24 January 2015

Urgent: Please Help Stop Underhand Attempt to Sneak in the Snooper's Charter

In an act of extraordinary contempt for both the public and democracy, four lords are attempting to insert the bulk of the Snooper's Charter in the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill in a way that means there will be almost no opportunity to debate it.  We have only two days to stop this disgraceful move by writing to members of the House of Lords, and asking them to object to this disturbing attempt to circumvent the proper procedures "because terrorism".

WriteToThem will provide you with a random person to contact, and an easy way to do so - you just have to provide the message.  Here's what I've sent to a few people there:

I hope you will forgive me for contacting you out of the blue like this, but I feel that the circumstances surrounding the attempt to introduce what amounts to an entire additional bill into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill without scrutiny is a gross abuse of Parliamentary procedure - indeed an assault on democracy.

As the Open Rights Group notes:

"The draft Communications Data Bill, which is inserted by the amendment in nearly identitical form, was scrutinised by a joint committee of the Lords and Commons for a year.

The Committee agreed unanimously that the draft was inappropriate. None of their concerns are addressed in the clauses presented. 

The report is extremely critical of the Home Office, labelling their figures “fanciful and misleading.” It adds that they “expect the overall cost to the taxpayer over the next decade to exceed £1.8 billion [the Home Office's estimated cost] by a considerable margin"

The Committee said that “the draft Bill pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, and goes much further than it need or should for the purpose of providing necessary and justifiable official access to communications data.”

Their concerns over wholesale collection and analysis of data were substantial and from any perspective would need considerable changes to be made to the draft bill, now presented as amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill."

Given those issues, as well as the more fundamental one of the entire legislative process being abused in this way, I would like to urge you to attend the debate on Monday and to express your concerns about this attempt to insert legislation into an existing Bill at the last minute.

Thank you for your help in this important matter.

19 January 2015

Incoming: Spare Slots for Regular Freelance Work

I will soon have some spare slots in my freelance writing schedule for regular weekly or monthly work. Below are the main topics that I've been covering, some for two decades. Any commissioning editors interested in talking about them or related areas, please contact me at glyn.moody@gmail.com (PGP available).

Free Software/Open Source

I started covering this in 1995, wrote the first mainstream article on Linux, for Wired in 1997, and the first (and still only) detailed history of the subject, Rebel Code, in 2001. For my book, I interviewed the world's top 50 hackers at length, and remain in contact with many of them, as well as with open source coders and companies that have risen to prominence in the last decade and a half, writing about them principally in my Open Enterprise column for Computerworld UK.

Open Access, Open Data, Open Science, Open Government, Open Everything

As the ideas underlying openness, sharing and online collaboration have spread, so has my coverage of related areas such as open access, open data and open science grown. Much of it can be found in the earlier posts on this blog, among the 1400 articles I've written for Open Enterprise, and on Techdirt, where I have published over a thousand posts.

Copyright, Patents, Trade Secrets

The greatest threats to openness comes from its converse: intellectual monopolies. This fact has led me to write many articles about copyright, patents and trade secrets, mainly for Techdirt.

Trade Agreements - TTIP, TPP, TISA

Because intellectual monopolies represent such a threat to free software and open projects, I began writing about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which dealt with them. In fact, I wrote a whole series of articles charting ACTA's rise - and fall.

That, in its turn, led me to write about the even more problematic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on an even larger scale: to date, I've written some 48 posts about it for Computerworld UK, and many more for Techdirt. Parallel to this, I've written extensively about other trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).

Surveillance, Encryption, Privacy, Freedom of Speech

Partly in response to recent revelations by Edward Snowden, and the growing threat to digital rights that they reveal, I have written extensively on surveillance, encryption, privacy and freedom of speech, both for Techdirt and Computerworld UK.

Twitter, identi.ca, Google+

Although the number of people who follow me on Twitter, identi.ca and Google+ is not particularly large - around 25,000 altogether - natural selection over the years has ensured that they are highly interested in the topics mentioned above (otherwise they wouldn't still be following me.)  They include some very active users that re-tweet widely links to my freelance work.


As a glance at my posts to Twitter, identi.ca and Google+ will indicate, I read news sources in a number of languages (Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Greek, Swedish in descending order of capability.)  This means I can offer a fully European perspective on any of the topics above - something that may be of interest to publications wishing to provide global coverage that goes beyond purely anglophone reporting.

14 January 2015

Please Write to Your MP to Ask for Parliamentary Scrutiny of TTIP

One of the many big problems with TTIP is the lack of democracy: it is being negotiated behind closed doors, with virtually no input from the public. The texts will be made available once the negotiations are complete, at which point it will not be possible to make changes. Even the national parliaments will be limited to a simple yes or no vote.

The MP Geraint Davies has put forward a motion on TTIP calling for more scrutiny:

"That this House resolves that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and any associated Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions should be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny in the European Parliament and the UK Parliament."

It's not much, but it's better than what we currently have, so I would like to urge you to write to your local MP, asking them to support this motion. You can do that either using WriteToThem, or more simply using the 38 Degrees site. Here's what I've written:

As you know, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated between the EU and the US is highly contentious. One of its biggest problems is the lack of scrutiny. In order to inject a little more democracy into the process - and to bolster your own key role as representative of the public here - I would like to urge you to support the motion being put forward by Geraint Davies that calls for more scrutiny for TTIP.