It’s a slow day. Really slow and you’re bored, so you decide to fire up Facebook and check to see who’s messaged you. Twitter, Facebook, even your personal emails, we all have a way of communicating online. Might not be the best time to open up your personal messages at work though with the ECHR deciding that companies can read your private messages at work.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared that as a worker while checking his yahoo messenger at work, it was perfectly in its right as a company to read those messages. The Judges ruled that in the end he had breached the company’s rules and it had a right to check his activity while at work.
This ruling now means that all countries that are part of the European Convention on Human Rights, including Britain, must now follow this decision.
While at work the employee checked his Yahoo Messenger, something he used for both personal and professional contacts. As it believed the account in question was for work, the judges ruled that the company had not been in error on checking the contents of the messages.
While a scary president it lies on several factors, firstly a company would have to have a computer policy in place that means they can read your messages (this policy is something anyone who works with a computer on a daily basis should read, especially if you message on it). As a second step, how would you prove if an account is being used for “work”? Ultimately it’s something that Judges will have to step carefully with, with the ECHR even saying that policies must also protect workers against unfettered snooping.
The company that runs the open-source blog platform called Ghost is moving out its premium service from within the UK’s bounds because of Governmental plans to weaken protection for privacy and freedom of expression.
The founder of Ghost, John O’Nolan released online that the company is changing the default location from the UK to DigitalOcean’s Amsterdam datacenter.
He wrote that he was particularly worried by the UK government’s plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, which he said enshrines key rights such as “respect for your private and family life” and “freedom of expression.” The Netherlands, by contrast, has “some of the strongest privacy laws in the world, with real precedents of hosting companies successfully rejecting government requests for data without full and legal paperwork”
A few weeks after hearing this news another company, this time Eris Industries decided they were going to react to the new UK plans. The company’s move was prompted by the threat that new laws could require backdoors in its encryption technology, of which the software heavily relies on.
The Ceo of Eris explained in a post:
“With immediate effect, we have temporarily moved our corporate headquarters to New York City, where open-source cryptography is firmly established as protected speech pursuant to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” with further news to state that the move will be become permanent if the Snooper’s Charter is enacted with rules that require back doors to be in crypto software.
Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information
A new 38-page report, written by a partnership of Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, is warning the United Nations to “ban killer robots”.
The report, entitled Mind the Gap: The Lack of Accountability for Killer Robots, expresses the fear that “Fully autonomous weapons, also known as ‘killer robots,’ raise serious moral and legal concerns because they would possess the ability to select and engage their targets without meaningful human control.”
In the report, Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School deal with the concern that fully autonomous weapons will lack the sophistication to always be able to differentiate between hostile and friendly targets, or military and civilian targets, on the battlefield.
The issue is further compounded by the lack of accountability for “unlawful harm caused by fully autonomous weapons,” which, under current laws, absolves operators, commanders, programmers, manufacturers from any responsibility for the actions of such a robot.
The only solution that the report suggests is for a global ban on fully autonomous weapons, similar to the pre-emptive ban on blinding laser weapons in 1995 and the forced removal of unexploded cluster bombs initiated in 2006.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to introduce powers allowing security and intelligence services to monitor internet communications if re-elected in May. He made the promise on Monday morning during a speech on the economy in Nottingham.
Referring to the basic concept of internet privacy, and being able to monitor communications and access content in direct breach of that privacy, Cameron said, “Are we going to allow a means of communication where it simply isn’t possible to do that? My answer to that question is ‘No we must not.'” In other words, anything anyone in the UK posts online is at risk of having their privacy violated, supported by the rule of law.
Previous attempts to introduce similar legislation have been shut down by the Conservative’s coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, but Cameron argues that these powers were “absolutely right” for a modern liberal democrat, demonstrating a total misunderstanding of the words “liberal” and “democrat”. Then again, the same accusation could be levelled at the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg.
Last year, the head of GCHQ, the British security organisation that handles communications intelligence, implored Twitter and Facebook to grant them greater access to user messages.
A study commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) has revealed that 75% of Britons and 77% of Americans think internet access should be considered a basic human right. The study gathered opinions from 23,376 internet users across 24 countries. The UK and US figures are actually on the lower end of the scale, with 92% of citizens in Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Tunisia of the opinion that internet access is a human right, the global average being 83%.
Fen Hampton, Director of CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program, said, “Overwhelming global public support for the idea that access to the Internet should be a human right shows just how important the internet has come to freedom of expression, freedom of association, social communication, the generation of new knowledge, and economic opportunity and growth.”
“Right now, one third of the world’s population is online but two-thirds of the world’s population is not. Unless they are brought online, a world of Internet ‘have and have-nots’ will not only contribute to income inequality, but also stifle the world’s full potential for prosperity and innovation,” he added.
The fallout from the PRISM scandal continues and Russian Human Rights officials are the latest political figures to have their say. The head of Russia’s top official Human Rights body, Mikhail Fedotov – pictured above, has told the press that he believes Edward Snowden deserves political asylum.
“He must be granted protection regardless of national borders. And this does not apply only to Mr Snowden’s story – this applies to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and many other people, including journalists – Russian and foreign – who disclose secrets in order to warn the society against dangers…Because of such people we become stronger and the special and diplomatic services must become smarter and understand what can be done in the modern transparent world and what cannot”
Furthermore a second member of the Russia Presidential Council for Human Rights, Kirill Kabanov, was quoted as speaking to the ITAR-TASS news agency and he had some similar sentiments to make about Edward Snowden’s predicament:
“It goes without saying that Snowden acted as a Human Rights advocate but right now the US authorities are very resolute in their intention to punish him. My opinion is that we should take a very precise position – no handover”
Additionally, Russian Lower House committee member for foreign affairs, Aleksey Pushkov, defended Snowden along with Assange and Manning as new dissidents:
“Assange Manning and Snowden were not spies, they did not disclose classified information for money, but did so because of their beliefs. They are new dissidents, fighters against the system”
It looks as if the public and political support for Edward Snowden exists in Russia, and in a lot of other countries. It would be a most surprising turn of events if Edward Snowden was not granted political asylum. It is possible he could even get such an offer in Russia.