Tag Archives: cyberlaw

Smart people sign up for Smart Cities event

I’m delighted to share news of a two-day workshop on “Designing Smart Cities – opportunities and regulatory challenges” at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) later this year (31st March/1st April).

The event takes place at Strathclyde’s spectacular new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC). I’ve been watching this building rise over the last few years (I regularly attend an exam board across the road from it), and I’m sure I won’t be the only one looking forward to seeing what they have done with the place.

There are some excellent speakers lined up.  (And when they’re all done, I’ll speak too). Smart cities is a topic that attracts a lot of interest and equal amounts of enthusiasm and cynicism (see for instance this recent Guardian series). Unsurprisingly, the speakers and topics are drawn from a very wide range of disciplines. Here’s a list of the things you are likely to hear about:

  • What are Smart Cities? Local and international perspectives.
  • Comparative International Perspectives: considering differences between developing & developed nation projects
  • Policing and privacy in smart cities: looking at ambient public space monitoring, public engagement & algorithmic surveillance
  • Ubiquitous computing, connected data and privacy in the home
  • Future Energy Management and Sustainability: considering implications of smart grids & metering e.g. climate change, privacy
  • Intelligent Built Environments & Urban Living: the role of big data in planning & design; growth of adaptive architecture e.g. buildings changing due to biometric inputs
  • Smart transport Infrastructure: aspects of intelligent roads and autonomous cars
  • Creative Smart Cities: issues such as ambient public art
  • Play through sports e.g. marathons; large scale events like Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014

I’m particularly excited at the opportunity to hear a number of excellent speakers in person for the first time, including David Murakami Wood (Canadian-based expert on surveillance – and Newcastle graduate!), and Maynooth’s Rob Kitchin (a leading Irish geographer who ran the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis and is working more and more on questions of data). The event is put together by Strathclyde’s professor of Internet law, Lilian Edwards.

Registration is currently free. Many of the events I’ve seen advertised on this topic are clearly targeted at those with very deep pockets; like so many emerging areas, it can seem that the expertise is only available at a high price. Sponsorship of this event allows for free registration, subject to availability. You can register at this link. Places are limited.

Games and gambling

Two pieces of mine have recently appeared in online law journals. They are available without charge or login from the journals concerned; both journals are open access journals. You can also download the articles from SSRN.

The first article emerges out of the CREATe project on games, transmedia and the law. Along with my UEA friends Dr. Keith M. Johnston and Dr. Tom Phillips, I have been thinking about legal and business issues in and around the games industry, with a particular interest in new and emerging business models. This particular piece, “Multiplayer Games: Tax, Copyright, Consumers and the Video Game Industries” (European Journal of Law and Technology | SSRN) is a discussion of the impact of legal measures in each of the three cited fields.

The successes of the games industry requires an analysis of the way in which the state is influencing, or attempting to influence, the development of the sector. Drawing from a research project on games, transmedia and the law, including a roundtable with developers and others from the industry, a critical perspective is provided on the impact of three types of law (tax, consumer and intellectual property) on the UK industry. The negotiation and eventual approval of a tax credit for video game development expenditure is reviewed. This is an example of the games industry lobbying for and welcoming the creation of a specific (but film-influenced) legal status for the “video game” – but the passage of the scheme raises troubling questions about the cultural status of games. A significant commercial issue, that of consumer protection, is then discussed. Consumer legislation may prove to constrain certain developments in relation to games; it is argued that there is a special impact on new platforms, because of the (deserved) official attention now being paid to in-app purchases. In relation to intellectual property, the alignment (or misalignment) of copyright law with concepts of value in the sector is considered, with particular reference to “cloning”. In conclusion, the particular impact of the three fields on new platforms, and the different degrees to which legislation is contributing to the development of the games sector, is considered. It is argued that the emerging business model of F2P non-console games is not handled as well as it should be, particularly as compared with other business models in the sector.

The second, shorter piece is an update for the law and technology journal SCRIPTed on recent developments in online gambling law. I discuss two particular developments: a significant retreat from the ‘deregulatory’ Gambling Act in Great Britain (amended to provide for greater control over foreign providers advertising or doing business in the UK), and a further step in the EU’s attempt to get to grips with the field – a Recommendation from the European Commission. The piece is “When The Dealin’s Done? Recent Developments in Online Gambling Law and Policy” (SCRIPTed | SSRN) and, to my great delight, was submitted on Kenny Rogers’ 68th birthday.

