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October 18, 2014 | Richard King

Hacking for your digital rights

On 4 October, twenty people got together for a digital-rights hack-day at Mozilla's community space in Covent Garden. Find out what happened and how you can help take the projects we started further.

The day was all about planning and prototyping hacks to help defend digital rights directly, raise awareness of ORG's issues, support our campaigns with evidence and make ORG more accessible to everyone. It was also a great way to bring together and celebrate our technical community, which has gone from strength to strength this year.

Here's a run-down of the hacks, ideas and prototypes people came up with on the day:

You can also check out a few photos of the day on Flickr.

We're really excited about the creativity and viability of all these ideas - and we want to support the community to bring as many of them to fruition as we can. If you're inspired by any of these projects and would like to help take them further, please introduce yourself on the technical volunteers mailing list, or drop by our IRC channel to say hello. You can also find us on github.

If you fancy joining us in person, grab a ticket for ORGCon (15-16 November), where on day two we'll be holding another day-long hack-fest as well as workshops and other sessions on digital-rights activism. We will also be running a session at the Mozilla Festival (24-26 October) looking at how to build on blocked.org.uk - please come and say hello if you get the chance.

Happy hacking!

Updated on 31/10/14 to include a link to the github page for the "kickstarter for election candidates" hack.

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October 14, 2014 | Ed Paton-Williams

TTIP's threat to our privacy and culture

TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated behind closed doors between the United States and the European Union. The agreement is supposed to "increase trade and investment" but there are significant concerns around its potential negative impact on democracy, the rule of law, innovation, culture and privacy.

Many activists are concerned that TTIP will lower regulations that protect us - for example, environmental and food safety laws. TTIP could also lead to the opening up of public services, like those provided by NHS, to US companies - who would be able to sue the UK government if they believe legislation would lead to a reduction in their profits.

NoTTIP Demonstration - Open Rights Group placards

TTIP - pronounced "tee-tip" - is just one of many international trade agreements. Very few of them are well-known and the acronyms for them can get a little bewildering. One thing that is common to many of the recent agreements is Europe and the USA pushing for measures that would jeapordise our digital rights. We need to be vigilant against the threat that TTIP poses for our privacy and culture.

A (relatively) well-known trade agreement is ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). The EU, the USA and nine other countries negotiated ACTA between 2007 and 2010. ACTA made Internet providers legally responsible for copyright infringement on their network. To determine whether their users were infringing copyright, providers would have been strongly incentivised to carry out deep, intrusive surveillance on all of our Internet usage, regardless of whether we had actually infringed anyone's copyright. This would have been an enormous invasion of our privacy. Thanks to huge public protests across Europe, the European Parliament rejected ACTA in 2012 with a 92% majority.

Another trade agreeement that is currently being negotiated is the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). The USA is working on the TPP with twelve countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Leaks of the intellectual property (IP) chapter show that the USA is pushing for very restrictive measures on IP that would invade privacy and impact upon freedom of expression, beyond even those in ACTA.

The EU and Canada have just finished negotiating CETA - pronounced "see-tuh" - (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). The 2009 leak of a draft IP chapter of CETA revealed extensive European demands for Internet provider liability, strict rules on technical restrictions on media that we buy and longer copyright terms. Europe wanted a more repressive IP framework that would have put the interests of major content owners above the need for innovation, culture and privacy.

There is good news though. Those measures have been dropped in the final CETA text. As Canadian academic Michael Geist points out, one of the likely reasons for this is that Canadian negotiators wanted to keep the relatively consumer-friendly copyright reforms that Canada introduced in 2012. TTIP negotiations will not have this moderating force with regards to the IP provisions.

Discussions on IP in TTIP are at a relatively early stage and the relevant chapter has not been leaked. There are, however, reports of USA negotiators asking for measures in TTIP to encourage Internet firms to bypass the rule of law and voluntarily police IP themselves "in good faith". This could mean (mainly American) companies voluntarily removing content, blocking websites, demoting search results or witholding payments without the normal checks required by legal processes. US law being implemented on a global scale by US companies is not something we should accept.

The USA and Europe have a history of proposing extremely restrictive IP measures. We must stop TTIP from invading our privacy and inhibiting our culture and freedom of expression. As the defeat of ACTA shows, we can defeat undemocratic trade deals. We will be watching the TTIP negotiations closely to make sure our fundamental rights are not threatened.

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October 06, 2014 | Ed Paton-Williams and Elizabeth Knight

Journalists and their sources require privacy. But so does everyone else

The police’s use of RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) to access journalists’ phone records came under attack this weekend from the Lib Dems, the Sun newspaper, Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, and the Government's Interception of Communications Commissioner.

