Friday, August 29, 2014

Workshops on key economic issues wrt IPR enforcement in EU

The European Commission is holding a series of workshops on the economics of IPR enforcement.

I've been invited to attend the first of these scheduled for 19 September at Directorate General for Internal Market and Services in Brussels. The focus of this first session is -
"the question whether the concept of 'commercial scale' or 'commercial purpose' provide useful guidance in IPR infringement cases from an economic perspective and whether there are economic concepts that could be used to make the concept more precise and operational."
Additionally the EC is interested in  how best to design this workshop series
"and to learn about your views regarding IPR enforcement issues that should be addressed in future workshops"
My views on the need for evidence based intellectual property policy across the whole IPR landscape are familiar to readers of this blog but I'm happy to consider any comments, suggestions or views on the issues anyone would like to send me in advance of the workshop.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dear VirginMedia executive team - about that poor broadband service yet again

My VirginMedia broadband service has been deteriorating and getting erratic again. So I've written to the VirginMedia Executive Team, including a copy of the open letter I sent the CEO the last time it was really bad.

I really can't face the endless telephone tag, the effusive exuberance of the recorded young woman's voice they use on the phone lines, the VirginMedia website mining, the days of superhub channel changing experiments, the plugging the hub out and in, and all the other usual suspects that involve vast expenditure of customer time and energy largely to no useful end. I've kept it short this time.
Dear VirginMedia Executive Team,

Your broadband service has, yet again, been erratic, wireless connectivity exceptionally so. It has been deteriorating again for weeks. One laptop simply cannot connect wirelessly at all today.

Your “check service status” phone line “confirms” that Virgin Media believe/assert “there are no problems” in my area. Your “check service status” facility on the web - https://my.virginmedia.com/faults/service-status
says there is “Good service” in my area.

As is regularly the case, they are both wrong.

As before, I'm merely asking for an operational service and now I'm going to repeat myself: 

When there is a problem with my broadband service – it’s slow and/or down and/or erratic and/or there are power fluctuations on the line – I want Virgin Media to know about it, let me know about it in an accessible communiqué, work hard to fix it asap and deliver a reliable service. I don't want to play telephone tag for hours, days or weeks or go on endless, fruitless Virgin Media website mining expeditions, in an effort to find a temporary DIY patch for the prevailing problem to tide me over until the next disruption.

Given that my bills are paid regularly regardless of the standard of service you provide, it really doesn't seem to much to ask that that service be robust and reliable.

Regards,

Ray Corrigan

Open letter to Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, (draft originally addressed to Richard Branson before I remembered that Mr Branson sold the company to Liberty Global last year).

Dear Mr Mockridge,
Much though I appreciate the regular opportunity to navigate your Virgin Media broadband service telephone tag maze and engage your stressed call centre staff in friendly conversation, I'm rather busy with other personal and professional things in life at the moment.
Your broadband service which I subscribe to at home has provided a variable wireless connection to my collection of digital devices for several days and has been deteriorating for several months.  Though the connection to the computer directly wired to the Virgin Super Hub has been more or less ok, apart from the odd day or two or threes interruptions to service here and there, the wireless connection to other devices has been erratic and often slow with download speeds slipping below several tenths of a Mbps.
As when I wrote to Richard Branson in October 2012, I'd just like to point out, again, that this is disrupting my family’s work, education, social activities and access to public and commercial services.

Your “check service status” phone line “confirms” that Virgin Media believe/assert “there are no problems” in my area.
Your “check service status” facility on the web - https://my.virginmedia.com/faults/service-status
says there is “Good service” in my area.
 
They are both wrong.
 
As I believe I explained previously, to Mr Branson when he owned the company, when there are problems it is somewhat irritating if Virgin Media declare/think/pretend there are none.

