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  1. Businesses are becoming exasperated at the lack of progress in Brexit talks and are pausing or cancelling investment in the UK. Nicole Sykes, head of EU negotiations at the CBI Businesses are becoming exasperated at the lack of progress in Brexit talks and are pausing or cancelling investment in the UK. A week that many had hoped would bring progress in the talks has now come and gone without a breakthrough. Employers group the CBI says 80% of surveyed members feel Brexit uncertainty has already had a negative impact on investment decisions. On Friday, Theresa May held a conference call with 150 top bosses. She wanted to reassure them that she was still confident of striking a deal and that she recognised their concerns. The chief executive of one company on the call told the BBC the PM had "done a good job and had a reassuring tone" while another said there had been "nothing new in her message". Of the members surveyed by the CBI, 39% said they would trigger additional contingency plans if there was no further clarity by November, while a further 19% said it was already too late. Nicole Sykes, the CBI's head of EU negotiations, says the situation is urgent, pointing to concrete examples of cancelled projects: "We heard from a fashion house that wanted to set up a new factory in the UK. £50m of investment, cancelled. "But we're also talking about some small things. We heard from a Northern Ireland farmer who wanted to build a new machine to make their operations more efficient, grow competitive. Again, that's been cancelled. So we really are talking about real economic consequences." Despite the PM's attempts to calm nerves, many businesses are in the process of stepping up their preparations for leaving the EU without a deal at the end of March next year. Transportation worries Supermarket executives told the BBC they were weighing up the viability of flying in fresh food from outside the EU to avoid potential log jams at the ports like Dover. Different companies reached different conclusions. One said: "We haven't started chartering aircraft yet but we are looking at it. We are very worried about Dover so we are also looking at alternative ports like Felixstowe as an alternative." Another major supermarket executive said that air freight isn't the answer: "There simply isn't the capacity at a moment when every other industry will be trying to do the same thing." However, they felt that the problem is potentially so severe that they do not believe it will come to that. "There is no way the UK or EU would allow the UK to run out of food, but we are looking at alternative ways to transport fresh food, as stockpiling is not an option." The car industry is also very sensitive to supply chain hold-ups. Industry body the SMMT described the lack of progress in talks as hugely disappointing and said it had "grave concerns". Car makers are looking at alternative ports, increased warehousing and moving the supply of some parts outside the UK. BMW has already brought forward an annual shutdown of Mini production to coincide with the UK's departure from the EU, while Jaguar Land Rover has warned of the potential loss of tens of thousands of UK jobs. It's not just business which is pessimistic about a deal being struck in time. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox this week reiterated his prediction that a no deal scenario was more likely than not. "I've said that the chance of a no deal is 60% and I'm not changing that view," he said. He also told a gathering of business leaders this week that great opportunities in international trade await the UK outside the EU. Most of the audience that night will hope he got the first bit wrong. Source
  2. Slams Home Office's lack of engagement with privacy fears The UK Home Office's alleged indifference towards civil rights groups' concerns over the creation of a mammoth policing database has caused Liberty to ditch the government-run consultation group on the project. The Home Office is planning to replace the creaky Police National Computer (PNC) and Police National Database (PND) with a Law Enforcement Data Service (LEDS) as part of its National Law Enforcement Data Programme. Once this is complete, the PNC and PND will be switched off. Eventually other datasets, including biometrics, ANPR records and images held on passports will be introduced. The first stage of the project – which The Register understands is due to be rolled out in spring 2019 – is hugely complex. It will create a huge single resource for police that the government hopes will allow forces to make better use of data-driven technologies, and brings with it a wealth of privacy and security concerns. In recognition of that, the government set up a group where civil liberties groups could raise their concerns – but is now under fire for seemingly creating nothing more than a talking shop. Liberty is so disappointed with progress, it no longer wants to be associated with the work and yesterday announced it had written to the Home Office to withdraw. Broadly, Liberty's problems can be split in two: concerns about the project itself – including data retention, sharing and access, and how it will be used with other nascent policing technologies – and on the way the Home Office has, or hasn't, addressed those concerns during the consultation process. It's no surprise the government wants to replace the two existing systems. Departments are under pressure to cut costs, break down silos and replace legacy systems, and the PNC is an obvious target. It was first used in 1974 and, by the Home Office's own admission, still runs on broadly the same technology. On top of that is a cross-government drive to make better use of data and the appeal of glossy PR opportunities as departments embrace new technology. But Liberty's concern is that the public's right to privacy and security are at risk of being trampled in the Home Office's desire for progress. The organisation was one of a handful of civil rights bodies the department was consulting with – ostensibly so the government could listen to and address issues they raised as the project went along. However, after months of little progress, the group has stepped away from the project in frustration – and to ensure their participation was not mischaracterised as tacit approval in the long run. Advocacy and policy officer Hannah Couchman said the rights groups raised the same issues repeatedly, but they were never meaningfully addressed. If the Home Office didn't engage and act on their concerns, she told The Reg that the consultation amounted to little more than a "fig leaf" for the project, and called into question how seriously these concerns were taken. Moreover, the group reported being prevented from discussing certain key issues, such as how the LEDS would interact with the wider police tech infrastructure. The cops' eagerness to embrace new tech without legal or policy frameworks has already raised eyebrows with the biometrics commissioner, and a particular concern is automated facial recognition In particular, LEDS will have facial searching capabilities, and Liberty wanted to discuss how it would work with controversial automated facial recognition technology – but was told the topic was off the table. "LEDS cannot be considered in a vacuum," Couchman said. To do so ignores the fact that combining technologies has a cumulative effect on society's human rights; and that collating seemingly innocuous pieces of information can build up a detailed and intrusive profile of a person. Similarly, Couchman is yet to be convinced by the Home Office's promises to wipe the new database of information that shouldn't be there. At the moment, the government retains photos of people held in police custody who haven't been convicted – despite this practice being ruled unlawful – on the basis that its computer systems don’t support automatic removal. In its biometrics strategy, published this summer after more than a five-year delay, the department said LEDS would "enable more efficient review and where appropriate, automatic deletion of custody images". But rather than using the database merger as an opportunity to strip its systems of information it has no right to hang on to, or to review retention policies, the Home Office is intending to bring it all across. Again, Couchman feels that any momentum to fix data retention has been trumped by the urge to create a potentially headline-winning super-database. One of the problems is that the government hasn't provided the civil rights groups with sufficient information on how it will go about reviewing retention. There is a similar lack of clarity on how other non-policing organisations can get access to the data held in LEDS. The government has said they can submit a "business case" to a panel of police representatives – but hasn't specified the conditions on which this will be assessed. Another concern is the government's admission that the creation of LEDS will give users access to more data – in both volume and type – and that some would be able to access a "a greater-than-appropriate level of data for their individual role or organisation", according to its Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). Couchman said that this might include external data analysts involved in ensuring that LEDS is working, and that although the government had talked about setting up clearances, it had not given "the level of detail we'd expect" on plans to safeguard data. "Discussion in the PIA about how access should be granted is very poor," she noted. And it's not as if the Home Office isn't aware of the issues: Couchman said that officials have acknowledged the privacy issues – indeed, many are mentioned in the PIA – but isn't putting sufficient measures in place to address them. "It's frustrating to see them recognise the issues as legitimate, but not prioritise them," she said. This is a common problem for most organisations eager to make the most of new technologies and technical capabilities that are being developed at speed. People's understanding of the risks they pose and the potential unintended consequences of their use struggles to keep up, as do the traditionally slow policy-making process. But for Couchman, this isn't a justification for going ahead regardless – it means projects should be held off until the civil service is capable of providing a workable solution. Until that can happen for LEDS, she said, the whole system remains "dangerous" and rollout should be pushed back. For its part, the Home Office said the PNC and PND are "vital tools" but need replacing as they "are nearing the end of their lives". It added that it was "continuing to engage constructively" with civil rights groups "to ensure the use of personal data is proportionate and respects the privacy of individuals". Source
