Friday, June 01, 2007

US-Korea FTA precedent on fair use?

Cory's foaming at the mouth about the smallprint of the free trade agreement between the US and Korea due to be signed within weeks.

CSM@Remo blog says:

"In one glaring example, the governments agree to shut down internet sites that permit unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or transmission of copyrighted works-- without reference to exceptions for art, education and critique. If the agreement is ratified, both US and Korean governments will begin shutting down an undisclosed number of peer-to-peer (P2P) and online storage (‘webhard’) services. Korea will also be required to crack down on book copying on university campuses.

The Korea-US FTA could set a dangerous precedent. If ratified, the US is expected to push other countries to accept the similar conditions in their respective FTAs. Much of the ‘piracy’ that the US wants to see cracked down on is of materials copyrighted by large US-based corporations, not individual creators. Since distribution of movies, news, internet software and images is a core area of the US economy, the US government has long been aggressively pushing for stricter copyright and patent regimes in international arenas including through GATT and WIPO. The Korea-US FTA, represents a new step in this process...

Korean human rights and other civil society groups point to the lack of fair use provisions and the chilling effect this will have on the development of knowledge sharing tools, critical discussion, artistic expression and education. They also are concerned about the great potential for abuse: These provisions can be easily invoked by authorities to justify surveillance and outright censorship on political, cultural and social grounds. Memories of such a society are still fresh. Koreans fought hard to free themselves from long decades of authoritarian rule (much of which was at least indirectly US-supported), establishing one of the worlds most vibrant democracies. Human rights violations were common and severe as recently as 1992, though human rights and freedoms are now largely guaranteed. Civil society groups say they are not about to let US commercial interests open the doors for a new authoritarianism.

The Korean Alliance Against the Korea-U.S. FTA and social organizations call for international solidarity activities to stop this US FTA. They will hold a press conference about the problem of IPR chapter of Korea US FTA on May 28th. They welcome your critical opinions or statements on this IP chapter of Korea US FTA. Please send your comments and share this information with people world-wide.

The agreement is to be formally signed in June. The National Assembly is considering holding a parliamentary hearing in July or August on the free trade deal after the signing of the agreement, and both sides are considering re-negotiations on some points."

Most UK CCTVs illegal

According to the Times,

90 per cent of Britain’s 14.2 million closed-circuit television cameras may be failing to comply with the law.

A new national advisory body for the industry, CameraWatch, which has the backing of the police and the Information Commissioner’s Office, claimed yesterday that the vast majority of CCTV is used incorrectly and could potentially be inadmissable in court.

The organisation’s chairman, Gordon Ferrie, the international head of security for RBS and a former director of the fraud squad in Strathclyde, said that the dangers were pressing given the growth in the industry.

“Our research shows that up to 90 per cent of CCTV installations fail to comply with the Information Commissioner’s UK CCTV code of practice, and many installations are operated illegally. That has profound implications for the reputation of the CCTV and camera surveillance industry and all concerned with it.”...

CameraWatch, a non-profit-making independent body, maintains that most CCTV cameras in public areas breach the Data Protection Act and, in some cases, the Human Rights Act. The Data Protection Act is breached in several common ways. The most frequent is the failure to keep camera tapes secure. Under the Act, human images should be treated as confidential information in the same way as names, addresses and phone numbers."

Who will google Google?

From Eoin O'Dell (via Steve Hedley's Cyberlaw EU list), Who will google Google?

"The Roman poet Juvenal asked Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (who will watch the watchers?). In a similar vein, one of Elvis Costello’s more acidic songs of loss is ‘Watching the Detectives’ (lyrics | lyrics with images | YouTube). If Google is the search engine which does (most of) our detecting for us, one of the animating questions of the moment is who is watching the Google detective on our behalf? One answer is provided by Article 29 of Directive 95/46/EC (also here) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data.