Your labyrinthine, do-it-yourself (DIY) ‘check and fix your own problems’ approach on the Virgin Media website is quite something.  It assumes customers have the capacity and the skill to hunt down and follow a series of Russian doll like instructions and articles about where you might find instructions which rarely fix anything. This does, however, generate significant angst. I'm at risk of repeating myself here but one of my least favourite activities, when I get home from work, is going through a series of convoluted, difficult to access (via your website or phone helplines) routine processes I know to be futile, in an effort to demonstrate to one of your difficult to access call centre folks that I’ve already tried the stuff on their crib sheet without success.

Your various “helplines” – out of which, these days, positively dance the effusively cheery young woman's recorded voice, seemingly nothing short of delighted to hear from me - are not very helpful. Incidentally the consultants – that advised your people or your people's people that customers, reduced to having to engage in endless telephone tag about a fault, would have their disquietude quelled by an extravagantly high spirited recorded voice – were wrong.

“Press 1 for…” queuing, canned music, notes that staff are busy (me too) and I'll have to stay on hold for x minutes, opportunities to choose the type of canned music I'd like to hear (my kids thought that was hilarious), more of the excessively upbeat recorded female voice and eventually, at the end of a long wait, connect to a member of call centre staff who can’t help. Apparently I'd been routed to cable services instead of national services. So cable services' Jay therefore had to transfer me to another part of your operation which in its turn can't help because I've been misdirected; so will transfer me to someone who they guarantee, absolutely, this time, will be the right person. None of this is conducive to soothing already fragile customer relations. 

I spent about 40 minutes on the phone yesterday evening and after three false starts got through to a senior technician, Anjan, who seemed pretty stressed and worn out himself. I explained the wifi problem and Anjan declared Virgin could not guarantee a stable wifi connection. Not a promising start and something of a contrast to the response I got from a very helpful lady called Shambhavi when I had an equivalent wifi problem in August of 2013.*

In any case Anjan re-booted the super hub and changed the wireless channel. Neither activity helped. (They didn't the last time I tried them either.) So he said the best thing to do would be to send a technician round to physically relocate the super hub. Now given the super hub has not moved and we haven't acquired or run any extra digital technologies in the past week, I'm skeptical that the notion of physically moving the hub will make any appreciable difference to the erratic wifi connection. Nevertheless I accept that Anjan, as he said, was at the end of a telephone line and couldn't see the relative layout of where the wireless devices were in relation to the hub. 

So I await your technician to work his/her magic next Tuesday between 1 and 6pm . The restoration of my wireless connections to something in the realm consistent usability and the banishment particularly of that irritating video buffering circle to the annals of history will be most welcome, if it can be achieved. I will, by the way, have to miss an important meeting to be at home to accommodate this visit.
 
To any Virgin Media staff who trip across this open note - if you have, thanks for taking the time to read it thus far. To the Virgin Media call centre staff most of whom are doing your best in the face of problems outside your control - thank you for your efforts and your understanding, when you can muster it up, that I did not call to make your life miserable, merely to ask for an operational service.

To Mr Mockridge - as I said to Mr Branson, when there is a problem with my broadband service – it’s slow and/or down and/or erratic and/or there are power fluctuations on the line – I want Virgin Media to know about it, let me know about it in an accessible communiqué, work hard to fix it asap and deliver a reliable service. I don't want to play telephone tag for hours, days or weeks or go on endless, fruitless Virgin Media website mining expeditions, in an effort to find a temporary DIY patch for the prevailing problem to tide me over until the next disruption.

BT write regularly encouraging me to switch broadband provider.  The series of disruptions in Virgin Media services in the past year alone is causing me to wonder whether that alternative would be more consistently reliable, with the additional bonus of access to BT Sport.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Ray Corrigan
Update 28/8/'14: I've had an email from the CEO Case Manager at Virgin Media, Alex Poole, on 26/8 indicating my case would be assigned to a specialist complaints agent within 24 hours. I did indeed get a call from a very helpful Virgin Media member of staff, Andy, yesterday who I talked through the problem of the erratic connectivity. He suggested sending a technician out to diagnose and hopefully resolve the problem next Monday.  Additionally I've had another call today from the principle engineer, Jacob, who also tried to be very helpful and is keen to resolve the problem. Jacob mentioned that they had not spotted any network problems in my area through their diagnostics. I noted that my connection was down completely for about 30 minutes yesterday, so he's going to recheck the logs for the past 24 hours or so. In any case, hopefully this encouraging willingness on the part of Virgin Media's staff means I'll have a robust reliable connection by early next week.