We support stronger protection for journalists and their sources. It is right that overuse of RIPA is addressed. But this debate is failing to recognise the reason that journalists’ data can be accessed in this way. All of our data is indiscriminately retained and the police can access it without authorisation from anyone outside the police. We need comprehensive reform of our surveillance laws to ensure communications data is only retained on a targeted basis and access to the data must be approved by judges.

Yesterday the Liberal Democrats passed a conference motion including a call for greater protection for communications records which are legally privileged or relate to journalistic sources. It also emerged that the Sun has written to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to ask for a public review of the Metropolitan Police’s use of RIPA to access phone records belonging to their political editor Tom Newton Dunn.

Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee is concerned about the police’s use of RIPA to investigate journalists and their confidential sources. Keith Vaz, the committee’s chairman, is going to write to every police force, asking them how many times they have used RIPA to request someone’s records, what the purpose of the request was, and the profession of the target of the request.

In addition, Sir Paul Kennedy, the Government’s Interception of Communications Commissioner, has written to all police forces asking them to provide him with full details of all their investigations which used RIPA to access communications data and identify journalistic sources.

We welcome these interventions and agree that journalists and their sources must be able to expect privacy. At present the police are obtaining journalists’ communications data by using RIPA and bypassing the journalistic protections contained in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. RIPA was supposed to provide powers to law enforcement to deal with terrorist and serious criminal activities, not to uncover confidential journalistic sources. The current position threatens the privacy and freedom of expression of journalists and whistleblowers.

It is also worth remembering that, in terms of data retention, the lack of exceptions for communications subject to “professional secrecy” was one of the grounds on which the CJEU (Court of Justice of the EU) recently found the EU Data Retention Directive to be disproportionate and invalid.

However, the issue also serves to highlight deeper problems with our surveillance legislation. Under the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) everybody’s communications data is being retained without suspicion of wrongdoing. Under RIPA no judicial authorisation is required to access the retained data and the data may be accessed for very broadly defined purposes. The case of Tom Newton Dunn is a reminder that these powers are not always used to fight terrorism or serious crime.

The current debate has so far centred around law enforcement's access to journalists' communications data. It's true that journalists and their sources require privacy, but so does everyone else. And even if the police were not allowed to acquire journalists' communications records, the wider population including journalists, would still have all their communications data retained.

We need an overhaul of our surveillance laws so everyone’s right to privacy is respected, including that of journalists. A new law should ensure (amongst other safeguards) that communications data is only retained on a targeted basis (or for business purposes) and that all requests to access data are judicially authorised.

All of our recommendations for reforming surveillance law are available in our joint report, Don’t Spy on Us: Reforming Surveillance in the UK.

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October 03, 2014 | Elizabeth Knight

Join ORG to fight increasing surveillance and attacks on our human rights

This week, Theresa May announced that the government intends to revive its proposals to extend surveillance through a new Snoopers’ Charter. A new Communications Data Bill would extend data retention and access beyond the level that has already been found to breach fundamental rights.

David Cameron also announced that the government intends to scrap the Human Rights Act.

The details of the “British Bill of Rights” that would replace it are sketchy. But what is clear is that the government is determined to reduce the human rights protections available to ordinary people in order to avoid facing limitations on its own powers. It is precisely these limitations that allow us to defend ourselves against mass surveillance and hold our government to account.

ORG is already fighting mass surveillance and defending the right to privacy in the courts. It’s proving very successful: we have a high chance of forcing the government to admit that their surveillance powers are too broad and not sufficiently controlled.

We are challenging the government’s surveillance practices before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as one of the applicants in the ‘Privacy not Prism’ claim. We are questioning the legal framework under which the intelligence services receive and use data from the NSA's “PRISM” and “UPSTREAM” programmes. We are aguing that the current framework is inadequate to comply with the “in accordance with the law” requirement of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). We are also challenging GCHQ’s “TEMPORA” programme, which involves the interception of data from transatlantic fibre-optic cables, under general and rolling RIPA warrants. We highlight that this interception is  indiscriminate and generic. We believe the RIPA provisions for external communications warrants breach the “in accordance with the law” and proportionality requirements of Article 8.

The ECtHR has recognised the importance of this case by giving it priority status. The case is currently adjourned pending judgment in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) case brought by other human rights NGOs. We expect it to proceed in 2015 following the judgment in the IPT case. 

We are also involved in a legal challenge to the new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA). Tom Watson MP and David Davis MP have launched a judicial review of the lawfulness of DRIPA, asserting it is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. We are seeking to make a third party intervention in the case. We will make submissions on the relevance of the EU context, in particular the restrictions contained in the EU data protection framework on the retention of personal data. We will contend that DRIPA is overly broad of in light of the clear guidance given by the CJEU in the Digital Rights Ireland case.