 

Blame it all on my roots

This month has seen two very different stories about emergency legislation emerge on either side of the Irish Sea. Here follows the results of my ruminating on the stories (my word of the week after seeing a professorship in non-ruminant science advertised).

In the UK, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (“DRIP”) Bill is before the House of Commons today.  After a debate on timing, at lunchtime today, it was agreed that all ‘stages’ be taken today. (Normally, legislation gets a broad second stage debate, consideration over a longer period (line by line) in a committee, and a final Commons stage).  It’s due before the House of Lords tomorrow.  Given the strong support for the truncated timing given by MPs earlier today (only 50 or so voted against), it’s very likely that the Commons will say yes – what the Lords make of it is to be seen.

I signed a letter about this legislation, which has provoked some interesting coverage (e.g. here, here and here).  I think that the Government is making a mistake in how it’s handling this legislation. It’s well known that the Court of Justice of the European Union found the Data Retention Directive invalid as a matter of EU law in April.  As Judith Rauhofer and I pointed out in our editorial (see part 4), this raised significant questions for the future of national measures adopted on the basis of it, as well as similar replacement measures. The CJEU declared the Directive invalid immediately and also made important points about what safeguards were required as a matter of EU law, including human rights.

Now this could have been a good opportunity for sober consideration of how to draft a new scheme, compatible with EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights, and informed by the engaging public debate on surveillance, security and technology. But readopting the bulk of the EU measure (without necessarily restoring lawfulness), along with some separate ‘clarifications’ (which may have merit in themselves or at least be the basis for further debate), is not a way for Government to establish and defend the legitimacy of data retention and surveillance. It’s inadvisable that this be construed as an emergency.  It’s clearly a matter of national importance and I do see the significance of the arguments put forward on the need to have a well-regulated system of intelligence and investigation. And something did have to be done after the CJEU’s decision – doing nothing would be, in my view, still a mistake.

But after the last few years of Snowden, the NSA, Wikileaks, well-founded fears about technological development and all that, now is the time to build support and trust. (The sad thing is that for a lot of people who don’t follow Parliament closely, they are paying attention today and not really seeing democratic deliberation at its best).  Today hasn’t achieved the goal of establishing trust and legitimacy, and I’d encourage readers to contact members of Parliament (especially the House of Lords) asking for a proper, careful debate.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, emergency legislation was one of the many proposals put forward to deal with a licensing decision (under the Planning & Development Acts – see part XVI) by Dublin City Council. The decision was significant because it pertained to proposed concerts by Garth Brooks. Promoters had already sold tickets (“subject to licence”) for five concerts at Croke Park (the largest stadium in the city), but the local authority only granted a licence for three.  (The full reasoned decision is published here).

One point that seemed to annoy some people was the inability of elected representatives to override this decision. A fair point, if one disregards the sorry history of planning corruption in Ireland and the need to apply the law in a consistent and transparent fashion. So with that in mind, ‘emergency legislation’ was proposed (one Bill was even drafted by an opposition member of the Dáil). Again, I’m not saying that the law is perfect – the controversy has highlighted some areas for procedural change in particular (I taught a course on entertainment law last year – and hereby offer my free services to any official body in Ireland that wants some suggestions).  Nor am I unsympathetic to the disappointed ticket-buyers (not least because, having been a teenager in 1990s Ireland, I truly understand that he has a serious fan base – in my day, local radio playlisters first and foremost). But for a licensing system to have credibility, responsible authorities have to be able to say no as well as yes; the sale of tickets for what is at the time an unlicensed event shouldn’t affect this. So while it can be tempting to call for a new law, that also deserves proper consideration – of models from other jurisdictions, for example.

Fortunately, despite a lot of posturing, the Irish parliament didn’t go down that route, and it looks like the concerts aren’t happening at all.  Here are some interesting things to read on the topic: Fergal Davis, Rebecca Moynihan & Jane Horgan-Jones, Gene Kerrigan.

Open letter from UK legal academics on surveillance

Full text also available at Slideshare and for download as PDF.

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

Open access to 2013 work

Open access versions of a couple of my 2013/4 publications and talks have recently been made available through the University of Edinburgh. These versions are the best possible permitted under the terms of the relevant publishers –  peer reviewed but not fully formatted for (print) publication in the journal in question. They are accessible without registration or charge to all.

Earlier publications continue to be available via my SSRN page without a need for a subscription, in various forms.

I’ll try and put all of this in one place soon!