Update: 1/9/'14: I'm at Sussex University at Gikii 2014 at the moment so was not home when the Virgin Media techie called this morning. My better half, however, tells me he was excellent, doing a thorough diagnostic hardware and signal check, hardware maintenance on the external junction box; and also regulating the signal coming in, which was way outside recommended parameters. He explained very clearly what he was doing, what the potential problem might be and was happy to answer questions etc. All round good job by the sounds of it. Hopefully that will cure the connectivity issues for now. (So far so good as I understand it but my check in at home was pretty brief.). Thanks to the gentleman who made a sterling effort to sort the problems today.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Parody, quotation & format shifting exceptions coming to UK

This blogger is not known for his unstinting praise of government policy in the intellectual property arena.

However, little noticed by the wider world and much to the collective chagrin of the big music labels, changes to copyright exceptions were approved by Parliament this week. After a hiccup earlier in the summer when they were postponed by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI), the

Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014

and the

Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014

were approved by the House of Lords shortly before 6.30pm on Tuesday, 29 July. The regulations are now due to be implemented on 1 October 2014.

Debate commenced 4.42pm (at column 1553) and there was a further last minute attempt, by members of the Lords sympathetic to traditional big music labels' interests, to undermine the format shifting exception. It nevertheless passed unscathed.

It means that from 1 October, for the first time in the UK, we will be lawfully permitted to copy our CDs to our digital music players and from old to new music players, for private use. Though most people don't realise this common act is not currently allowed under UK copyright law. Likewise it comes as a surprise when people find out that parody is also not a currently recognised exception to copyright in the UK.

These regulations are important additions to the IP policy framework that bring the UK closer into line with international norms, although the parody exception is quite narrowly construed to allow only 'fair dealing' use of the original work.

So it is well done to -

Lord Younger of Leckie, the previous intellectual property minister, who saw these regulations through at government level for most of the past 18 months

and

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the very new IP minister, who steered the regulations through their final hurdle.

Most especially, however, significant praise is due to Matthew Williams and the copyright team at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Tony Clayton and his team of economists at the UK Intellectual Property Office, all of whom have been working tirelessly for years on improving the UK's IP policy.

There are a lot of very smart, hard working officials in public service attempting to educate the government on the need for evidence based policy making in the intellectual property and wider technology, security, economics, social, environmental and human rights policy arenas.  They deserve our respect and thanks and so, for once, I'd like to make an effort say thank you, especially to everyone involved in bringing these regulations to fruition.

Thanks also for listening and taking account of the work of my old friend, Mark Rogers. Mark would have been pleased but he'd also have been the first to remind us, gently but firmly, that we still have a lot of work to do. The road to sustainable enlightenment in policy involves unfailing care, hard graft and eternal vigilance.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Response from MP on DRIPA