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    ClipCache Pro 3.6.1 Clipcache Pro is a powerful information gathering tool. ClipCache Pro's rich features have turned it into a tool for gathering and organizing information that is powerful enough for everything from home web-surfing to journalism to academic and commercial research. It is the best utility of its type available - and used by major corporations including IBM, AT&T, Bosch, Cuna Mutual, BankFirst Corp, The Oregonian, The New Haven Register, Basler Electric and the Short Line School. With a single keystroke, it monitors clipboard activity and saves everything you copy. Then you can organise, edit and manipulate your text and images in an amazing variety of ways. Stop capturing with another keystroke. Easy, intelligent capturing - including the source of the clip Easy toggle: turn capturing on or off with a keystroke. You can assign your own hotkey easily Captures both text and images - from web pages or documents Choose your own sound notifications - or none Reliably records the source of your clip by capturing the name of source window - critical for research uses Capture only what you need, with customizable capture options such as ignoring specified programs Operating System: Windows 10/8/7/Vista Home Page: http://www.xrayz.co.uk/clipcache/ Download + key: Site: https://www.upload.eeSharecode: /files/9017737/ClipCache.Pro.3.6.1.rar.html
  4. Stay-at-home Bond types set off the loudest irony klaxon Maybe don't snoop on a charity that makes privacy its priority... UK SPOOKS HAVE FESSED-UP to unlawfully snooping on and sifting through the private data of Privacy International, all thanks to bulk data collection. As part of the MI5's Bulk Communications Data and Bulk Personal Data programmes, supposedly used to detect criminal and terrorist activity, Britain's domestic intelligence agency ended up gathering and perusing Privacy International's private data. And it wasn't the only one, as other UK spook conclaves, GCHQ and MI6, were also found to have collected the charity's data. But all three were forced to admit they'd be carrying out such unlawful data collection as documents were published that revealed Privacy International has been caught up in MI5's investigations due to the charity's data being in the vast databases British intelligence has. Privacy International noted, in a somewhat own trumpet blowing fashion, that this all came to light as part of its legal challenge against bulk data collection powers. Having a look through the case notes ourselves - and bearing in mind we're journalists, not lawyers - it looks like the data held on Privacy International seemed to be more a quirk of bulk data collection as opposed to active spying against Privacy International. Not that such an activity excuses the intelligence services; it arguably demonstrates that bulk data collection isn't a great intelligence gathering technique. Unsurprisingly, Caroline Wilson Palow, general counsel at Privacy International was hardly impressed by the snooping. "Today's revelations are troubling for a whole host of reasons. The UK intelligence agencies' bulk collection of communications data and personal data has been shown to be as vast we have always imagined - it sweeps in almost everyone, including human rights organisations like Privacy International," Palow said. "Not only was Privacy International caught up in the surveillance dragnet, its data was actually examined by agents from the UK's domestic-facing intelligence agency - MI5. We do not know why MI5 reviewed Privacy International's data, but the fact that it happened at all should raise serious questions for all of us. "Should a domestic intelligence agency charged with protecting national security be spying on a human rights organisation based in London? Shouldn't such spying, if permitted at all, be subject to the strictest of safeguards? In an era when human rights and democracy are under threat all over the world, the UK should demonstrate leadership by protecting human rights defenders." Privacy Intentional is now asking for MI5 to clarify why it snooped on the charity, as well as writing an open letter to Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, expressing concern at the snooping and asking him to confirm ht changes he'll make to the Investigatory Powers Act as a result of the European Court of Human Right's judgment against it last week. We approached the Home Office for comment - MI5 doesn't sully itself with the unwashed public directly - but we've yet to get a response. Breaching the privacy of a charity that makes privacy its raison du etre is one of the dumbest things we've heard. And it's dryly amusing that it comes from MI5, which has apparently got a good track record of being pretty decent at intelligence work. As such, we wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the straw that breaks the camel's back when it comes to bulk data collection, as the UK intelligence agencies and government has basically given Privacy International an almighty big stick to brandish at them. Source
  5. MPs in UK say ‘wild west’ cryptocurrency industry is leaving investors vulnerable Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “wild west” assets that expose investors to a litany of risks and are in urgent need of regulation, MPs on the Treasury select committee have said. The committee said in a report that consumers were left unprotected from an unregulated industry that aided money laundering, while the government and regulators “bumble along” and fail to take action. The Conservative MP Nicky Morgan, the chair of the committee, said the current situation was unsustainable. “Bitcoin and other crypto-assets exist in the wild west industry of crypto-assets. This unregulated industry leaves investors facing numerous risks,” Morgan said. “Given the high price volatility, the hacking vulnerability of exchanges and the potential role in money laundering, the Treasury committee strongly believes that regulation should be introduced.” Crypto-assets are not covered by the City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and there are no formal mechanisms for consumer redress or investor compensation. The committee argues in the report that at a minimum, regulation should be introduced to add consumer protection and counter money laundering. It said that as things stood, the price of crypto-assets was so volatile that while potential gains were large, so too were potential losses. “Accordingly, investors should be prepared to lose all their money,” the committee said. The FCA said: “The FCA agrees with the committee’s conclusion that bitcoin and similar crypto-assets are ill-suited to retail investors, and as we have warned in the past, investors in this type of crypto-asset should be prepared to lose all their money.” A Treasury spokesman said: “We set up the joint Cryptoassets Taskforce earlier this year because we want to better understand the potential risks and benefits of crypto-assets to people, businesses, and the economy.” In 2017, the price of a bitcoin soared by more than 900%, hitting a peak of almost $20,000 in December. Its popularity has since waned, with one bitcoin now priced at around $6,270. The digital currency emerged after the financial crisis. It allows people to bypass banks and usual payment processes to pay for goods and services. Last year Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan, said bitcoin was a fraud and only fit for use by drug dealers, murderers and people living in places such as North Korea. He said: “The currency isn’t going to work. You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that people who are buying it are really smart.” The Treasury committee said cryptocurrency exchanges were at increased risk of cyber-attacks, and some retail investors who lost their passwords had found themselves locked out of their accounts permanently. However, it said that if regulated and dealt with properly, the industry could be an opportunity for Britain. CryptoUK, which represents some cryptocurrency companies with operations in Britain, said it welcomed the report. “As an industry we have been calling for the introduction of proportionate regulation to improve standards and encourage growth,” said Iqbal Gandham, the chair of CryptoUK. “Self-regulation by the industry was always intended to be a starting point – this must now be matched by government action.” Source
  6. Bulk data collection revealed by Edward Snowden has been been found to violate privacy rights of UK citizens. The European Court of Human Rights Court Room Mass surveillance and data collection programs used by the UK government breached privacy and don't meet the necessary legal requirements to guarantee rights will be upheld, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled. The court has concluded that the UK's mass interception programmes breached the European Convention on Human Rights. The case of 'Big Brother Watch and Others v the United Kingdom' was launched by privacy and civil liberties groups in the aftermath of the Edward Snowden revelations, which saw the former US National Security Agency contractor blow the whistle on surveillance and intelligence sharing programs run by intelligence services in the United States and the United Kingdom. In what represents its first ruling on UK surveillance programmes, the judgement by the EctHR ruled that the GCHQ bulk interception regime violated Article 8 of the Convention of Human Rights -- the right to respect for private and family/life communications -- by five votes to two. The justification for the ruling states there's "insufficient" oversight on the filtering, search and selection of intercepted communications for examination and that the safeguards were "inadequate". The ruling also states that UK's regime for authorising bulk interception was incapable of keeping the "interference" to what is "necessary in a democratic society". Bulk interception of data was also ruled to violate Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights -- the right to freedom of expression and information -- as there was "were insufficient safeguards in respect of confidential journalistic material". However, the court in Strasbourg also ruled the way GCHQ shared sensitive data with foreign governments not to be illegal, violating neither Article 8 or 10. Nonetheless, the rulings have been welcomed by civil liberties groups. "This is a major victory for the rights and freedom of people in the UK. It shows that there is -- and should be -- a limit to the extent that states can spy on their citizens," said Megan Goulding, lawyer for Liberty "Our government has built a surveillance regime more extreme than that of any other democratic nation, abandoning the very rights and freedoms terrorists want to attack. It can and must give us an effective, targeted system that protects our safety, data security and fundamental rights," she added. Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, said the ruling means the UK government will have to re-evaluate how it goes about collecting data of citizens -- but that the battle is far from over. "The decision should help future challenges because it is the first time that the detail of bulk surveillance programmes has started to be questioned," he told ZDNet. "For the UK government, they will have to think more carefully about how they justify electronic surveillance. Many of the crucial questions are yet to come, but this decision shows how important it is for an external human rights court to have the final word on the UK's approach to privacy and surveillance," he added. While the court acknowledges that it's important that states are able to carry out secret surveillance to counter terrorism and other threats, going too far with this can also represent a threat to the liberty of citizens. "The court could not ignore the fact that surveillance regimes have the potential to be abused, with serious consequences for individual privacy," said an ECHR statement. Those safeguards must take into account the nature of the offences, defining the categories of people liable to having their communications intercepted, a limit on the duration of interception, the procedure used when examining, using and storing data, precautions taken when sharing data with other parties, and the circumstances in which it must be erased or destroyed. Despite the ruling, it may not directly impact on UK surveillance legislation -- because many surveillance rules were updated when the Investigatory Powers Act was introduced in 2016. However, the Court of Appeal -- the highest court in England and Wales -- has previously ruled the act known by critics as the Snoopers' Charter to be unlawful. Despite this, the laws haven't been updated or changed. Nonetheless, Killock said that Prime Minister Theresa May -- who oversaw the introduction of the Investigatory Powers Act as Home Secretary -- should take notice of the ruling. "Theresa May should take close note of the judgment, which is the first step towards restrictions on bulk practices. While the judgment does not attempt to forbid these altogether, it also shows that restrictions, limits and accountability will be a feature of future legal discussions about these laws," he said. Source
  7. Auntie's outage comes on predicted hottest day of the year Screenshot of BBC website returning HTTP 500 The entire BBC website (less iPlayer) went down briefly this morning. Auntie's online offerings, ranging from free online news to telly and radio listings, recipes and educational content for kids, were all briefly offline. All the BBC's sub-sites were throwing up HTTP 500 errors, complete with a nice little graphic of the BBC test card doctored with a burning background. A reference to the scorchio Great British Summer, perhaps? As Reg readers will know, HTTP 500 is the code for an internal server error. The Beeb press office told us they were "aware of this" outage and added: "We're aware that some people are having problems accessing some parts of our website. We’re trying to fix this as soon as possible." We were told it would be back up in "15 minutes or so" around 15 minutes before publishing this, a remarkably accurate prediction. The only other Beeb-flavoured online thing accessible from Vulture Central this morning was iPlayer. Three years ago the BBC's web presences did more or less the same thing. The corporation declined to say what caused it beyond an "internal system failure". We're looking forward to hearing more detailed information this time round. Source
  8. New research has revealed that 60 percent of all UK citizens have used pirate services to stream or download TV, films or music. However, the vast majority of these self-proclaimed pirates say they tend to find legal options first. These and other findings suggest that piracy remains an availability problem and that 'pirates' are among the most engaged consumers. Online piracy is often portrayed as a simple problem. People download or stream something that’s not theirs because they don’t want to pay. While this may apply in some cases, the reality is much more complex. In fact, over the years research has repeatedly shown that pirates are often the entertainment industry’s best customers. Today, there are new findings to back this claim up. And to add some weight, they are released by the London-based anti-piracy company MUSO, which works closely with various copyright holders. The company conducted a survey among 1,000 UK adults, through CitizenMe, to shed more light on how and why pirates consume content the way they do. The findings are noteworthy, to say the least. Of all the people surveyed the vast majority, 60 percent, admitted that they illegally streamed or downloaded music, film or TV-shows in the past. This could have been yesterday or even two years ago. Interestingly, the same pirates often try legal sources first. In fact, 83 percent say they usually try to find what they are looking for through official channels before trying anything else. This suggests that most pirates are also legal consumers. “The entertainment industry tends to envisage piracy audiences as a criminal element, and writes them off as money lost – but they are wrong to do so,” says Paul Briley, CCO of MUSO, commenting on the findings. “The reality is that the majority of people who have gone through the effort of finding and accessing such unlicensed content are, first and foremost, fans – fans who are more often than not trying to get content legally if they can.” The problem appears to be that these pirates often can’t find what they’re looking for through their preferred legal channels. The top reasons for people to ‘pirate’ are that content is not available (34.9%), that it’s siloed or difficult to access (34.7%), or that they can’t afford it (35.2%). MUSO notes that copyright holders should not dismiss the pirate audience as these people are actually engaged and valuable consumers. Instead, the entertainment industries should look for better ways to serve this crowd. In recent years Hollywood has already made a lot of effort to make content available online. And while Netflix and other streaming services have made a positive impact, they’re not a silver bullet. MUSO’s survey reveals that 91% of all pirates already have a streaming subscription, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify or Apple Music. That’s more than their non-pirating counterparts, of which less than 80% subscribe to one of these services. The problem is that people sometimes need over a dozen separate subscriptions to access all the content they want. There’s no single service that offers everything in one place. This is one of the main reasons why piracy is still very relevant. “There is a prevailing myth that streaming services have killed piracy, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case,” Briley notes. “While streaming services have made huge amounts of content more readily available, it’s still siloed. The results of this survey demonstrate that if the show consumers are looking for isn’t available on their particular on-demand service, they will turn to unlicensed alternatives because it is too expensive to subscribe to every single service.” MUSO’s previous research has shown that streaming piracy remains on the rise and this trend could continue going forward, for video at least. It’s also worth mentioning that most pirates know very well that they are not supposed to do so. More than half, 53 percent, said that they think it is wrong to pirate, which is a higher percentage than those who never downloaded or streamed illegally. While people’s reasons to pirate are clear, the solution is not as straightforward. Simply offering all content under one roof might solve the piracy problem, but it doesn’t automatically mean that more revenue will come in. The film industry, in particular, relies heavily on complex rights deals, windowed releases, and exclusivity agreements. And with Disney launching its own streaming service, this may only get worse. Source
  9. Here’s a casualty of the cashless society you might not have previously thought of: the humble street performer. After all, if more of us are paying our way with smartphones and contactless cards, how can we give spare change to musicians on the subway? London has one solution: a new scheme that outfits performers with contactless payment terminals. The project was launched this weekend by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, and is a collaboration with Busk In London (a professional body for buskers) and the Swedish payments firm iZettle (which was bought this month by PayPal for $2.2 billion). A select few performers have been testing iZettle’s contactless readers on the streets for the past few weeks, and Khan now says the scheme will be rolled out across London’s 32 boroughs. Charlotte Campbell, a full-time street performer who was part of the trial, told BBC News that the new tech “had a significant impact on contributions.” Said Campbell: “More people than ever tap-to-donate whilst I sing, and often, when one person does, another follows.” The readers need to be connected to a smartphone or tablet, and accept payments of fixed amounts (set by the individual performer). They work with contactless cards, phones, and even smartwatches. There’s no detail yet on how many readers will be provided to London’s street performers, or whether they will have to pay for the readers themselves. Although individuals do sometimes set up their own contactless payment systems (and in China, it’s not uncommon to see street performers and beggars use QR codes to solicit mobile tips), this seems to be the first scheme of its kind spearheaded by a city authority. “Busking helps emerging artists to hone their talent and gives them the chance to perform in front of huge numbers of people,” said Khan in a press statement. “I’m delighted that iZettle has chosen London to launch this innovative scheme - allowing artists to accept donations by card payment, as well as cash. Now, more Londoners will be able to show their support to the capital’s brilliant, talented street performers.” Although street performers will be able to adapt to this change, it’s also worth thinking about those that won’t, like the homeless. Experts say that if coins and notes disappears from city streets it’ll be yet another barrier that keeps the destitute out of society. If you don’t have a bank account or access to the internet, how are you supposed to live in a world without cash? That’s a question we’ve yet to answer. Source