The parties have agreed not to oppose our intervention and we are currently awaiting the decision of the court on our application for permission. Earlier this year ORG also mobilised 1,600 supporters to complain to their ISP about their data being retained, demonstrating that people care about this issue.

We will win on at least some of these legal battlegrounds. In doing so we will limit the government’s ability to extend surveillance still further. But the threat to our fundamental human rights is increasing and the fight against the extension of indiscriminate surveillance is intensifying. 

The only way we can stop these threats is by fighting back harder. This year, over 1,200 people have joined to help us fight DRIP, PRISM and other mass surveillance programmes. That has enabled us to take on the government in the courts. Now we need to take the fight to the election, where Theresa May and Cameron are already promising to advance the surveillance state. We can force the parties to justify their views; we can show them that the public care about this: but we can only do this with your help.

Join ORG today to support us in the fight.

 

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October 02, 2014 | Elizabeth Knight

Will we now see parliamentary footage used in parodies?

Following the coming in to force yesterday of the copyright exception for parody, ORG wonders whether the use of parliamentary broadcasts in parodies is now allowed.

Previously, broadcasters had been banned from using the footage for purposes other than reporting news. Thus satirical uses were contractually prevented.

With this question in mind we asked the Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) how it plans to deal with the new copyright exception for parody in relation to the potential reuse of parliamentary broadcasts.

The PRU responded that they don’t see a need to change the texts of the licences to use recordings Parliamentary proceedings because of the new the parody exception, but they said the licences will operate with regard to the new section of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 relating to parodies.

The PRU also referenced the right of the Parliament to deal with any question of contempt should its proceedings be abused. They referred us to remarks made by the Minister for Universities and Science.

The new section 30A CDPA will deal with “caricature, parody or pastiche”. It will provide:

(1) Fair dealing with a work for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche does not infringe copyright in the work.

(2) To the extent that a term of a contract purports to prevent or restrict the doing of any act which, by virtue of this section, would not infringe copyright, that term is unenforceable.”

So the response says that licences to use parliamentary footage will be subject to the parody exception, as we would expect, because no contractual override of the exception is allowed. Given that parody works through a copyright exception, technically it will be completely outside any existing or future licence. But we think that it would be better for Parliament to make this clear.

The use for parody of general parliamentary proceedings raises similar questions. The Open Parliament Licence - used for much of the non-audiovisual material made available by Parliament - currently stops anyone from present(ing) the information in a way that discredits the reputation or standing of either House of Parliament or their members or their officials. 

PRU’s reference to the remarks of the Minister for Universities and Science (to the Tenth Delegated Legislation Committee on 9 July 2014) appears to relate to the following exchanges:

Mr Frank Doran (Aberdeen North) (Lab):  I confess, I had not seen this particular provision before coming to this room today. Is the Minister aware that the contract that the House authorities have with the various broadcasting organisations for broadcasting the proceedings of the House bar any use apart from news programmes and specific reporting on the Parliament channel that [Column number: 6] we are all familiar with? I think that that provision in the contract was made for very good reasons, because we are the perfect target for pastiche. Has the Minister taken that into account in his consideration of how the measure will impact, and does he think he will be popular with his colleagues if he has? 

Mr Willetts:  Perhaps I can touch on that in a moment. We have special arrangements in the House, but of course, they cut both ways: on the one hand, we have special arrangements to protect parliamentary proceedings from parody; on the other hand, there are special arrangements to protect our ability to quote within the House of Commons. We can freely quote without having to secure agreement from the people who originally made the remarks or created the works that we are quoting from. In some ways, we are trying to extend to other institutions across the UK the rights that we have given ourselves in this House. 

[Column number: 16]

Mr Willetts:  On parody, I confirm what I said in answer to an earlier intervention: special parliamentary arrangements protect us from parody—thank heavens. There are restrictions on using parliamentary procedures in a parody. These are deep waters and I shall not stray further into them, but those arrangements exist. 

It is quite disappointing that MPs have to reassure themselves that they will be above the law they are about to pass. But we are not so sure Mr Willetts is right.

The “special arrangements” discussed could refer to the Parliamentary Recording Unit’s licence agreements. But it seems the terms of these will not apply to parodyists owing to the parody exception.

The PRU’s response also refers to the possibility of being in ‘contempt’ of Parliament if its proceedings are abused. It is not completely clear to us what this means in the context of parody. 