On the first Monday of her summer holidays and after the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act had become law with her support the previous week, my MP, Nicola Blackwood, responded to my notes to her expressing concerns about the then DRIP Bill. Copy of her response below which essentially repeats the Conservative Party line.
"Dear Mr Corrigan,
Thank you for your emails about the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, which has now received Royal Assent, and for your telephone call to my office. My staff passed on your message, and I know this is a subject you feel strongly about.
 I do understand the concerns that have been raised with regard to this legislation, in particular that it has come before the House as emergency legislation, and I share your desire to ensure that people’s civil liberties are protected at all times. I have consistently said it is absolutely essential that powers to monitor communications are confined to what is entirely necessary and proportionate to protect our national security, and also to be accountable.
 To be clear, this legislation goes no further than regulations which are already in place. Rather, it brings clarity to existing law following a ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in April. The ECJ’s ruling would have struck down regulations that let internet and phone companies retain communications data for law enforcement purposes for 12 months, and therefore a clearer legal framework was needed to underpin companies’ cooperation with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to intercept the communications of serious organised criminals and terrorists. I understand that some companies had already made clear to the Government that they would be unable to work with the UK on this unless that law was consolidated and made clear.
 That is why the Act brings together our data retention regulations in primary legislation, where at present it is under secondary legislation, and enables agencies to maintain their existing capabilities. In addition, it makes clear that the requirements include companies based abroad, whose phone and internet services are used in the UK. These powers, already in place, are held through not only the data retention directive and regulations, but also in relation to lawful intercept provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000).
 As you may know, the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, came before the Home Affairs Select Committee, of which I am a member, last week to discuss the provisions of the Act. The Government has stated that communications data and interception plays an important role in prosecuting cases of serious organised crime. Therefore, whilst before the Committee, I took the opportunity to ask the Home Secretary about this and she clarified that such data is used in 95% of cases that the Crown Prosecution Service deals with in relation to serious and organised crime; it has been used in all major counter-terrorism investigations over the last decade.
 Theresa May MP also explained that the Government had carefully considered how to respond to the ECJ ruling, and I was reassured by her clear statement that no more powers are being sought. I agree with the statement made by the Home Secretary that these powers are only to be used ‘with very carefully controlled access arrangements to ensure that any request is necessary and proportionate to the investigation that is taking place’. The existing EU directive, which was overturned by the ECJ, had meant that the period of data retention was an ‘absolute period’ of 12 months and there was no flexibility within this. By contrast, the new regulations will mean that data can only be held for a maximum of 12 months.
 Crucially, alongside the introduction of this legislation the Government is further strengthening the oversight of intelligence capabilities. Between now and 2016, the Government will review the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (RIPA) to make recommendations to reform and update it- this has now been reaffirmed in the wording of the Act. Ministers are also establishing a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board which I understand will work to ensure civil liberties are properly considered when the Government sets counter-terrorism policy. I have received assurances from Ministers that the Government is also restricting the number of public bodies that can ask for communications data and will be publishing annual transparency reports. This will make more information publically available than ever before.
 The Home Affairs Committee expressed our view to the Home Secretary that we supported the Bill as a whole, and particularly welcomed Clause 6(3), or the ‘sunset provision’, which means that the legislation will ‘expire’ on 16th December 2016 and will therefore be repealed or renewed at this point. Further, on the day of the vote, the Government accepted new amendments to the Bill which bind us to six-monthly reviews of its operation by the Interception of Communications Commissioner.
 Ministers are mindful that without legislation, we face the prospect of a serious degradation in the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to do their jobs. It is for the reasons detailed above, i.e. that the Act does not extend existing powers and that safeguards and oversight mechanisms are expanded, that I voted for it in the House of Commons last week. The ECJ ruling disbanded the existing EU directive on the basis that it lacked sufficient safeguards, allowing phone and internet companies to store data but did not establish how this data could be accessed or for what purposes. Whereas this new legislation makes clear that the legal framework in which companies must work within, and the circumstances in which this data can be used for vital law enforcement and for our national security.
 I have attached above a copy of the letter I received from Home Office Minister, James Brokenshire MP, which explains the Act in full. I do hope this response is helpful, and thank you, once again, for taking the time to contact me on this important issue.
 Kind regards
Nicola"
The letter from Security Minister James Brokenshire which Ms Blackwood attached to her response read -
"HOUSE OF COMMONS
LONDON SW1A 0AA 10th July 2014
 Dear Colleague,
 COMMUNICATIONS DATA AND LAWFUL INTERCEPTION
It is the first duty of Government to protect the public and we are today introducing emergency legislation to ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have access to the tools they need to keep us safe.  Access to information relating to communications, subject to robust safeguards, is vital in the fight against crime and terrorism and has been used successfully for many years.

Communications data – the who, where, when and how of a communication but not its content – is a vital tool in the investigation of crime and safeguarding the public.  It has been used in 95% of serious and organised crime investigations handled by the Crown Prosecution Service and every major Security Service counter-terrorism investigation over the last decade.

