing Article 8 and Article 10 rights; the new algorithmic and informational power of commercial actors; the challenges for law enforcement; the liability of online intermediaries; and future technological developments.

The following write up of the event offers a very brief summary report of each panel and of Rosemary Jay’s evening lecture.

Morning Session

Panel A: Social media, online privacy and shaming

Helen James and Emma Nottingham (University of Winchester) began the panel by presenting their research (with Marion Oswald) into the legal and ethical issues raised by the depiction of young children in broadcast TV programmes such as The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds. They were also concerned with the live-tweeting which accompanied these programmes, noting that very abusive tweets could be directed towards children taking part in the programmes.

Continue reading

Full Programme: Annual Workshop and Evening Lecture

Restricted and Redacted: Where now for human rights and digital information control?

The full programme for the Information Law and Policy Centre’s annual workshop and lecture on Wednesday 9th November 2016 is now available (see below).

For both events, attendance will be free of charge thanks to the support of the IALS and our sponsor, Bloomsbury’s Communications Law journal.

To register for the afternoon workshop please visit this Eventbrite page.
To register for the evening lecture please visit this Eventbrite Page.

Please note that for administrative purposes you will need to book separate tickets for the afternoon and evening events if you would like to come to both events.

PROGRAMME

10.45am: REGISTRATION AND COFFEE 

11.15am: Welcome

  • Judith Townend, University of Sussex
  • Paul Wragg, University of Leeds
  • Julian Harris, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London

11.30am-1pm: PANEL 1 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Social media, online privacy and shaming

Chair: Asma Vranaki, Queen Mary University of London

  1. David Mangan, City, University of London, Dissecting Social Media: Audience and Authorship
  2. Marion Oswald, Helen James, Emma Nottingham, University of Winchester, The not-so-secret life of five year olds: Legal and ethical issues relating to disclosure of information and the depiction of children on broadcast and social media
  3. Maria Run Bjarnadottir, Ministry of the Interior in Iceland, University of Sussex, Does the internet limit human rights protection? The case of revenge porn
  4. Tara Beattie, University of Durham, Censoring online sexuality – A non-heteronormative, feminist perspective

Panel B: Access to Information and protecting the public interest

Chair: Judith Townend, University of Sussex

  1. Ellen P. Goodman, Rutgers University, Obstacles to Using Freedom of Information Laws to Unpack Public/Private Deployments of Algorithmic Reasoning in the Public Sphere
  2. Felipe Romero-Moreno, University of Hertfordshire, ‘Notice and staydown’, the use of content identification and filtering technology posing a fundamental threat to human rights
  3. Vigjilenca Abazi, Maastricht University, Mapping Whistleblowing Protection in Europe: Information Flows in the Public Interest

1-2pm: LUNCH 

2-3.30pm: PANEL 2 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Data protection and surveillance

Chair: Nora Ni Loideain, University of Cambridge

  1. Jiahong Chen, University of Edinburgh, How the Best Laid Plans Go Awry: The (Unsolved) Issues of Applicable Law in the General Data Protection Regulation
  2. Jessica Cruzatti-Flavius, University of Massachusetts, The Human Hard Drive: Name Erasure and the Rebranding of Human Beings
  3. Wenlong Li, University of Edinburgh, Right to Data Portability (RDP)
  4. Ewan Sutherland, Wits University, Wire-tapping in the regulatory state – changing times, changing mores

Panel B: Technology, power and governance

Chair: Chris Marsden, University of Sussex

  1. Monica Horten, London School of Economics, How Internet structures create closure for freedom of expression – an exploration of human rights online in the context of structural power theory
  2. Perry Keller, King’s College, London, Bringing algorithmic governance to the smart city
  3. Marion Oswald, University of Winchester and Jamie Grace, Sheffield Hallam University, Intelligence, policing and the use of algorithmic analysis – initial conclusions from a survey of UK police forces using freedom of information requests as a research methodology
  4. Allison Holmes, Kent University, Private Actor or Public Authority? How the Status of Communications Service Providers affects Human Rights

