Category: Something completely different

One of the UK’s leading technology thinkers has called for profound changes to technology companies’ relationship with the public in relation to Artificial Intelligence.

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A new survey reveals fear, uncertainty and doubt about children’s online activity and how to control it ..

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Surprisingly for an action movie set in a world of cyborgs, this is a film about motherhood.

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The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee have criticised Government policy in its recent report about Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

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Two Russian secret agents and two paid hackers have been charged by a grand jury in California for hacking Yahoo email accounts

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Developers in Berlin have built a robot that teaches itself to sing

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Sixty-five early adopters are training an Artificial Intelligence to recognise emotions and match moods from a cube-shaped console in the home…

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Conservative Party

A Conservative Party spokesman said:

‘We are determined that as far as possible there should no safe spaces for terrorists to communicate. The Conservative manifesto will therefore make very clear that a Conservative government will introduce the legislation we need to restore our declining communications data capability. And we will use all the legal powers available to us to make sure that where appropriate the police and security and intelligence agencies have the maximum ability to intercept the communications of suspects, while ensuring that such intrusive techniques are properly overseen. As we are reminded time and again by terrorists, this is not an abstract debate but a very real question of how we can give ourselves the best chance of preventing attacks and saving lives.’

Green Party

We live in the information age and we know that information is power. But how should it be controlled? What information should be available and to whom?

The Green Party supports a world of open freely flowing information. We don’t want disproportionate or unaccountable surveillance or censorship. We want a transparent state, but we want control over the data that our digital lives create. We need copyright laws that reward creators but that are consistent with digital technologies. Above all we want democratic political control of this technology. We would consider combining elements of the policies below into a comprehensive Digital Bill of Rights.

We would:
oppose any case for secret unaccountable mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward Snowden. We do accept that government law enforcement agencies may occasionally need to intercept communications in specific circumstances. Such specific surveillance should be proportionate, necessary, effective and within the rule of law, with independent judicial approval and genuine parliamentary oversight.
Replace the Regulation of investigatory Powers Acts 2000, which has failed

– to regulate the deployment of undercover police
– to support the confidentiality of journalistic sources
-to support legal confidentiality; and
-to enshrine an open and effective right of redress

Support and protect internet freedom
Follow human rights judgments limiting surveillance and data retention in full
Support the EU’s proposals to strengthen data protection laws against opposition from large US data-driven companies.
Limit the censoring or takedown of content or activity to exceptional circumstances, clearly set out within a comprehensive legal framework.
Make copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible, and prevent patents applying to software.
Introduce a more satisfactory law on so-called malicious comments made on social media than the blanket and crude section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
Oppose the privatisation of data held by the government that should be open to all, such as the Postcode Address File, or by companies providing public services, such as data on the progress of buses that can be used by Smartphone apps to predict waiting times.
Oppose the sale of personal data, such as health or tax records for commercial or other ends.
Use government purchasing power to support open standards in formation technology.


Labour will always ensure the police and security agencies have the powers they need to keep us safe, alongside proper checks and balances to ensure those powers are used proportionately.

In the face of growing online crime and abuse, and the use of online communications by criminals and extremists, the police, intelligence and security agencies need to be able to operate more effectively to keep us safe. But for them to do so, we also need stronger safeguards and limits to protect our privacy and sustain confidence in this vital work. The existing oversight and legal frameworks are now out of date, and there are difficult wider challenges about privacy, data and the private sector, and how we protect British citizens’ interests in a global internet where everyone follows different rules.

This is why Labour pushed for the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation to review the legal framework governing surveillance and set out detailed proposals for reform – looking at both the capabilities and checks and balances that are needed. In government we will examine the findings of this review and take the necessary action to update our response and keep the country safe. Liberty and security are both central to democracy. We need to feel secure to have the freedom to get on with our daily lives. Where interventions are needed that infringe on individual liberty or privacy in the interests of collective security, they must always be only those necessary and proportionate to the problem. Strong powers need to be matched by strong checks and balances – to set limits and make sure they are not abused.

On the issue of whether Labour agrees with David Cameron when he says he wants tougher powers on data communications – Clearly there is an issue with growing numbers of terrorists communicating via the internet, rather than on the telephone – the authorities need to be able to keep up with changing technologies. So the police and security agencies do need stronger powers, but these also need to be backed by stronger safeguards. That is why Labour pushed for David Anderson’s independent review of the legal framework surrounding surveillance, which will complete just before the election. We need to give David Anderson the time and space to look at these issues and report back.

We know we cannot defeat current threats to our national security solely through a criminal justice response – we also need to build stronger communities at home and confront the radicalisation of British youth. The Prevent programme, which was set up to stop young people being drawn into extremism, needs to be overhauled so that it supports community-led action, not just police action to challenge the vile ideology and narratives being spread to recruit for ISIL.

Labour will also work to increase action to directly challenge extremist ideology and lies being spread, particularly through social media. We should be supporting those who credibly expose the reality of violent and barbaric groups as other countries have started to do.