The interception of the content of communications is of critical importance to the preservation of national security. Since 2010, the majority of the Security Service’s top priority UK counter-terrorism investigations have used intercept capabilities in some form to identify, understand or disrupt plots seeking to harm the UK and its citizens.  However, two recent developments have put these crucial capabilities at risk.  Without legislation, we face the real prospect of a serious degradation in the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to do their jobs.

Firstly, the European Court of Justice judgment of 8 April declared the EU Data Retention Directive (2006) invalid.  This Directive required Member States in Europe to provide for a mandatory communications data retention framework covering certain data for the purpose of the investigation of serious crime.  Following the judgment, our domestic Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009, which transposed the Directive, remain in force.  However, we need to legislate to maintain an effective mandatory communications data retention framework, and to address the ruling unambiguously and immediately.

If companies could no longer be required to retain communications data, law enforcement’s capability to prevent and detect crime and protect the public would be severely degraded; many investigations would be delayed and some would cease entirely.

The second component of the Bill will put beyond doubt that companies providing communication services to customers in the UK must comply with lawful requests under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 irrespective of where those companies are located.    A number of overseas communication service providers have questioned whether they are required to comply with obligations under the Act in relation to the interception of communications.
 With the increasing globalisation of communications, any decrease in cooperation from overseas providers could have a devastating impact on national security.  If we lose visibility of what terrorists are saying to each other, we will lose the ability to understand and mitigate the threat that they pose.

This Bill will ensure that communications data continues to be available when it is needed.  Whilst most of the European Court’s criticisms are already addressed in UK law, the Bill will also respond to the judgment.  The European Court’s judgment did not take into account national laws on access to communications, and in particular the UK’s access regime with its robust safeguards.  Our communications data regime is internationally respected, and already addresses most of the criticisms made in the judgment.  However, we are introducing a number of new safeguards to respond to the judgment, such as enhancing our data retention notice regime, and formalising the requirements placed on communications companies to safeguard this crucial data.  We will also create a Code of Practice on Data Retention, which will put best-practice guidance on a statutory footing.  Furthermore, the Bill will also put beyond doubt the extra-territorial application of RIPA to ensure that companies, irrespective of where they are based, can comply with their obligations.

The legislation does not create any new powers, rights of access or obligations on communications companies beyond those that already exist. It does not seek to replicate the proposals that were included in the Draft Communications Data Bill, published in 2012. And it would sit aside the already robust regime RIPA provides to regulate access to retained data.

We must act now to ensure that the capability of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent and detect crime, protect the public and ensure national security does not rapidly and seriously diminish.  The need to act is made all the more pressing because the threats we face remain considerable, not least the collapse of Syria, the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, organised crime that crosses national boundaries and the expanding scope of cybercrime.

All these threats and many more should remind us that the world is a dangerous place and the United Kingdom needs the capabilities to defend its interests and protect its citizens.

The proposals on communications data and investigatory powers which I have set out above are necessary to ensure that law enforcement and security agencies are able to continue making use of these essential tools. These provisions are not intended to fill the gap which we were looking to close with the draft communications data bill but to ensure that law enforcement can continue to access the material which they currently have access to.

JAMES BROKENSHIRE "
I've responded briefly -
Dear Nicola,

Thanks for taking the time to send a response on the first day of your summer holidays. I can only repeat that for something as serious as an emergency law that requires blanket, indiscriminate communications data retention, targeted not at criminals but  the entire population, every single MP should take notice and make the requisite time to read the proposed legislation and associated documents.

It is incumbent upon MPs to understand what the laws that you are passing actually say, rather than what the party briefing or ministerial assurances might be telling you they say. When the time comes to apply the law, ministerial assurances are not worth the paper they are written on.

Without going through the process of matching each government assurance with contradictory evidence, something I suspect would be of little interest, I would like to draw your attention to one important misunderstanding. It seems increasingly to be the belief amongst MPs that blanket data collection and retention is acceptable in law and that the only concern should be the subsequent access to that data. Assertions to this effect are simply wrong.