  10. Blighty will be subject to EU rules, but have no way to influence them IT'S BEEN CONFIRMED that the United Kingdom won't have a say in European artificial intelligence (AI) or data protection rules following Brexit. The European Commission's chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, has shot down the ICO's suggestion that the UK have a seat at the decision-making table after the country leaves the Union. ICO leader Elizabeth Denham told MPs earlier this month that a bespoke data agreement - which would give the UK's data protection agency a continued role in Europe after the UK leaves the Union - would be far superior to a so-called adequacy agreement. Denham said, "At this time when the GDPR is in its infancy, participating in shaping and interpreting the law I think is really important. "And the group of regulators that sit around the table at the EU are the most influential blocs of regulators - and if we're outside of that group and we're an observer we're not going to have the kind of effect that we need to have with big tech companies. Because that's all going to be decided by that group of regulators." Denham added a point long argued by the Remain camp: that the UK will have no say on the standards and regulations implemented in the technology industry, such as for AI, which companies will still have to follow if they hope to trade with the Continent. "The European Data Protection Board will set the weather when it comes to standards for artificial intelligence, for technologies, for regulating big tech," she said. "So we will be a less influential regulator, we will continue to regulate the law and protect UK citizens as we do now, but we won't be at the leading edge of interpreting the GDPR - and we won't be bringing British values to that table if we're not at the table." However, Barnier quashed any hopes of the UK having a seat. Speaking in front of the International Federation for European Law, he suggested that an adequacy decision - which is granted if a non-EU state's laws are in compliance with EU regulations - would be the only thing on that table. Adequacy decisions enable trade and data flows, but do not allow countries to be involved in shaping regulations or laws in Europe. "The United Kingdom decided to leave our harmonised system of decision-making and enforcement," said Barnier. "It must respect the fact that the European Union will continue to work on the basis of this system, which has allowed us to build a single market, and which allows us to deepen our single market in response to new challenges. "And, as indicated in the European Council guidelines, the UK must understand that the only possibility for the EU to protect personal data is through an adequacy decision. It is one thing to be inside the Union, and another to be outside. "Brexit is not, and never will be, in the interest of EU businesses; and it will especially run counter to the interests of our businesses if we abandon our decision-making autonomy. This autonomy allows us to set standards for the whole of the EU, but also to see these standards being replicated around the world. This is the normative power of the Union, or what is often called ‘the Brussels effect'. "And we cannot, and will not, share this decision-making autonomy with a third country, including a former Member State who does not want to be part of the same legal ecosystem as us." With the ICO excluded from any sort of GDPR rulemaking - through which European data protection agencies can work together to coordinate regulatory actions - UK businesses will need to use an alternative agency to act as their lead regulator post-Brexit. Source
  11. UK Internet users are no stranger to website blocking. Many of the world's largest pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay, are inaccessible due to court orders. But does this mean that piracy has been eradicated as well? A look at the most visited websites in the UK suggests that there is still a long way to go. Website blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries. The UK is a leader on this front after the High Court ordered the largest ISPs to block access to popular file-sharing sites. Over time the number of blocked URLs in the UK has grown to well over 1,000, including many popular torrent, streaming, and direct download sites. The Pirate Bay is arguably the biggest target of all. Not only is the site itself blocked by major ISPs, many proxy sites and proxy linking sites are blacklisted as well. The goal of these efforts is to prevent people from accessing the notorious torrent site, but that’s easier said than done. This week, we decided to take a look at the most visited ‘pirate’ sites in the UK. For this quest, we used data from the traffic monitoring company Alexa, which is often cited by copyright holders as well. Despite the blocking efforts, we spotted quite a few pirate sources among the UK’s top sites. As it stands, Pirateproxy.sh tops the list. This Pirate Bay proxy is the 115th most-visited site in the UK, which is good for an estimated fifteen million visits per month. Looking at the list of the 500 most-visited sites in the UK, Pirateproxy.sh is just one of the many Pirate Bay oriented sites. The proxy indexer Unblocked.mx is ranked 227th, for example, while Piratebays.be, Proxybay.bz, Unblocked.lat, Piratebayproxylist.net and Proxyof.com all make an appearance as well. Most surprising, perhaps, is that the regular ThePirateBay.org still gets a decent amount of traffic too, as it’s currently ranked 319th. That’s more popular than in some other countries where there are no ISP restrictions. This traffic comes in part from VPNs. Does this mean that the blockades have no effect at all? No, that’s impossible to conclude based on these observations. What it does show, however, is that there is still plenty of Pirate Bay traffic in the UK, even to the original site. Pirateproxy.sh, for example, is part of the ‘Unblocked‘ team which operates a series of proxies and proxy indexes. Since 2013, they’ve been actively providing people with workarounds for blocked sites and continuously launch new domains when theirs are added to the blocklists. The Unblocked operator believes that while some people may be deterred by the ISP blocks, many are not. “Although the blocks have had the intended effect of blocking popular file-sharing sites, I don’t believe they are effective since users have access to many workarounds to access these sites,” he explains. “For any given blocked site, there will be countless proxy sites available with new domains constantly being created.” Unblocked regularly updates its domains after they are added to the blocklist, which is usually once a month. Just a few weeks ago the main proxy index moved from Unblocked.mx to Unblocked.lat, and that’s probably not the last change. The new domains are accessible for a few weeks, or sometimes months, and if they are blocked, other ones will simply replace them. This is not limited to The Pirate Bay and its proxies either. Looking more closely at the most-visited sites in the UK we see more ‘pirate’ sites, some of which are supposed to be blocked. An overview of the ten most-used pirate sites in the UK is presented below. Some of these will likely be added to the ISP blocklists in the near future, if they aren’t already. However, similar to regular takedown notices and domain seizures, ISPs blockades have also turned into a game of whack-a-mole. — The label “pirate site” applies to sites that have been classified as such by entertainment industry groups. Unblocked.mx already started redirecting to a new domain name. Source
  12. Woman, 61, dies in hospital in north of capital after being admitted with head injuries A 95-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering his carer after a woman died in hospital, police have said. The Metropolitan police said they believed the 61-year-old woman’s injuries were sustained at a residential address in Islington, north London, where she was working as a carer. The London ambulance service was called to the property at 4.15am on Thursday and sent two crews, a spokesman said. “We treated one person at the scene and took them to hospital as a priority,” he added. Police officers were called to a hospital in north London shortly after 7am on Thursday, after the woman was admitted with head injuries. She died shortly before 11am on Friday. The man was bailed and police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. He was taken to hospital as a precaution owing to a pre-existing condition. Police said he would stay there until a place was found where “his complex health and care needs” could be managed. Neither the arrested man nor the victim have been named by Scotland Yard. The woman’s next of kin have been informed and police said a postmortem examination would be carried out. Source
  13. Collective action seeking up to £3.2bn for claims Google bypassed privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser The collective action is being led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd over claims Google bypassed the privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser on iPhones . Google is being sued in the high court for as much as £3.2bn for the alleged “clandestine tracking and collation” of personal information from 4.4 million iPhone users in the UK. The collective action is being led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd over claims Google bypassed the privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser on iPhones between August 2011 and February 2012 in order to divide people into categories for advertisers. At the opening of an expected two-day hearing in London on Monday, lawyers for Lloyd’s campaign group Google You Owe Us told the court information collected by Google included race, physical and mental heath, political leanings, sexuality, social class, financial, shopping habits and location data. Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Lloyd, said information was then “aggregated” and users were put into groups such as “football lovers” or “current affairs enthusiasts” for the targeting of advertising. Tomlinson said the data was gathered through “clandestine tracking and collation” of browsing on the iPhone, known as the “Safari Workaround” – an activity he said was exposed by a PhD researcher in 2012. Tomlinson said Google has already paid $39.5m to settle claims in the US relating to the practice. Google was fined $22.5m for the practice by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2012 and forced to pay $17m to 37 US states. Speaking ahead of the hearing, Lloyd said: “I believe that what Google did was quite simply against the law. “Their actions have affected millions in England and Wales and we’ll be asking the judge to ensure they are held to account in our courts.” The campaign group hopes to win at least £1bn in compensation for an estimated 4.4 million iPhone users. Court filings show Google You Owe Us could be seeking as much as £3.2bn, meaning claimants could receive £750 per individual if successful. Google contends the type of “representative action” being brought against it by Lloyd is unsuitable and should not go ahead. The company’s lawyers said there is no suggestion the Safari Workaround resulted in any information being disclosed to third parties. They also said it is not possible to identify those who may have been affected and the claim has no prospect of success. Anthony White QC, for Google, said the purpose of Lloyd’s claim was to “pursue a campaign for accountability and retribution” against the company, rather than seek compensation for affected individuals. He said: “The court should not permit a single person to co-opt the data protection rights of millions of individuals for the purpose of advancing a personal ‘campaign’ agenda and should not allow them to place the onus on individuals who do not wish to be associated with that campaign to take positive steps to actively disassociate themselves from it.” Tom Price, communications director for Google UK said: “The privacy and security of our users is extremely important to us. This case relates to events that took place over six years ago and that we addressed at the time. “We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed. We’ve filed evidence in support of that view and look forward to making our case in Court.” Source
