Tough on data misuse, tough on the causes of data misuse: A review of New Labour’s approach to information security and regulating the misuse of digital information (1997–2010)

Citation

Bishop, J. (2010). Tough on data misuse, tough on the causes of data misuse: A review of New Labour’s approach to information security and regulating themisuse of digital information (1997–2010). International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 24 (3), pp. 299–308

Abstract
New Labour was a description of a particular approach to government of the British Labour Party, which was in power in the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2010.While this government initially envisaged an end to the social causes of misdemeanours, its actions led to a greater number of laws on the statute bookscreating thousands of statutory offences. A small number of these had direct effectson the number of computer related offences that were able to be prosecuted. This paper reviews these laws, and the role of legal systems in responding to theincreasing number of misdemeanours that are occurring in computer environments for which New Labour’s approach of creating more statutory offences has not addressed.

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All’s WELL that Ends WELL: A Comparative Analysis of the Constitutional and Administrative Frameworks of Cyberspace and the United Kingdom

All’s WELL that Ends WELL: A Comparative Analysis of the Constitutional and Administrative Frameworks of Cyberspace and the United Kingdom

Jonathan Bishop

Abstract

Constitutional and Administrative Law is a core component of legal studies throughout the world, but to date little has been written about how this might exist on the Internet, which is like a world without frontiers. John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” served to start the debate about the legitimacy of nation-states to impose laws on such a virtual space. It has been argued that the nation-states won as there are now a significant number of laws regulating the Internet on national and international levels. It can however be seen that there are commonalities between the two entities. For example, there are commonalities in the way they function. There are also commonalities in the way civil rights exist, and the existence of civil remedies and law enforcement. These are all explored in the chapter, which also presents two concepts about the authority of the state in regulating behaviour in online communities. One of them, “sysop prerogative,” says that owners of website can do whatever they want so long as they have not had it taken away by law or given it away by contract. The second, ‘The Preece Gap’, says that there is a distance between the ideal usable and sociable website that the users want and that which the owners of the website provide in practice. Two other concepts are also introduced, “the Figallo effect” and the “Jimbo effect.” The former describes an online community where users use their actual identities and sysop prerogative is delegated to them. The latter describes those where sysop prerogative is exercised by one or more enforcers to control users who use pseudonyms. The chapter concludes that less anonymity and a more professionalised society are needed to bridge the gap between online and offline regulation of behavior.

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References

Bishop, J. (2011). All’s WELL that Ends WELL: A Comparative Analysis of the Constitutional and Administrative Frameworks of Cyberspace and the United Kingdom. In: Alfreda Dudley, James Braman and Giovanni Vincenti (Eds.) Investigating Cyber Law and Cyber Ethics: Issues, Impacts and Practices. New York: IGI Global. Available online at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com/Library/Documents/EN/docIGIPaper_AllsWELL.pdf

We must do more to protect our children from online predators

I read with hopefulness the front-page story that teenagers from South Wales were going to be safe from online predators (“Dad sets up safe ‘new Facebook’ website”, March 31). But the devil is in the detail as they say.
If I could bring to readers’ attention a shocking fact – browsing Google’s statistics websites Google Trends, there has been a decrease in searches for obscene images of children at the same rate there has been an increase in searches for social networking.
This suggests to me that sex offenders are fulfilling their sordid fantasies by pretending to be children and befriending them on these sites.

To road-testing of southwaleskids.com by journalist Ed Walker shows how even Hywel Dance’s site is open to abuse.

As Ed showed, it is a piece of cake for someone to pretend to be a pupil at a school and invite others to be “friends” with them. Without a system to verify the pupil’s identity, Hywel’s site is as open to abuse as Facebook.

I recently made a speech on the need for greater identity protection in order to protect vulnerable people online. I argued that there should be a special bank card that only children can have, and that they can only use social networking sites like Hywel’s if they verify their identity with that card and their parent/guardian uses their credit card to give them the permission to use it. This would make it much more difficult for predators to gain access to children online.

There is currently a European Union consultation on the role of technology to protect people’s identity online. I invite readers to take part and let the EU know that, whatever the ideal of anonymity online, the safety of our children comes first. The consultation is at tinyurl.com/eu-eid-sig and closes on April 15.

Human Rights and 'Sysop Prerogative'

Jonathan believes that sysop prerogative is guaranteed and limited by European treaties

Sysop prerogative is the right that an owner of an online community has to take whatever actions they wish in order that the community functions the way they wish. In common law counties it is understood that someone can do whatever they want unless they give that right way or it is taken away from them by a superior authority, such as Parliament, in the case of the United Kingdom (UK). It can therefore be expected that the systems operator (sysop) who owns an online community is free to operate their community under any rules they want that has not been taken away from them by statute. After all the community is surely their property which they can use and dispose of in any way they choose?

However, with each right or freedom comes certain duties and obligations, something which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. This convention, like the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, places obligations on nation states to guarantee certain rights and not to interfere with the enjoyment of these rights except where they conflict with other rights or duties. This means that sysop prerogative may be both guaranteed and limited by European Human Rights Law.

Sysop prerogative can be used for instance to ban users who don’t participate, known as lurkers, some of whom make up to 90% of activity according to some sources.