In a remarkable resignation statement, the man responsible for the EU’s ACTA negotiations has resigned, blasting the document as secrative and un-democratic.
Kader Arif, rapporteur for ACTA in the European Parliament quit his role as rapporteur saying:
”I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament’s demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.”
“As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens’ legitimate demands.”
On January 18 2011, Wikipedia will voluntarily shut its website down for twelve hours, in protest at two pieces of legislation being considered in the US – SOPA and PIPA. Big Brother Watch will be doing the same.
Yes, it may appear a futile gesture. But we believe this is too important an issue to carry on as normal. Like many UK websites, several of our online services are run via the United States. As a result, our website falls under US law. It is grossly naive to think that legislation currently being considered in the US, which in the opinion of many constitutes a fundamental attack on freedom online, would not impact on businesses and individuals in the UK.
As the White House’s response to the massive public outcry against the proposals says, “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” In their current form, the laws being considered in the US undoubtedly fall foul of each of those criteria.
According to the ICO yesterday, a former gambling industry worker has plead guilty to committing three offences under section 55 of the Data Protection Act. For these offences, Marc Ben-Ezra was handed a three year conditional discharge and £1,700 fine in addition to just over £800 pounds in court fees. This is his penance for selling more than 65,000 individuals’ personal data for a profit of around £25,000.
This case is a particularly blaring example of where the laws surrounding data protection are lacking. Not only was Mr Ben-Ezra able to obtain and remove personal data from his place of work, but he was able to make a profit from doing so-even after his sentence for pleading guilty was handed down. Read more
Writing on The Commentator, I highlight the links between a recent court case where BT was ordered to block a file sharing website with the growing calls for wider censorship of the internet.
“As the legal question of protecting intellectual property and enforcing the criminal law becomes burred with the moral questions posed by the likes of Claire Perry, the future of British access – private access – to a free internet becomes ever less certain.
This week, the great and the good of the internet world gathered in London to discuss the impending doom that an explosion in cybercrime entails. Yet perhaps the greatest threat lies from within, and a perfect storm of security, child protection and sexualisation and copyright enforcement we may be sleepwalking into the end of freedom online as we know it.”
The Data Protection Act may be 13 years old, but as research published today by the Information Commissioner’s Office highlights, personal information is still far from secure.
In an age of social networks, online shopping and digital government, personal information is a currency in its own right. Our privacy depends on information about us, whether that be medical records or recent purchases, being held securely and accessed for the proper reason. It is also essential that we have the ability to correct information held about us, where errors and conflicts exist.
Personal information is a critical part of protecting our privacy in a digital age. Yet as the table to the right shows, the majority of organisations still do not understand their obligations under the Act.
With instances of personal information being lost or accessed inappropriately continuing to rise, up 58% in the past year, Government needs to do far more to ensure privacy is protected with adequate legal safeguards.
This survey highlights the failure of the ICO to create a clear and robust system for protecting information, and reaffirms the need for tougher sanctions and a much greater effort to enforce the law. Big Brother Watch has previously supported the ICO’s call for custodial sanctions to be available alongside fines, and these findings reinforce the need for much more to be done to improve the protection of our personal information.