3.30-5pm: PANEL 3 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Intermediary Liability

Chair: Christina Angelopoulos, University of Cambridge

  1. Judit Bayer, Miskolc University, Freedom and Diversity on the Internet: Liability of Intermediaries for Third Party Content
  2. Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Félix Tréguer, CNRS-Sorbonne Institute for Communication Sciences and Federica Giovanella, University of Trento, Intermediary Liability and Community Wireless Networks Design Shaping
  3. David Rolph, University of Sydney, Liability of Search Engines for Publication of Defamatory Matter: An Australian Perspective

Panel B: Privacy and anonymity online

Chair: Paul Wragg, University of Leeds

  1. Gavin Phillipson, University of Durham, Threesome injuncted: has the Supreme Court turned the tide against the media in online privacy cases?
  2. Fiona Brimblecombe, University of Durham, European Privacy Law
  3. James Griffin, University of Exeter and Annika Jones, University of Durham, The future of privacy in a world of 3D printing

5-6pm: TEA BREAK / STRETCH YOUR LEGS

6-8pm: EVENING LECTURE AND DRINKS

Lecture Title: Heads and shoulders, knees and toes (and eyes and ears and mouth and nose…): The impact of the General Data Protection Regulation on use of biometrics.

Biometrics are touted as one of the next big things in the connected world. Specific reference to biometrics and genetic data has been included for the first time in the General Data Protection Regulation. How does this affect existing provisions? Will the impact of the Regulation be to encourage or to restrict the development of biometric technology?

  • Speaker: Rosemary Jay, Senior Consultant Attorney at Hunton & Williams and author of Sweet & Maxwell’s Data Protection Law & Practice.
  • Chair: Professor Lorna Woods, University of Essex
  • Respondents: Professor Andrea Matwyshyn, Northeastern University and Mr James Michael, IALS

Information Law and Policy Centre Annual Lecture and Workshop

An afternoon workshop and evening lecture to be given by leading information and data protection lawyer Rosemary Jay.

Restricted and Redacted: Where now for human rights and digital information control?

The Information Law and Policy Centre is delighted to announce that bookings are now open for its annual workshop and lecture on Wednesday 9th November 2016, this year supported by Bloomsbury’s Communications Law journal.

For both events, attendance will be free of charge thanks to the support of the IALS and our sponsor, although registration will be required as places are limited.

To register for the afternoon workshop please visit this Eventbrite page.

To register for the evening lecture please visit this Eventbrite Page.

Please note that for administrative purposes you will need to book separate tickets for the afternoon and evening events if you would like to come to both events.

AFTERNOON WORKSHOP/SEMINAR 
11am – 5pm (lunch and refreshments provided)

For the afternoon part of this event we have an excellent set of presentations lined up that consider information law and policy in the context of human rights. Speakers will offer an original perspective on the way in which information and data interact with legal rights and principles relating to free expression, privacy, data protection, reputation, copyright, national security, anti-discrimination and open justice.

We will be considering topics such as internet intermediary liability, investigatory and surveillance powers, media regulation, freedom of information, the EU General Data Protection Regulation, whistleblower protection, and ‘anti-extremism’ policy. The full programme will be released in October.

EVENING LECTURE BY ROSEMARY JAY, HUNTON & WILLIAMS
6pm-7.30pm (followed by reception)

The afternoon workshop will be followed by a keynote lecture to be given by Rosemary Jay, senior consultant attorney at Hunton & Williams and author of Sweet & Maxwell’s Data Protection Law & Practice. Continue reading

Analysing the Advocate General’s opinion on data retention and EU law

7562831366_66f986c3ea_o (1)Last week, the Advocate General published an opinion on a case brought to the European Court of Justice concerning the compatibility of the UK and Sweden’s data retention laws with EU law.