  14. The UK’s digital and culture secretary is urging businesses and charities to prepare for stronger data protection laws in the light of new information. Less than half of UK businesses and charities are aware of new data laws just four months before the compliance deadline, a government-sponsored survey has revealed, with awareness in the construction and manufacturing sectors particularly low. Businesses in the finance and insurance sectors have the highest awareness of the changes to be brought in through the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be implemented in UK law via the Data Protection Bill in May 2018. The new UK data protection legislation sets similar requirements and penalties for non-compliance as the GDPR in an attempt by the UK government to ensure uninterrupted data flows between the UK and EU member countries after Brexit. According to the government report, only one in four construction businesses polled are aware of the incoming regulation. Awareness is higher among businesses that say their senior managers consider cyber security a fairly high or very high priority, with two in five aware of the GDPR. The survey found that just over a quarter of businesses and charities that had heard of the regulation have made changes to their operations ahead of the new laws coming into force. Among those making changes, just under half of businesses, and just over one-third of charities, have made changes to cyber security practices, including creating or improving cyber security procedures, hiring new staff and installing or updating anti-virus software. Speaking in Davos, UK digital, culture, media and sport minister Matt Hancock said the government is strengthening the UK’s data protection law to make it fit for the digital age. The new legislation is aimed at giving UK citizens more control over their own data, he said, as well as supporting innovative businesses to maximise the potential benefits of increasing use of data in the digital economy. However, the minister said the survey shows that many organisations still need to act to make sure the personal data they hold is secure and they are prepared for the new EU and UK data protection laws. Hancock said there is a “wealth of free help and guidance” available from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). “I encourage all those affected to take it up,” he said. The UK tops the list in Europe for global tech investors, with its tech firms attracting more venture capital funding than any other European country in 2017. In December 2017, the UK was named by Oxford Insights as the best prepared country in the world for artificial intelligence (AI) implementation. While in Davos, Hancock is expected to promote UK innovators in speeches covering policymaking for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Generation AI. The new UK data protection legislation will give the ICO more power to defend consumer interests and issue higher fines, of up to £17m or 4% of global turnover for the most serious data breaches, which is roughly in line with the penalties contained in the GDPR. Organisations that hold and process personal data are urged to prepare and follow the guidance and sector FAQS freely available from the ICO. The ICO’s dedicated advice line for small organisations has received more than 8,000 calls since it opened in November 2017, and the Guide to the GDPR has had more than one million views. The regulator also has a GDPR checklist, and 12 steps to take now to prepare for GDPR. According to the government, there is still time to prepare, and many organisations will be compliant with the new rules if they are already complying with the existing Data Protection Act. There will be no regulatory “grace” period, but the government said the ICO is a “fair and proportionate” regulator. “Those who self-report, who engage with the ICO to resolve issues and demonstrate effective accountability, can expect this to be taken into account when the ICO considers taking action,” the government said in a statement. Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the data protection law reforms put consumers and citizens first. “People will have greater control over how their data is used, and organisations will have to be transparent and account for their actions,” she said. “This is a step-change in the law – businesses, public bodies and charities need to take steps now to ensure they are ready.” According to Denham, organisations that commit to the spirit of data protection and embed it into their policies, processes and people will thrive in the new era of data protection. “The GDPR offers a real opportunity to present themselves on the basis of how they respect the privacy of individuals, and over time this can play more of a role in consumer choice,” she said. “Enhanced customer trust and more competitive advantage are just two of the benefits of getting it right.” Denham recommends that businesses follow free guidance on protecting themselves from online attacks published by the NCSC, such as the Cyber Essentials advice and the Small Business Guide. The GDPR requires organisations to have appropriate measures in place to protect personal data, which could include: In the wake of recent high-profile data breaches, the government is urging businesses and charities to update their cyber security protections. Cyber security measures businesses and charities can take up to help protect their data include: source
  15. Less than a week after the UK 'piracy police' shut down the proxy service Immunicity and arrested its owner, clones of the service have started to appear online. The services allow people to access The Pirate Bay and other blocked sites. Just like the original site they are completely free of charge. When Immunicity launched last year TorrentFreak spoke with the owner, who told us he created the service as a protest against increasing censorship efforts in the UK. “We are angered by the censorship that is happening in the UK and in other countries across the globe, so we got our thinking caps on and decided to do something about it,” Immunicity’s operator said. The site’s core motivation came from the famous John Gilmore quote that was prominently placed on the site’s homepage. “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” And that was exactly what the service offered. Those who set up their browser to work with Immunicity would gain access to blocked sites, by running their traffic through its proxy server. In just a few clicks the service was able to unblock any censored site, hassle free. For more than a year Immunicity helped tens of thousands of people to unblock censored websites, but that was brought to an end last week. Tipped off by copyright holders, City of London Police labeled Immunicity a criminal operation and arrested its 20-year old owner. The idea behind the police action was to send a deterrent message and make it harder for the public to access blocked sites. However, it appears to have resulted in just the opposite. Just days after the original Immunicity site was taken offline at least two clones have appeared. Both Immunicity.co.uk and Immun.es offer the same unblocking functionality, completely free of charge. The two new services are a direct result of the Immunicity takedown, once again showing that censorship enforcement may lead to counterproductive results. TorrentFreak spoke with the operator of Immum.es who, considering recent events, has taken the necessary precautions to stay out of police sight. “When purchasing the domain and server I made steps to protect myself from potential adversaries,” the operator says. Immun.es uses a hosting service that allows proxies and has unmetered bandwidth, which should guarantee smooth sailing in the short run. The operator informs us that the backend is coded in node.js, which he may release as open source later. The end result is that the actions of City of London Police have made matters worse, from their own perspective. Instead of one Immunicity, there are now two, and possible many more to come in the future. Source: TorrentFreak
  16. This week, police took unprecedented action by shutting down proxies facilitating access to torrent sites blocked in the UK. With the surprise arrest of the sites' alleged operator leaving people scratching heads, TorrentFreak decided to find out what emboldened police to go after sites that neither carry nor link to any infringing content. Since the launch of Operation Creative last year, UK police have contacted a range of so-called ‘pirate’ sites while giving their operators the opportunity to shut down quietly to avoid further action. It was pretty much certain that torrent and streaming sites would be prime targets, and we’ve seen that play out in recent months. This week, however, PIPCU delivered a surprise. Instead of going after sites that host or link to infringing material, they targeted a series of sites that have never done so, arresting their alleged operator in the process. Reverse Proxies So-called ‘reverse proxies’ are not file-sharing sites, they merely restore access to third-party sites that have been rendered inaccessible by ISPs, as the result of a court order for example. The sites that were closed down this week enabled users to access The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, even if their ISP actively blocks the site. The police intervention raises many questions, none of which will be officially answered while an investigation is underway. So, in order to try and fill in some of the blanks, TorrentFreak spoke with expert intellectual property lawyer Darren Meale to explore a possible basis for this week’s arrest of a proxy site operator. “Internet users have sought ways to continue to access the sites by getting round the blocking put in place by the ISPs. One of the ways to do this is to use proxy servers. This operation is a major step in tackling those providing such services.” – FACT director Kieron Sharp commenting this week on the proxy shutdowns. Breach of a High Court order? Darren Meale: “The individual has been accused of helping Internet users access websites which the English High Court has ordered the major UK ISPs to block. That