This is the EU Data Protection Directive, and it is a major plank in the data protection strand of the EU’s information society policy. It has been implemented in Ireland by the Data Protection (Amendment) Act, 2003 (also here) amending the Data Protection Act, 1988 (also here)). Article 29 of the Directive provides for the establishment of a Working Party on the Protection of Individuals with regard to the Processing of Personal Data. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so it’s usually simply called either the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party or even the Article 29 Working Party. It is composed of a representative from each of the EU member states’ data protection authorities (the Irish member is the the Data Protection Commissioner), and of various EU representatives. It is one of many such official and quasi-official data privacy watchdogs; the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) had already founded the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (IWGDPT) in 1983. This all might seem more than a bit arcane, except that the Article 29 Working Group is in the news this weekend, as the detective watching Google."

The Article 29 working party has been aound for a while and doing some useful work e.g. in relation to data protection, data retention and PNR passenger data sharing with the US. As Eoin says, it was nice to see it getting a bit of publicity at the weekend.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Forgetting digitally

Whilst I'm catching up with ARCH's terrific blog I should point to this post.

"A major drawback of the increasing surveillance of children is that CCTV, tracking devices and databases don’t know when to turn a blind eye - a skill that parents and teachers develop to an advanced level.

When data, risk-assessments and in-depth profiles of a child can be stored indefinitely, that drawback becomes a major problem. Does anyone really want to remember their every childhood misdeed? Those little acts of spitefulness or dishonesty, the episodes of shame or pain? Part of our growth into adulthood is about constructing a version of ourselves that we can live with. Time helps us to bury grim or embarrassing memories, or at least sand the splinters off them, so that we can write ourselves a reasonably coherent and manageable autobiography. While some may brave rigorous self-analysis, for most of us there can be such a thing as too much truth.

If computers don’t forget, and they contain enough data to chatter people’s childhoods back to them years later, how will anybody cope with that? What about the person with unbearable memories, or the one who passed through a period of complete delinquency? Sometimes reinventing oneself is a survival tactic, or a chance to clean the slate and start again.

And as if that’s not enough, there’s all the stuff that children themselves put on blogs or My Space. Would you really want to see the lovesick letter you posted to the ‘Take That’ fan club message board ever again? There might come a time when the press would want to, though, or an employer, or someone who hated you.

Quite honestly, building forgetfulness into computers sounds like a very healthy idea to me."

Steeped in DNA

From ARCH Steeped in DNA. More than 100,000 young folks are now on the national DNA database. Based on Home Office figures, the GeneWatch UK and ARCH folks say (I hope they don't mind me quoting them in full):

"GeneWatch UK and Action on Rights for Children calculate that the National DNA Database contains the records of at least 100,000 children and young people who have not committed any criminal offence(1). In the past year alone, more than 80,000 innocent children and young people were arrested in England and Wales and added to the database.

“Anyone with access to the DNA Database can use these children’s DNA profiles to trace where they have been, or who they are related to”, said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK. “Do we really trust the Home Office not to misuse this information and to safeguard it from others who may want to infiltrate the system?”

Terri Dowty, Director of Action on Rights for Children said:

“These are shocking statistics. These children will be on the database for the rest of their lives. This means that whenever their DNA is found at a crime scene, they will have to be prepared to justify themselves. We are turning thousands of innocent children into lifelong suspects.”

DNA can be taken without consent from anyone aged ten or above, on arrest for most offences. The computerised DNA profiles and original DNA samples are kept permanently, even if the individual is never charged or is acquitted. Since 2006, all police records of arrest have been kept permanently, linked to an individual’s DNA and fingerprint records. Britain’s National DNA Database is now the largest in the world and around 1 million people on the computer database have not been convicted of any offence (2). England and Wales are the only countries in the world which keep DNA profiles and samples from innocent people and those convicted of minor offences for life (3). The permanent retention of records on innocent people is unprecedented in British history.

Terri Dowty said: “For the past year, we have been trying to get accurate figures from the Home Office for the number of children on the database, but now that we can see the scale of what has been going on, it might explain why they are so reluctant to supply them. It seems that all the accusations that the government is building the DNA database by stealth are fully justified.”

“As the Database expands, the risk increases that it will be abused. Governments and criminals may both be tempted to use the DNA profiles it contains to track innocent people or their relatives, or reveal private information such as non-paternity”, said Dr Wallace. “Security breaches can occur when the DNA is collected, at the labs that analyse it, or in the computer system. There are no legal safeguards to prevent misuse by this or future governments”.