In a detailed analysis, Lorna Woods, Professor of Internet Law at the University of Essex considers the potential implications of the opinion for national data retention regimes (including the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill) and the legal tensions which arise from the Advocate General’s opinion. This post first appeared on Professor Steve Peer’s EU Law Analysis blog.     

The Advocate General’s opinion concerns two references from national courts which both arose in the aftermath of the invalidation of the Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24) in Digital Rights Ireland dealing with whether the retention of communications data en masse complies with EU law.

The question is important for the regimes that triggered the references, but in the background is a larger question: can mass retention of data ever be human rights compliant. While the Advocate General clearly states this is possible, things may not be that straightforward. Continue reading

Whistleblowers and journalists in the digital age

Snowden

Dr Aljosha Karim Schapals, research assistant at the Information Law and Policy Centre, reports on a research workshop hosted by the University of Cardiff on Digital Citizenship and the ‘Surveillance Society’.

A workshop led by researchers at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) on 27th June in London shared the findings of an 18 month ESRC funded research project examining the relationships between the state, the media and citizens in the wake of the Snowden revelations of 2013.

It was the concluding event of a number of conferences, seminars and workshops organised by the five principal researchers: Dr Arne Hintz (Cardiff), Dr Lina Dencik (Cardiff), Prof Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (Cardiff), Prof Ian Brown (Oxford) and Dr Michael Rogers (TU Delft).

Broadly speaking, the Digital Citizenship and the ‘Surveillance Society’ (DCSS) project has investigated the nature, opportunities and challenges of digital citizenship in light of US and UK governmental surveillance as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Touching on more general themes such as freedom of expression, data privacy and civic transparency, the project aligns with the research activities of the Information Law and Policy Centre, which include developing work on journalism and whistleblower protection, and discussions and analysis of the Investigatory Powers Bill. Continue reading

Lorna Woods: An overview of the Investigatory Powers Bill report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights

In this post, Professor Lorna Woods, University of Essex and Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, considers a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Investigatory Powers Bill.

The Joint Committee has reported on the IPB. In doing so, it has made clear that this is an expedited report to aid the bill’s hasty progress through Parliament. The Joint Committee does not suggest that its review covers all the issues, nor that it might not come back to issues. The Joint Committee discussed issues arising under seven headings: bulk powers; thematic warrants; modifications; MPs and the Wilson Doctrine; legal professional privilege (LPP); journalists’ sources; and oversightContinue reading

Cultural cold wars: The risk of anti-‘extremism’ policy for academic freedom of expression

Universities risk ignoring laws about protecting freedom of speech in their attempt to protect students against being radicalised, argue Professor Alison Scott-Baumann and Hugh Tomlinson QC. This post first appeared on Research Professional.

Universities are under increasing pressure from government to prevent students coming into contact with “extreme” ideas. The view is that students exposed to any kind of views designated “extreme” could be drawn into terrorism. But the risk to freedom of speech and academic freedom is obvious. Society needs to avoid a climate in which ideas are seen as dangerous, deviant and extremist if they differ from views that are believed to be held by the majority. Many university administrators now appear to believe that in order to prevent terrorism, the law requires them to curtail the freedom of academic debate. This approach is not only wrong in principle and in practice but also illegal.

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places certain duties on higher education authorities but, contrary to what is often assumed, it does not place a statutory duty on universities to monitor or record information or to ban certain kinds of lawful speech. It merely imposes a duty to “have due regard” to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. The act gives the business secretary the power to issue guidance about how the duty should be exercised. Universities must “have regard” to such guidance. But it nevertheless remains just that―guidance.

And the official guidance intended to clarify the 2015 act is unclear and potentially misleading. Broad definitions of extremism seem to be linked to equally imprecise definitions of “terrorism”, “non-violent extremism”, “radicalisation” and “fundamental British values”. These definitions could be understood to mean that people who are, for example, critical of British foreign policy, are at risk of radicalisation and to suggest that academics and students accustomed to expressing personal views at university would need to be warned of the risks of discussing certain issues. But this is not correct, and universities should not let the imprecise and unclear language of the guidance draw them into placing unlawful restrictions on academic freedom and freedom of speech.