order arose in a civil, not a criminal action, and only applies to the ISPs in question. If it applied to the individual and he ignored the Court order, he would be in contempt of court and a judge could commit him to prison. But I don’t understand that to be what is going on here.” Assisting a criminal enterprise? So, with the High Court blocks a potential red herring, our attention is turned to the activities of the sites being unblocked by the proxies, and how merely facilitating access to those sites might be perceived as an offense by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Darren Meale: “Sites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents have been the subject of all sorts of civil and criminal actions around the world, but are tricky to target because of where they are based and the way they operate. That’s why initiatives like site blocking have become popular in the UK. “The rights owners, police and other authorities can’t get their hands on the sites directly, at least not practically. Of course, that doesn’t mean that those sites aren’t still committing criminal offenses. “Although we tend to think of copyright infringement as a civil wrong, it is also a criminal offense provided it is carried out ‘in the course of business’. Sites like KAT run as a commercial enterprise and make a lot of money out of advertising, so there is a pretty strong case that they are committing criminal offenses, including in the UK.” If sites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents are committing crimes, others can also commit crimes by helping them, Meale says. Darren Meale: “The Serious Crime Act 2007 makes it a crime to intentionally encourage or assist someone else committing a crime, in the same way as it used to be a crime to ‘incite’ someone to commit a crime. “The UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has previously accused operators of file-sharing websites of committing crimes of this nature. PIPCU’s statement in this matter also refers to its intention to ‘come down hard on people believed to be committing or deliberately facilitating such offenses’. “These kinds of ‘inchoate‘ offenses are, in my view, the most likely candidate for what this individual has been arrested for.” But other ISPs are facilitating access to illegal sites too.. Only six ISPs in the UK have been ordered to block sites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, the others are, at this very moment, knowingly facilitating access to these potentially criminal sites. How is it that a proxy service operator now finds himself in hot water while these ISPs continue with no repercussions? Meale points out that the L’Oreal v eBay decision found that service providers (eBay in that case) had no duty to police their services for infringement. Also, service providers benefit from safe harbors under the E-commerce Directive, rendering them immune from prosecution in certain circumstances. Darren Meale: “However, there is a difference between providing Internet access generally (which ISPs do) and providing a service or website which sets out to link to another, illegal, website. An attempt to make ISPs liable for what flows through them in the same way as someone running a file-sharing site failed in Australia in a case called iiNet. I think the same distinction would be drawn in Europe and the UK. “Providing general Internet access: OK subject to exceptions such as if the ISP is hosting. But setting up a service designed to help people access illegal websites: that’s much more dubious. That’s not to say that the legal issues that surround all this are straightforward – they’re not.” Conclusion What shines through following the events of this week is how untested the waters are in cases such as these. Whether PIPCU intends to follow this matter through to the bitter end (risking a potentially unfavorable outcome) remains to be seen, but it’s possible that won’t be needed. At this point they have already achieved the total closure of all targeted sites along with the seizure of their domains. That, along with a clear message to others mulling the same course of action might, in the overall scheme of things, be considered “mission accomplished.” Source: TorrentFreak
  17. Domain name suspension requests sent by City of London Police to registrars are not being met with cooperation in a majority of cases. New information obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveals that a total of 70 requests were denied, with just five being granted. Earlier this week City of London Police arrested the alleged operator of a range of proxy sites. The action was framed as a success but new information obtained by TorrentFreak shows that other police anti-piracy efforts are far less effective. “Operation Creative” began with the sending of warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites. “If a website fails to comply and engage with the police, then a variety of other tactical options may be used including; contacting the domain registrar informing them of the criminality and seeking suspension of the site,” the City of London Police told TorrentFreak. To find out more about the scope of this operation, back in June TorrentFreak sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the police which provided new insights into the effectiveness of this process. Following its launch in the last quarter of 2013, City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) sent warning letters to the operators of 107 ‘pirate’ sites. All of these sites were referred by entertainment industry groups, and include most of the popular file-sharing domains. Interestingly, the FOI data further reveals that 109 domain names were referred to PIPCU in total, which means that the police didn’t take any action against two of the reported sites. There are no additional details explaining why these sites were not considered to be infringing. In addition to contacting site owners directly, PIPCU also approached domain name registrars with requests to suspend these pirate sites. In total the police sent out suspension requests for 75 domain names, and only five of these were granted. The other 70 requests were denied. This relatively low success rate of less than 7% shows that domain registrars are not easily convinced to suspend accounts without a court order. The only registrar that we know of who did comply was PDR Ltd (Public Domain Registry), who seized ExtraTorrent’s domain name and several others. PIPCU letter to registrars At the other end of the spectrum is EasyDNS. The registrar refused to suspend any domains without due process, and helped to transfer several suspended domains away from PDR by launching an appeal at ICANN. EasyDNS CEO Mark Jeftovic is happy to hear that other registrars also denied the PIPCU requests. While he believes that registrars and other Internet services have an obligation to prevent acute threats to the network, which may require domain suspensions, this is not the case with alleged pirate sites that haven’t been found guilty by a court of law. “When somebody identifying themselves as law enforcement, directs registrars to takedown functioning websites or even hijack their traffic in the absence of some legal due process, then we are in the early stages of living in a world of ‘rule by decree’,” Jeftovic tells TorrentFreak. EasyDNS’ CEO believes that in a time where governments and law enforcement agencies are illegally monitoring their own citizens to make sure that they obey the law, the public has the right to question authority. “In a world where our governments are quickly losing their legitimacy to rule, we, as citizens and private enterprises now have to put the onus on governments and their enforcement agencies at every turn: prove what you’re doing is legal, or leave me alone. That’s what ‘due process’ is all about,” Jeftovic says. In the case of PIPCU’s domain suspensions, nearly all registrars did indeed question the legitimacy of the request. While PIPCU has the right to request action from a registrar, its letter carries no more weight than one from the average man in the street. That said, thus far there are no signs that PIPCU is backing down. Operation Creative is still in full force and last week they began hijacking the first ad banners. As it turns out, advertising companies are easier to convince than domain name registrars. Source: TorrentFreak
  18. With help from Hollywood, City of London Police have arrested the alleged operator of Immunicity and a range of torrent site proxies. The 20-year-old man was questioned at a local police station, and pending further investigation was released on bail. Earlier today news broke that the proxy service Immunicity had been taken offline by the UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). Several reverse proxies offering access to blocked sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents suffered the same fate. Initially it appeared that the domain seizures were the result of a request PIPCU sent to the domain registrar, as happened previously with other ‘pirate’ domains. However, as more information came in this case turned out to be different. City of London Police inform TorrentFreak that they actually arrested the alleged owner of the domain names. The 20-year-old man from Nottingham was interviewed at a local police station and later released on bail. Pending further investigation he agreed to voluntarily transfer the domains to the police. This is the second arrest since the start of “Operation Creative” last year – the first involved the alleged admin of sports streaming site BoxingGuru. As is often the case, the police were assisted by Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group FACT. According to Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, the arrest is a prime example of a successful partnership between the copyright industry and local law enforcement. “This week’s operation highlights how PIPCU, working in partnership with the creative and advertising industries is targeting every aspect of how copyrighting material is illegally being made available to internet users,” Fyfe says. “We will come down hard on people believed to be committing or deliberately facilitating such offences,” he adds. While the arrest is being framed as a major success, none of the domains operated by the man were offering a file-sharing or illegal streaming service. They were merely proxies that allowed Internet users to access The Pirate Bay and other sites that were blocked per court order by some (not all) UK Internet providers. Many UK ISPs still routinely offer access to the very same sites on a daily basis. Commenting on the arrest, FACT Director Kieron Sharp argues that these proxy sites and services are just as illegal as the blocked sites themselves. “Internet users have sought ways to continue to access the sites by getting round the blocking put in place by the ISPs. One of the ways to do this is to use proxy servers. This operation is a major step in tackling those providing such services,” Sharp notes. Whether this argument will hold up in court has yet to be seen. That is, if the case ever goes to court. Unlike the blocked pirate sites the proxies didn’t appear to be operating for profit, but as a hobby project instead. Source: TorrentFreak