The April European Court of Justice(ECJ) judgement restated the position clearly that mass indiscriminate data retention "constitutes in itself an interference with the rights guaranteed by Article 7 of the Charter." (Para 34 of the decision). Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental rights, as you know, guarantees everyone “the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications”. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) laid down the same prohibition of blanket retention in the S. and Marper v UK case in December 2008.

Please do not be misled into the erroneous belief that retention is acceptable and access is therefore the only problem. Underpinning any future regulatory framework in this area with such a fundamentally flawed assumption would be a big mistake on many levels. Both retention and access in and of themselves present serious article 7 and article 8 challenges, as the ECJ, the ECtHR and many other national courts have made clear.

Have a good holiday.

Regards,

Ray

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Another letter to my MP on DRIP

I've written to Nicola Blackwood, MP, again about the Data Retention and Regulatory Powers (DRIP) Bill, this time directly criticising MPs' approach to it. I phoned and wrote to her prior to the debate in the Commons on Tuesday but have had no substantive response, as of yet. Ms Blackwood does usually take the time to respond and I do expect to hear from her. It will by then, however, be much too late to do anything about the legislative plane crash that is DRIP with MPs currently fast asleep at the controls.
Nicola,
I was disappointed to see you didn’t attend the debate on the Data Retention & Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Bill on Tuesday, 15 July, yet showed up to vote it through.
It’s inspires little confidence in the integrity of Parliament when MPs just vote as instructed by the party leadership without any apparent evidence of engagement with the substance of the proposed legislation. I appreciate MPs are busy but for something as serious as an emergency law that requires blanket, indiscriminate communications data retention targeted not at criminals but  the entire population, every single MP should take notice and make time.
I would make one final request that you do take the requisite time to read the Bill and associated documents at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/dataretentionandinvestigatorypowers/documents.html
In order to understand what the Bill actually says rather than what the party briefing might be telling you it says.
And then take a principled stand against the Bill when the it comes before the Commons for confirmation later today.
Regards,
Ray

PS For information, I’m a co-signatory of the letter from UK academics to MPs asking that full and proper parliamentary scrutiny by (sic) applied to DRIP to ensure Parliamentarians are not mislead as to what powers this Bill truly contains. Our opposition to the Bill has been noted by Lord Knight in the House of Lords debate on DRIP yesterday and widely reported in the mainstream media by The Independent, The Guardian, the technology press such as Wired, also in The Wall Street Journal and several other prominent overseas media outlets.  Copy available at
Ray Corrigan 
Typo in the PS corrected in follow upmail.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DRIP debate in House of Commons

Data Retention & Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Bill debate in House of Commons (begins 12:45:37)
Not to be recommended for those of a quesy disposition

Open Letter to MPs re DRIP from UK academics

Open letter to MPs on the emergency Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Bill being rushed through the House of Commons today. (Full disclosure - I'm a co-signatory)
"Tuesday 15th July 2014 
To all Members of Parliament, 
Re: An open letter from UK internet law academic experts 

