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Archive for the ‘Data Law’ Category

New Law Outlaws “Revenge Porn”

February 12, 2015 by Kelly No Comments »

A new law in England and Wales has made it illegal to post images and videos of a type that has become known as “revenge porn.” This phrase refers to explicit images and videos taken by or given to a partner for personal use, but which that partner posts online after a breakup without the permission of the person depicted.

Some existing laws already had the potential to be used to prosecute revenge porn, but often legal action has not been taken in relation to such incidents. Now, the act of posting these images or videos online without the permission of the former partner involved has been made a specific criminal offence in England and Wales, and it is hoped that this will lead to greater numbers of successful prosecutions against perpetrators.

The concept of revenge porn is not entirely new, though the phrase has only recently been coined. In the past, there have been reports of exes sending explicit photos to pornographic magazines without the permission of the subject, or simply posting copies through the doors of friends and family to humiliate their former partners. However, advancing technology has amplified the problem in recent years.

The internet and its bustling market for user-uploaded videos and images has made it easier for people to share images of former partners, and has meant that they can now potentially be shared on a worldwide scale. As such, the problem of revenge porn has become bigger and more widespread, and websites have sprung up that are entirely devoted to sharing this kind of material. Social media has also made things easier for those vengeful exes who choose to share images with their immediate social circle and beyond.

At the same time, technologies such as digital photography and, in particular, the advent of smartphones with good-quality cameras have made it easier to create explicit images and to share them with a partner. Once people needed a dedicated camera and, unless they were content with a small Polaroid image, had to worry about where to get such a photo developed. Now, photos and even videos can now be captured digitally on a device that most people keep to hand at all times, and which is able to upload directly to the internet if the owner chooses.

The new law covers distribution offline as well as over the internet, including distribution of physical copies of the image. It covers any images “which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public” and which have been shared without the permission of the subject with the intention of causing harm.

The Scottish Government says that it plans to consult on the possibility of introducing a similar law in Scotland. The Northern Irish Department for Justice emphasises that revenge porn is illegal under existing laws, but also intends to consider the case for making it a specific offence.


Legal Professionals Call for Better Protection From State Surveillance

January 20, 2015 by Kelly No Comments »

Two major professional bodies in the legal industry, the Bar Council and the Law Society, have joined forces with organisations that represent those in industries such as journalism and social work to call for reform in areas of law dealing with the concept of surveillance. In particular, the collection of organisations is calling for better protections to be introduced against surveillance by the state.

The organisations have formed a coalition under the name Professionals for Information privacy. As well as the two legal industry bodies, this coalition includes the National union of Journalists and the British Association of Social Workers.

Yesterday, this coalition released a statement in which they called for stricter controls on the monitoring of communications between professionals and their clientele by state bodies. In this statement, the coalition claims that the current laws dealing with issues of surveillance are “complex and confusing and have been laid down in numerous, badly drafted pieces of legislation, codes and guidance.”

The statement claims that there have been too many instances of legislation dealing with data, communications and surveillance issues being hurried through parliament under the banner of emergency legislation. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 is cited as the most recent example of this. Passing so much legislation in this rushed manner has, the coalition says, “undermined parliamentary scrutiny and democratic debate.”

The timing of the statement was pointed, as it coincided with the last day for responses to a major government consultation dealing with this aspect of law. Specifically, the government has been consulting on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and the codes of practice that are contained therein.

In their statement, the coalition says: “we have come together to call for the existing problems to be addressed in the various reviews still underway.” The organisations that make up the coalition are calling for access to the data held by professionals about their clients should benefit from legal protection, and that there should be oversight for this from independent judicial bodies. The coalition feels that “using codes of practice – such as the draft code under RIPA – undermines the rule of law.”

President of the Law Society Andrew Caplen emphasised the importance of clients being able to completely trust legal professionals and deal with them in confidence. If this is not the case, he said, “the rule of law and the administration of justice are undermined,” in a society where the innocent rely on legal advice for protection and businesses rely on legal advice to “[oil] the wheels of commerce.”


David Miranda in Legal Challenge over seized data

August 21, 2013 by admin No Comments »

Legal action is being brought against the police by David Miranda, the man who was detained for a nine hour period at Heathrow this Sunday, in order to prevent electronic personal items from being examined. Miranda was detained under provisions of the Terrorism Act and also happens to be the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald who works for the Guardian. The legal representatives of Mr Miranda have released a statement saying that the legality of the detention is what is being challenged on his behalf.

The Home Office was quick to comment on the situation supporting the detention of Mr Miranda by stating that the police are to act urgently if they have reasons to believe that a person may be in possession of information which can be used to assist terrorism. The Metropolitan Police commissioner as well as the home secretary have received a letter written by representatives from Bindmans seeking an assurance that Mr Miranda’s property will not be inspected, copied, transferred, disclosed or interfered with in any way prior to Mr Miranda’s claim being resolved.

The holding in detention of the 28 year old man has been widely disapproved of across senior political figures in Britain and Brazil as well as human rights groups. David Anderson QC who is the independent reviewer of terrorism law for the United Kingdom has described the time which Mr Miranda was detained for as unusual and is due to meet with the authorities to discuss the situation. Mr Miranda, a Brazilian citizen was detained at Heathrow where he was on his way to board a flight back to Brazil where he resides with his partner. The man was held under the authority of schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which provides the police to question the suspect for up to a period of 9 hours in relation to any acts of terrorism.

The journalist has been heavily involved in breaking stories regarding Edward Snowden and his leaks which have made state surveillance a hot topic in the media in recent weeks. The police authorities however stand by the detention and justify it as being legal as per the Terrorism Act. A representative from the Home Office made a statement in which they said that the police as well as the government are duty bound to ensure the safety and security of the public and the nation.


How law abiding are our government agencies?

June 11, 2013 by admin No Comments »

Edward Snowden, a former CIA officer has claimed that US security agencies shared and exchanged online data and phone records with the UK security agencies. William Hague has not however clarified whether the UK has had access to a US programme, Prism. Prism is said to provide America’s National Security Agency and the FBI with access to top online companies including, Google, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and many more. The companies have however denied giving access to the US government.

Mr Hague said “It has been suggested that GCHQ uses our partnership with the United States to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the United Kingdom. I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless.” He added that the people of the UK should still have confidence in the security agencies and “their adherence to the law and democratic values”.

He did however state that the exchange of information between the allies was “essential to the security of the country” and also that it had “saved many lives”.

The information gathered from the US regarding people of the UK was “subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards”, added Mr Hague.

“Our intelligence-sharing work with the United States is subject to ministerial and independent oversight and to scrutiny by the Intelligence and Security Committee. Our agencies practise and uphold UK law at all times, even when dealing with information from outside the United Kingdom.”

Mr Snowden has been identified by the Guardian newspaper as the main source of leaks of US security programmes. However the issue of surveillance has been addressed previously by the Prime Minister at an event in Essex. Mr Cameron said that UK security agencies were under proper scrutiny and “That scrutiny is important and I will make sure that it takes place.” “I’m satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastic job to keep us safe and operate within the law”, he then added.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander has argued in Parliament that the British people need to be assured that “government agencies are law abiding”. Several points of views have been put forward by other government officials and MPs; however it is yet to be confirmed as to whether government security agencies can actually scoop up information about its citizens.