Concerns about the DNA Database include (4):

· An enormous increase in the power of governments to track an individual or their relatives using their DNA, or to reveal private information about their health.

· Significant potential for others – including organised criminals – to infiltrate the system and abuse it, for example by using it to reveal post-adoption identities, and the whereabouts of those escaping domestic violence or on witness protection schemes.

· A significant erosion of children’s rights to privacy and freedom of movement.

· The labelling of young people as ‘criminal’ who have not committed any offence, or who have committed a one-off, minor offence.

· The implications of plans to allow law enforcement agencies in other European Union countries access to the Database or to information held on it, including the DNA profiles of innocent children.

The rapid expansion in the number of people on the Database has not increased crime detection rates and keeping computerised DNA profiles and DNA samples permanently from so many people is not a cost-effective way to tackle crime.

GeneWatch UK and Action on Rights for Children believe that only those convicted of serious, violent offences should have their records kept permanently on the National DNA Database, and that stringent safeguards are needed to prevent misuse.

For further information contact:

Helen Wallace (GeneWatch UK): 01298-24300 (office); 07903-311584 (mobile).

Terri Dowty (Action on Rights for Children): 0208-558-9317 (office); 07929-607219 (mobile)

(1) The briefing “How many innocent children are being added to the National DNA Database?” is available on: .

(2) Parliamentary Question. House of Commons Hansard. 11 Dec 2006 : Column 829W.

(3) The law was also changed to allow permanent retention of DNA from everyone arrested for a recordable offence in Northern Ireland, but in practice this policy has yet to be implemented. The Scottish Parliament rejected proposals for the permanent retention of DNA from innocent people in 2006.

(4) GeneWatch UK and Action on Rights for Children’s submissions to the Home Office inquiry “A surveillance society?”, April 2007. Available on: and "

Pull apart the government's cukoo's nest

Henry Porter was on song yesterday with a call to arms against the apathy the UK population has shown in the face of the systematic dismantling of civil liberites by New Labour over the past ten years.

"Of far greater importance is the news that the DNA of 100,000 teenagers - many of them guilty of no crime - has been taken and stored on the police national database. They will be on it for the rest of their lives and have no rights over how their DNA is used and, like the rest of us, cannot predict what genetic science will eventually tell the authorities about them. Can anyone seriously doubt that this is a fundamental breach of privacy and is contrary to the spirit of any code of rights ever written?

What makes our apathy so striking is that even police officers are beginning to speak out about the state we're creating. Ian Readhead, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers data protection group, warned that we were moving to an 'Orwellian situation' with cameras being installed in peaceful villages such as Stockbridge in Hampshire. Mr Readhead, also deputy chief constable of Hampshire, said if the spread of cameras continued, Britain would not be a country he would want to live in.

His comments followed those by the acting chief constable of Suffolk, Colin Langham-Fitt, who criticised the growth of CCTV and the government's ID card scheme. If these officers are expressing concern, we can safely conclude that it is time for us to show something more than the bovine compliance of the last few years.

The issue of surveillance and databases is crucial to our future, to our children's future, and the maintenance of sound and transparent democracy. The more information we allow government about our movements and our lives, the more power we give up to a centralised authority which will, as night follows day, become ever more shielded from proper scrutiny...

It is our fears, lack of rigour and laziness which have led us to this pass."

OII ID Management forum

The Oxford Internet Institute are running an event on ID management next week. Stefan Brands is speaking along with other notables and has produced a short position paper. He notes that governments round the world are interested in online service delivery and cross departmental sharing which require identity management systems. In addition he notes that those systems currently available from the leading industry players would be highly inappropriate for the business of government and managing the identity of citizens. Adopting such - basically centralised - systems on a society wide scale, he says "is not only in conflict with the principles of data protection legislation: it would have unprecedented repercusions for civil liberties and democracy... In the context of identity management, security and privacy are not opposites but mutually reinforcing, asssuming identity technologies are deployed that provide multi-party security."