On Thursday 10 July the Coalition Government (with support from the Opposition) published draft emergency legislation, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”). The Bill was posited as doing no more than extending the data retention powers already in force under the EU Data Retention Directive, which was recently ruled incompatible with European human rights law by the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the joined cases brought by Digital Rights Ireland (C-293/12) and Seitlinger and Others (C-594/12) handed down on 8 April 2014. 
In introducing the Bill to Parliament, the Home Secretary framed the legislation as a response to the CJEU’s decision on data retention, and as essential to preserve current levels of access to communications data by law enforcement and security services. The government has maintained that the Bill does not contain new powers. 
On our analysis, this position is false. In fact, the Bill proposes to extend investigatory powers considerably, increasing the British government’s capabilities to access both communications data and content. The Bill will increase surveillance powers by authorising the government to;
  • compel any person or company – including internet services and telecommunications companies – outside the United Kingdom to execute an interception warrant (Clause 4(2));
  • compel persons or companies outside the United Kingdom to execute an interception warrant relating to conduct outside of the UK (Clause 4(2));
  • compel any person or company outside the UK to do anything, including complying with technical requirements, to ensure that the person or company is able, on a continuing basis, to assist the UK with interception at any time (Clause 4(6)).
  • order any person or company outside the United Kingdom to obtain, retain and disclose communications data (Clause 4(8)); and
  • order any person or company outside the United Kingdom to obtain, retain and disclose communications data relating to conduct outside the UK (Clause 4(8)).
The legislation goes far beyond simply authorising data retention in the UK. In fact, DRIP attempts to extend the territorial reach of the British interception powers, expanding the UK’s ability to mandate the interception of communications content across the globe. It introduces powers that are not only completely novel in the United Kingdom, they are some of the first of their kind globally. 
Moreover, since mass data retention by the UK falls within the scope of EU law, as it entails a derogation from the EU’s e-privacy Directive (Article 15, Directive 2002/58), the proposed Bill arguably breaches EU law to the extent that it falls within the scope of EU law, since such mass surveillance would still fall foul of the criteria set out by the Court of Justice of the EU in the Digital Rights and Seitlinger judgment. 
Further, the bill incorporates a number of changes to interception whilst the purported urgency relates only to the striking down of the Data Retention Directive. Even if there was a real emergency relating to data retention, there is no apparent reason for this haste to be extended to the area of interception. 
DRIP is far more than an administrative necessity; it is a serious expansion of the British surveillance state. We urge the British Government not to fast track this legislation and instead apply full and proper parliamentary scrutiny to ensure Parliamentarians are not mislead as to what powers this Bill truly contains. 
Signed,

Dr Subhajit Basu, University of Leeds
Dr Paul Bernal, University of East Anglia
Professor Ian Brown, Oxford University
Ray Corrigan, The Open University
Professor Lilian Edwards, University of Strathclyde
Dr Theodore Konstadinides, University of Surrey
Professor Chris Marsden, University of Sussex
Dr Karen Mc Cullagh, University of East Anglia
Dr. Daithí Mac Síthigh, Newcastle University
Professor David Mead, University of East Anglia
Professor Andrew Murray, London School of Economics
Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex
Julia Powles, University of Cambridge
Professor Burkhard Schafer, University of Edinburgh
Professor Lorna Woods, University of Essex
Update 17/7/'14: I'm pleased to say Dr Andres Guadamuz, University of Sussex and Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Oxford University have joined as signatories to the letter.

Note to MP re Data Retention & Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Bill

In addition to phoning my MP, Nicola Blackwood, yesterday I emailed her asking that she consider voting down the Data Retention & Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Bill.
Dear Nicola,

Sorry I missed you when I phoned your office earlier today. I'm writing to you about the complex emergency data retention and investigatory powers (DRIP) Bill the Government are rushing through Parliament this week.

I understand you may be compelled as a member of the Conservative Party into agreeing with the contents of this Bill. However, I would urge you at the very least to

·         push back on the timeframe on this legislation (there is no real emergency that requires it be passed this week)
·         advocate the deletion of clause 5 which expands the definition of “communications service” exponentially
·         advocate the amended date for the repeal of the legislation (clause 6(3)) be brought forward to three months from today or at the very latest 31 December this year – if the government are serious about this being an emergency so there can be a debate then 6 months should provide adequate time for this
·         advocate the deletion of the really complex investigatory powers amendments to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (clauses 3 and 4)

As I see it, the primary threat is the Government is concerned about is a lawsuit for failing to comply with the European Court of Justice ruling in April (in joined cases C-293/12 and C-594/12) that existing Data Retention laws are incompatible with human rights.

I would welcome comprehensive public and parliamentary debates about the issues connected to the Bill, in which you and all MPs are involved.

I appreciate you are busy so have not loaded this email with an analysis of the Bill but if you are interested in further details I have expanded on some of the problems at


I’d appreciate it if you would oppose(sic) against this legislation being rushed through in a day and as always thanks for taking time to consider my perspective on this kind of legislation.

Regards,

Ray
"...oppose..."  in that final sentence should, of course, read "...vote..."