  19. Continuing its attacks on piracy-related domains, the UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has shut down the proxy service Immunicity and several torrent site proxies. The domain names have "seized" by the police and now display a banner warning that the police are investigating the matter. Since last year City of London Police have been working together with copyright holders to topple sites that provide or link to pirated content. The police started by sending warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites. Yesterday police started out another round of anti-piracy actions targeted at sites that offer access to pirated content. Among the new targets is Immunicity, a general proxy server that was set up as a censorship circumvention tool. The police action against Immunicity is concerning as the service merely allows users to route their traffic through a proxy network, much like other anonimizing services such as TOR and VPNs do. The service itself doesn’t host or link to infringing content. In addition in Immunicity the Pirate Bay proxy Piratereverse.info and KickassTorrents proxies Kickassunblock.info and Katunblock.com were taken down as well. The same happened with movie2kproxy.com, h33tunblock.info and several other sites. The DNS entries of the domains have all been replaced and now point at a PIPCU IP-address which displays a warning banner. PIPCU has not yet confirmed the nature of the takedowns but at the time of writing the most likely explanation is that the U.S. based registrar suspended the sites in question. Based on letters that were sent out to registrars previously, the police accuse proxy services and sites of running a criminal operation. While no court order has been obtained, PIPCU claims to have launched an investigation into the sites and has asked the domain registrar to cooperate. “The owners of the aforementioned domains are suspected to be involved in the criminal distribution of copyrighted material either directly or indirectly and are liable to prosecution under UK law for the following offences: Conspiracy to Defraud, Offences under the Fraud Act 2006, Copyright, Design & Patents Act 1988,” PIPCU states. “Should a conviction be brought for the above offences, UK courts may impose sentences of imprisonment and/or fines. PIPCU has criminal and civil powers in UK law to seize money, belongings and any property in connection with these offences.” It’s important to note that with the previous requests the City of London Police did not present a court order or other warrant. However, it turns out that police letterhead is sometimes enough to throw due process concerns overboard. TorrentFreak has asked PIPCU for a comment on the most recent actions, but we have yet to hear back. Update: TorrentFreak has received new information suggesting that PIPCU managed to take control of the domains without the involvement of eNom. We will present more details when we are allowed to share it in public. Source: TorrentFreak
  20. All it took yesterday was a single article to trigger off a tidal wave of copycat reports across dozens of sites including the mainstream RT.com. Just to be absolutely clear - Britain HAS NOT decriminalized file-sharing and to suggest otherwise only puts people at unnecessary risk. File-sharing remains ILLEGAL in the UK, guaranteed. From next year people in the UK can download and share whatever they like. Movies, music and video games. You name it – it’s a free-for-all download bonanza with zero consequences other than four friendly letters asking people to try Netflix and Spotify. In fact, the UK government has even gone as far as decriminalizing online copyright infringement entirely, despite risking the wrath of every intellectual property owner in the land. That was the message doing the rounds yesterday in the media, starting on VG247 and going on to overload Reddit and dozens of other sites. Even Russia’s RT.com got in on the fun. Except it’s not fun at all. It’s completely untrue on countless levels and to suggest otherwise puts people at risk. Let’s be absolutely clear here. Copyright infringement, whether that’s on file-sharing networks or elsewhere, is ILLEGAL in the UK. Nothing, repeat NOTHING, has changed. As detailed in our previous article, VCAP is a voluntary (that’s the ‘V’ part) agreement between some rightsholders and a few ISPs to send some informational letters to people observed infringing copyright. This means that the mainstream music labels and the major Hollywood studios will soon have an extra option to reach out to UK Internet users. However, whenever they want to – today, tomorrow or next year – any of the copyright holders involved in VCAP can still file a lawsuit or seek police action against ANYONE engaged in illegal file-sharing – FACT. What makes the original VG247 report even more inaccurate is its headline: “Britain just decriminalised online game piracy.” If we’re still laboring under the illusion that VCAP is somehow the reason behind the government’s “decriminalization” of piracy, understand this – video game companies are not even part of the VCAP program. Worst still, the biggest financial punishment ever ordered by a UK court was a default judgment in 2008 issued to – wait for it – a person who illegally file-shared a single video game. The case was a farce, but the judgment stands and the law on which is was based has not changed. There is nothing stopping any video game company from doing this again once VCAP starts, properly this time. But why stop at video games? Porn companies/trolls aren’t involved in the VCAP scheme either and any of those could head off to court to obtain the identities of people they want to sue. It’s happening in the UK. There’s a VCAP-style scheme in the United States too, often referred to as “six strikes”, and that has done nothing to stop companies like Malibu Media filing lawsuits almost every day. Voluntary agreements avoid the complication of changing the law, that’s their entire point. They provide helpful mechanisms that the law does not already mandate. For example, UK ISPs are not expressly required to forward infringement notices to users under current law, yet VCAP means that some rightsholders, not all, will get that ‘right’. So which other sectors are not involved in VCAP so therefore cannot rely on the assistance it provides? Well, thousands of smaller record labels and film companies for a start. They tend to be outside the walls of the BPI and MPA so do not enjoy the fruits of their lobbying. While these smaller outfits tend to stay away from litigation, they could soon have fresh options. Piracy monetization firm Rightscorp works with many smaller companies and has recently indicated an interest in the UK. “We are getting a great reception from everyone we have spoken to [in the UK],” the company’s Robert Steele said in May. Whether Rightscorp will be able to pull this off is an entirely different matter, but since file-sharing of copyrighted material remains illegal in the UK, the company has a chance. The other issue is how the VCAP warnings will be presented to alleged infringers. While they have a focus on education, it would be incredible if they contained the text “The UK has just decriminalized file-sharing, that’s why we have sent you this letter.” It would be even more amazing if the ISPs agreed to pass them on if file-sharing was no longer an offense. While no laws have been changed, in some instances it’s probably fair to say that VCAP will make it less likely that people will be pursued by the major record labels and movie studios in the UK. It doesn’t eliminate the threat, however. Try this. Head off to your local Odeon, Showcase or UCI this coming weekend, set up a camcorder, and see if you can get a really sweet copy of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Begin uploading this to The Pirate Bay and while it’s seeding send an email to the Federation Against Copyright Theft containing your personal details. VCAP friendly letter incoming or a police raid? Yeah, thought so. Source: TorrentFreak
  21. Police in the UK have become one of the first major police forces to deploy automated facial recognition technology to catch criminals. The British police will be using NEC’s NeoFace technology, which can match faces from crime scene photos or videos against a database of images in just a few seconds. Combined with the highest density of CCTV cameras of any country in the world, police body-worn cameras that are constantly recording, and a CSI-like smartphone and tablet app that allows for face and fingerprint matching in the field, it is rather hard to be a criminal in the UK nowadays. Most modern police forces, including the FBI, have some kind of computerized face-matching system — but it involves laboriously looking through dozens of potential matches manually. NEC’s NeoFace, which was released last year and has since been deployed by a few police forces, is fully automated, highly accurate, and very fast. The FBI isn’t far behind with its own automated Next-Generation Identification (NGI) system, which has been slowly rolling out over the last couple of years (it’s expected to turn on fully this summer). The NGI database, containing millions of fingerprints, faces, and other biometric records, will eventually be shared with all federal, state, and local police forces in the US. Some happy British police, using NeoFace. Amusingly the NeoFace app appears to be running in the Windows 8 Metro interface. NEC’s NeoFace and the FBI’s NGI both work in roughly the same way. The most important thing is that you need a big database of images to begin with — which, fortunately, the police is in possession of. The software goes through each of these images (potentially millions of them) and encodes them into specially tagged and formatted files. These files don’t store image data, but rather biometric data — the distance between the eyes, the length of the nose, etc. Many of these images will already be associated with a criminal’s police record, but that’s not a requirement. Later, to find a match, the investigator simply feeds a new image into the system — a photo, a still from a crime scene video — and the same encoding/tagging process occurs. It is then a very quick process to compare the biometric markers from the new image against the entire database. In the case of NeoFace, there are also a couple of companion apps. NeoFace Watch watches surveillance footage, constantly picking faces out of a crowd — and then storing those faces in a database, or matching them against a predefined watch list. NeoFace Smart ID is a smartphone and tablet app that allows for the real-time collection and identification of fingerprints, faces, voices, and