It is crucial to understand that in addition to imposing the Prevent duty to “have due regard” to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism, the 2015 act also emphasizes freedom of academic expression. A university is also under a duty to “have due regard” to the duty to ensure freedom of speech.

The “duty to ensure freedom of speech” is found in the Education Act 1986 and is expressed in the widest terms. The 1986 act confers on universities not just a duty to “have regard” to freedom of speech but a much stronger duty to “take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees… and visiting speakers”. Universities must ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, that no individual is denied use of their premises on any ground connected with “the beliefs or views of that individual”. The only basis on which the duty to ensure freedom of expression can be overridden is if what a visiting speaker is likely to say is not “within the law” or it is not “reasonably practicable” to allow use of university premises (because, for example, no room is available or there is likely to be disorder at the public meeting).

In other words, a university cannot, lawfully, ban a speaker just because he or she says something opposed to “fundamental British values”. Those defined as “extremists” in the guidance have to be given a platform unless they are advocating violence or some other illegal conduct.

And there is more. Universities are public authorities and, as such, it is illegal under the Human Rights Act 1998 for them to act in a way that is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. This includes a right to freedom of expression that can only be restricted if the restriction is legal, for a proper purpose and if the restriction is necessary and proportionate to achieve that purpose. Restrictions on visiting speakers or on the expression of ideas by students or staff are only legal if they comply with these rules. The fact that a speaker may say something provocative or offensive does not mean that his or her rights can lawfully be interfered with. Provided that what is said does not incite, threaten or provoke violence or is otherwise contrary to the criminal law, it would be illegal for a university to prohibit or restrict it.

It is important to remember that the provisions of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 do not place any strict or absolute duties on universities. They require a university to do three things: to take reasonably practicable steps to secure freedom of speech for students, staff and visiting speakers; to take into account the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism; and to take into account the guidance issued by the business secretary. A university would need to consider how far people risk being drawn into terrorism or being upset about any issues (including gender and politics and international relations) by the views likely to be expressed. But if the speaker is going to stay within the law then the event must be allowed to proceed, even if there is no opposing speaker. Any restrictions or prohibitions on speech that does not break the criminal law are likely to be illegal.

The message is clear. Universities need carefully to monitor events, considering each one individually, and they must keep proper records. They should record the fact that they have considered the risks and explain why they have decided that a particular event should proceed. But they would be in breach of their duty to ensure freedom of speech and of duties under the 2015 act if they adopted rigid rules and applied them to every situation without specific consideration of individual circumstances. And they would be acting illegally if they refused a platform to speakers whose actions were unlikely to break the law.

In short, the guidance cannot set down any hard and fast rules. Other factors to be taken into account are existing “duty of care” criteria and the criminal law. Both are already well understood and implemented by universities and should be sufficient to safeguard university staff and students. Every university has a well-developed duty of care policy.

University life is being depicted as fraught with danger―potential and actual―because of a perceived terrorist threat and also the implication that many ideas are dangerous, deviant and extremist. There is a risk that this depiction will eventually have a real and detrimental effect on university culture. These phenomena form part of a new cultural cold war in which universities are at risk of mirroring the deviance that they are tasked with monitoring. It is urgent to consider what can be done in the interests of freedom of speech and academic freedom, before universities are told that thought itself is too radical.

Alison Scott-Baumann is professor of society and belief in the Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London. Hugh Tomlinson QC is a practising barrister at Matrix Chambers who specialises in human rights and freedom of expression.

This post first appeared on Research Professional and is re-published with the kind permission of the authors. Resources from the School of Advanced Study’s ‘Prevent in Practice’ conference in October 2015 can be found at this link.

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