George Lucas would like you to work for him... for free

Randy Barnett at the Volokh Conspiracy is not impressed at George Lucas' recent move to enable fans to make video mash ups of the Star Wars films.

"George Lucas, [ruthless] ardent defender of his intellectual so-called property rights, is about to launch a redesigned website providing hundreds of Star Wars™ video clips along with the software to create mashups...

...the fan-created videos will run along with commercials "with Lucasfilm and Eyespot splitting the proceeds." Asked about why Lucasfilm will allow this use of their images, a spokesman said, "If someone wants to commercialize it, that's where we've drawn the line." So it's OK for Lucasfilm to commercialize the creative efforts of Star Wars ™fans, but not the other way around.

But the laugh is really going to be on Lucasfilm because, as we all know, people won't invest scarce time producing creative works that others want to watch without the financial incentives provided by intellectual "property" rights granted for "limited times" (i.e. in perpetuity). So it is safe to predict that no one will contribute any mashups to the new website. Boy, will that be embarrassing for them!"

The commons and emergent democracy

David Bollier had a interesting essay in a recent edition of Greek online journal Re-public (“Re-imagining Democracy”), The commons and emergent democracy devoted to wiki-politics.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that the conventional, centralized institutions of the 20th Century are ill-equipped to meet the complex challenges of our time. They are just too slow, bureaucratic, secretive, politically compromised and/or unresponsive. Meanwhile, we are witnessing the rise of all sorts of distributed online networks that are proving to be highly efficient, versatile and reliable. Wikis, social networking websites, blogs, streaming video websites, podcasts and other innovations are changing how we learn, form social relationships and create culture. They are substituting “social production” for commercial transactions. They are generating new forms of political power and institutional authority.

This raises the tantalizing question, Can the new online technologies of cooperation usher in a new type of “wiki politics” and governance? "

The May issue of Re-public also has a collection of sequels on the subject like Jonah Bossewitch's The ZyprexaKills campaign: Peer production and the frontiers of radical pedagogy, where he "tells the story of the participatory campaign against blockbuster antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, suggesting that participatory culture might give to way to participatory democracy, and highlighting how collaborative technologies can play a leading role in radical actions."

Highly recommended.

Are our lives safe in their hands?

Victoria Macdonald in the New Statesman Are our lives safe in their hands?

"The Stasi was relentless in its pursuit of data collection, despite its lack of decent technology. The everyday details of the country's citizens were instead logged meticulously by pen on paper. In the 21st century, the UK government is equally obsessed with charting our lives, from the pills we take to the type of sex we have. But it has one massive modern-day advantage over the east Germans - computers.

From biometric passports, to national ID cards, to an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau, the data is - or will be - all stored for use by one authority or another that needs to know, or just wants to know, what we are up to. And it will all be accessible by thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of people...

This is not about rejecting progress. It is instead quite simply and fundamentally about security; it is in essence a plea that as society's reliance on computer technology moves inexorably forward, there should be some sort of guarantee that our personal details will be safely stored and protected."

Politics and civil liberties

It is somewhat pleasing to see the Conservatives stepping forward to beat the government with the civil liberties stick, though I don't expect it to have any substance beyond the usual points scoring. What is potentially telling is that Davis, Cameron and co. now think they can publicly decry the government's record on civil rights, presumably because some Tory spin doctor believes the standard New Labour rhetoric on the issue - be scared so we can protect you - is so wasted.

" As Tony Blair reflects on his legacy, Taking Liberties, a film released on 8 June, documents how New Labour has undermined our ancient British freedoms over the past decade.

The Government says the rules of the game have changed: the terrorist threat has escalated and we must trade some freedom for our security. That assessment is superficial. New Labour has undermined our freedoms, but the most damning indictment is the liberty taken with our security in the process. Each shortcut the Government takes with our freedoms masks a shortcoming in its counter-terrorism strategy."

Politicians bought and sold

John suggests we should follow the money if we want to predict/understand how US politicians vote on the issues. And thanks to the Net facilitating such wonders as and Open Secrets it's now easier than ever before.