Liberal Democrats

We have made this a manifesto issue. It’s a very important issue for our party.

Unlike Labour and the Tories, we are a party of civil liberties. We blocked the so-called Snooper’s Charter in 2013 and we’re fully prepared to block it again, knowing full-well that both Labour and the Tories want to bring it back.

We have yet to see a convincing argument for more surveillance powers. The PM on the other hand has set out two specific proposals:

  • New legislation mirroring the draft Comms Data Bill to store the web browsing data of every UK citizen for 12 months.

We think this is unnecessary and disproportionate.

  • New legislation to outlaw communications services which the intelligence agencies can’t read, because of end to end encryption or the refusal of the company involved to respond to a UK interception warrant.

The fact that communications are increasingly moving away from UK-based phone and email services to encrypted web-based services located in the US and elsewhere is clearly a challenge for law enforcement and the intelligence agencies, who are used to being able to enforce a UK warrant against a UK company. The question is not whether there’s an issue here, but how you approach it. We fundamentally disagree with Cameron’s approach. In a global, networked world, it’s extremely difficult for any country to impose unilateral restrictions on the internet. Cameron implies that he wants services like WhatsApp and Snapchat banned at the network level in the UK. We think that’s unacceptable, and would put us in the company of Russia and China. If we want other countries to cooperate with UK interception warrants then we need to establish an international legal framework to do so. That’s the work that Lib Dems have started in government through the appointment of Sir Nigel Sheinwald and the Envoy on International Data Sharing.

We are opposed to the blanket collection of UK residents’ personal communications by the police or the intelligence agencies. We accept that should be proportionate requirements placed on CSPs to store business data for up to 12 months (as set out in the DRIP Act), which should only be available for the authorities to inspect where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting criminal activity, or where there is a threat to life. In relation to GCHQ, we think there is a role for bulk data in tracking foreign terrorist targets, but the rules need to be tightened to ensure that innocent people in the UK are not having their communications routinely collected and analysed.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru To Speak Out Against ‘Snooper’s Charter’

The Party of Wales have voiced strong opposition to the proposed security bill being rushed through the Westminster Parliament.

The Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition is pushing for the bill, dubbed a ‘snooper’s charter’ by many civil liberty groups and critics, to be rushed through the House of Commons as emergency legislation before the summer recess.

Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood said the by-passing of the inherent checks and balances within Westminster was unacceptable, particularly on a piece of legislation that grants the Government far-ranging surveillance powers.

“The Party of Wales has significant reservations about the powers contained within this piece of emergency legislation and the lack of scrutiny being given to these powers,” said Ms Wood.

“That is why we will opposing its passage through the House of Commons.

“This bill has come about as a result of private meetings between the leaders of the three main UK parties. It smacks of a stitch-up. It is no wonder that civil liberty groups are also strongly against it.

“It is wrong that no time is being given for scrutiny, debate and amendment. When this happens, the end result is usually poor legislation.

“The other question we must ask is: has the Westminster Coalition Government earned the trust of the people to be granted these far-ranging powers? I would argue they have not.”


Elfyn Llwyd MP, Plaid Cymru’s group leader in Westminster, said: “The manner in which this new law is set to be rushed through Parliament in just seven days is likely to result in bad legislation.

“I have already received many messages from constituents voicing concerns over the fact that this law infringes upon civil liberties, and we as MPs need ample time to engage with these concerns in a democratic way.

“As a matter of principle, if the Prime Minister consulted with the Liberal Democrats and Labour ahead of this announcement, he should have consulted with all parties.

“This legislation is indiscriminate in the sense that it targets all citizens, not just suspects. Plaid Cymru will not be supporting this bill.”

Scottish Nationalist Party

A spokesperson for the SNP said:

“The safety and security of Scotland’s communities is of primary importance to the SNP. This requires the UK’s security and intelligence agencies to have the appropriate powers necessary to contribute to our safety and security. However, the civil liberties we all enjoy in this country are equally important and need to be protected. This is a difficult balancing act but recent events both at home and abroad clearly demonstrate that we face a significant threat.

“We believe that the powers available to counter that threat have to be used only when it is necessary and proportionate to do so, and they need to be subject to appropriate levels of oversight and accountability to ensure they are used appropriately. We are also clear that the human rights of citizens must be upheld at all times – and that human rights should be central to any approach to this issue.”

UK Independence Party

UKIP Defence spokesman Mike Hookem MEP said:

“As a Libertarian party UKIP is totally opposed to mass surveillance.

In order to protect the security of the British people, surveillance must only be carried out to on a specific person or group after there is sound evidence or reason to believe terrorism is being planned, and the go ahead is authorised by a judge. There is a constant need for transparency and accountability in this process.

The threat of terror in the UK, for instance, from a minority of Islamic extremists must also be tackled in our schools, prisons and mosques.

The rise of terror has also been aided by ill-judged military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. UKIP therefore calls for the release of the Chilcot Report so the push by senior politicians to send our servicemen to war in Iraq is opened up to public view.”