other identifiable data at crime scenes. NEC’s NeoFace Smart ID facial recognition companion app for smartphones and tablets Utopia or dystopia? As we noted at the beginning of the story, with around 6 million CCTV cameras — or one camera per 10 citizens — the UK has been called the world’s most surveilled state. Earlier in the year, British police also started wearing body cameras, which are very effective at collecting evidence in call outs and public order incidents. Couple this with its existing database of criminal mugshots, and some judicious scanning of public Facebook profiles (which link your face to your name), and you can see how the police now have a lot of facial data to work with. Andy Ramsay, one of the UK police officers using the NeoFace tech, said: “We have over ninety-thousand photos on our system and Neo-Face can compare someone’s image against our complete databases in seconds. Besides the speed it’s also impressive because it can even find family members related to the person we’re trying to identify.” Yes, if you look somewhat like your dad (i.e. you have the same nose or brow or lips) then NeoFace will probably throw up a potential match. The obvious upside to facial recognition tech is that it’s becoming increasingly hard to be a criminal. With 6 million CCTV cameras in the UK, there’s a really good chance that you’ll get spotted trying to mug someone or break into a house — and then you’re just a few seconds away from being automatically identified by some software. The downside, of course, is that any expectation of privacy is quickly evaporating. The standard refrain from governments, intelligence agencies, and the police, of course, is that good people have nothing to hide — but it’s really not that simple. With CCTV and facial recognition and license plate readers and NSA wire taps and even wearable computers like Google Glass, the concept of privacy is being rapidly eviscerated from our lives. When we know that we’re being watched and judged, we behave differently — we conform. Governments love this, of course — a docile population is an easy-to-rule population. But it’s not even conformity that most scares me — it’s the terrifying thought of what happens if these mass tools of surveillance are controlled by nefarious actors. In the hands of a good police, surveillance is a great way of reducing crime — but in the hands of an oppressive government or megacorporation, omnipresent surveillance is how society becomes dystopic, just like 1984. Source
  22. A tweet sent by Cortana's program manager, Marcus Ash, reveals that inside of two weeks, a developer preview for Cortana will be available. Keep in mind that the only Windows Phone 8.1 users in the U.K. that will be able to see and use Cortana, will be those who registered as developers with Microsoft. For the rest of you, the personal assistant will be unavailable for now, unless a hack is devised, of course. Right now, only those in the U.S. with Windows Phone 8.1 are able to use Cortana. In his conversations on Twitter, program manager Ash said that while developing Cortana, Microsoft learned a lot about scaling; that is certainly one of the issues that the company would have to face when rolling out a project as ambitious as a virtual personal manager, to a large number of countries world-wide. No word from Microsoft yet, as to when non-developers in the U.K. will be able to access Cortana. Source
  23. Earlier this year news broke that UK ISPs are set to team up with copyright holders to notify subscribers found sharing pirated material. Today the initiative has been announced officially, receiving praise from all parties involved. Despite the optimism it may take well over a year before the first warnings are sent out. In an effort to curb online piracy, earlier this year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send warnings to alleged copyright infringers. As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will only apply to P2P file-sharing and will mainly focus on repeat infringers. The monitoring will be carried out by a third-party company and unlike other warning systems there won’t be any punishments. The main purpose of the warnings is to alert and educate copyright infringers, in the hope they will move over to legal alternatives. The program was officially announced today and received support from all parties involved, including the UK Government which is financially backing the measures. Without exception they all praise the warning system and the accompanying educational campaign. “It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative,” the MPA’s Chris Marcich comments. Thus far BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to send warnings to customers whose connections are being used for unauthorized file-sharing. Commenting on the collaboration, all four ISPs praised the educational nature of the VCAP program. “BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.” BT Consumer CEO John Petter says. Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, is equally delighted by the anti-piracy agreement. “As both a content creator and ISP, we understand how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. As a result, we’re pleased [...] to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content,” she notes. The comments from the other ISPs, copyright holder groups, and the Government, are all variations on the same theme. The parties praise the new awareness campaign and note that the main goal is to convert consumers to legal alternatives through education. The question that remains, however, is how genuine all this positivity really is. While the scheme is being overwhelmed with praise, the parties also announced that the first warning emails will not be sent out before next summer, possibly even later. These delays are a thorn in the side of both copyright holders and the Government, suggesting that negotiations behind the scenes are less uplifting. This also shows in earlier comments from the Prime Minister’s IP advisor Mike Weatherly who said that it’s already time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. He suggested that the program needs to be followed by something more enforceable, including disconnections, fines and jail sentences. More background and details on the planned piracy warning are available in our previous VCAP overview article. Source: TorrentFreak
  24. Earlier this year the UK Government promised to legalize the copying of MP3s, CDs and DVDs for personal use, but the changes have yet to pass. The entertainment industry and some lawmakers have voiced concerns over the plan, but the majority appears to be in favor of decriminalizing format shifting. To most consumers it’s common sense that they can make a backup copy of media they own, but in the UK this is currently illegal. Earlier this year the UK Intellectual Property Office proudly announced that these restrictions would be lifted this summer. After consulting various stakeholders the Government decided that it would be in the best interests of consumers to legalize copying for personal use. “Copyright law is being changed to allow you to make personal copies of media you have bought, for private purposes such as format shifting or backup,” the UK’s Intellectual Property Office writes. “The changes will mean that you will be able to copy a book or film you have purchased for one device onto another without infringing copyright.” To communicate the changes to the public the Government released a consumer guide which stated the change would go into effect in June. However, when June came the most crucial changes were still pending Parliamentary approval. What exactly delayed the process remains a mystery. Copyright lobbyists are likely to have become involved and late last month lawmakers were casting doubt over the entire plan. According to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) it is not clear whether the private copying exceptions are allowed under EU law if there’s no “fair compensation” for copyright holders. “Only a court, and ultimately the CJEU, can give an authoritative ruling on whether the [EU Copyright] Directive precludes the private copying exception provided for in [the copying for personal use draft legislation] without the inclusion of a compensation scheme for rightholders adversely affected by the exception,” JCSI notes. The Government previously concluded that compensation wasn’t needed since the changes would not result in any significant harm to copyright holders. However, the JCSI mentions that there are several stakeholders who disagree with this assessment. Yesterday the new copying exceptions were discussed during a general committee debate. The overall consensus was that the current copyright regulations are too restrictive as they run counter to what millions of people are already doing. “By criminalizing format shifting, we are potentially criminalizing 20 million people around the country who probably think they can do that already,” said Mike Weatherley MP, who’s also the Prime Minister’s Intellectual Property Advisor. This opinion was shared by John Whittingdale MP who told the debate about his personal experiences with the issue. “A long time ago I started transferring music that I purchased on one antiquated format — vinyl records — on to another antiquated format — cassette tapes — which I then played in my car. I was technically in breach of copyright law. Subsequently, I moved into the new age and transferred CDs that I had bought on to my iPod. I was still in breach of copyright law,” Whittingdale said. This admission of criminality was met with laughter from the other lawmakers, which was telling for the issue at hand. None of the lawmakers appeared to view the criminal wrongdoing as a problem, yet it is under current law. This mismatch between what’s morally accepted and what the law prescribes should be fixed according to Whittingdale. “It is not good for the respect of law to give a message to consumers that it is fine to break some laws and not others. If the law is outdated and being widely ignored then it needs to change. That is why I welcome the private copying exception,” he said. Minister David Willetts also responded to the doubts raised by JCSI. He confirmed that the European Court of Justice is the relevant legal authority in this case, but according to the legal experts that were consulted copyright holders don’t have to be compensated under the current regulations. Willetts also waved away concerns about the potential losses the new regulations could cause to copyright holders. According to the Minister these concerns are unwarranted as the new rules clearly state that copies can only be made for personal use, so sharing with third parties remains illegal. At the end of the hearing the current draft of the Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations were passed, meaning that they are a step closer to becoming law. Source: TorrentFreak
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