According to parliament.uk, contempt “refers to disobedience to, or defiance of, an order of the House, or some other insult to the House or its dignity or a breach of parliamentary privilege. It can relate to any attempt to interfere with proceedings or to obstruct or threaten Members in the performance of their parliamentary duties. In the House of Commons contempts are referred to the Committee on Standards and Privileges but any decision must be agreed by the House…” 

We cannot find an explanation in the debate of the relevance of parliamentary contempt. We would like a clearer explanation of the circumstances (if any) in which it would be used against parodyists.

In short, having read the response of the Parliamentary Recording Unit, it remains unclear to us whether parliamentary footage may now be used in parodies.

In any case, changes to the law will have a limited impact if Parliament continues imposing technological restrictions that stop anyone from recording their taxpayer-funded broadcasts and archived footage.

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September 30, 2014 | Jim Killock

Theresa May's call for new Snooper's Charter can launch a national debate

The Conservatives have made a clear offer to the public: they are saying that they will, if elected, revive plans for the Snooper’s Charter. Massive data gathering and analysis of your online habits would become available to the police and a range of public bodies. Powers that are currently being challenged in the courts, but are in practice available to GCHQ under programmes like TEMPORA, would become an everyday policing tool.

Theresa May said:

… because the way in which we communicate is increasingly online, our ability to obtain the data we need is declining rapidly and dangerously. Over a six-month period, the National Crime Agency estimates that it had to drop at least twenty cases as a result of missing communications data. Thirteen of these were threat-to-life cases, in which a child was judged to be at risk of imminent harm. In a three-month period, the Metropolitan Police had to drop twelve cases because communications data was not available. These cases included sexual offences and potential threat-to-life scenarios relating to a suicide threat and a kidnap.



The solution to this crisis of national security was the Communications Data Bill. But two years ago, it was torpedoed by the Liberal Democrats. I’m told that the Lib Dems now tell the newspapers that “they might have to give ground on surveillance powers in a future coalition agreement”. But they also say that they have “no intention of allowing changes before the general election”. This is outrageously irresponsible, because innocent people are in danger right now. If we do not act, we risk sleepwalking into a society in which crime can no longer be investigated and terrorists can plot their murderous schemes undisrupted. We have to give the police and the security services the powers they need to keep us safe. And that is what the next Conservative government will do.

To anyone paying attention to the post-Snowden debate, this is a remarkable suggestion. Rather than promising greater oversight, democratic control, or judicial supervision, in order to justify maintenance of already-existing population-wide data trawls, the response of the Conservative Party appears to be to roll out the same powers to an ever-wider group of people and purposes. They justify this, they say, as a power against terror plots: but that argument has been busted long ago. Not only are these technologies remarkably lacking in results, according to the NSA’s own evidence, but they are already available today to terrorism investigators.

While these surveillance capabilities exist, it is less clear if they are legal and justifiable. We need to be able to trust that capabilities are limited to what is necessary to protect us. This makes any programme for mass data gathering highly dubious, as everyone is treated as a suspect on the off chance. Capabilities that are targeted at suspects are much easier to justify, understand and trust.

Sweeping up data for mass analytics and population profiling is being legally challenge by a number of campaigning groups that care about privacy. We are challenging the legal framework, alongside English Pen, Big Brother Watch and Constanze Kurz. Privacy International are challenging attempts to undermine encryption standards. Liberty are challenging as they believe they have been placed under surveillance; MPs Tom Watson and David Davis are challenging the legal basis of UK data retention, with ORG intervening in support. Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones are challenging the fact that MPs data is not protected and confidential, and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism is making the same argument about journalists seeking to protect their sources. There are other legal challenges too.

Before they start passing new laws that further violate our right to privacy, we would expect any sensible government to wait for the outcomes of these challenges to see whether our current laws already exceed human rights laws. However, as we found in the DRIP (data retention) debate, the government is not really interested in that. As the Conservatives are now saying, they in any case believe that human rights challenges are getting in the way of doing what they want.

When they make the case for repealing the Human Rights Act and limiting our commitments to Winston Churchill’s European Court of Human Rights, at ORG we remember that it is these commitments that are providing the only defence against mass surveillance, whether transparent, such as #DRIP, or secret, such as TEMPORA. The trivial, often non-examples trotted out to justify reneging on human rights look very much like a fig leaf for the removal of serious protections getting in the way of Home Office programmes ranging from DNA databases, through identity databases, to mass surveillance.

Still, no matter how extreme Theresa May’s views are, she has at least been honest enough to tell the public that a Conservative majority government will head further down the track of building the UK surveillance state. Will the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats do the same? Will the Lib Dems truly “concede” changes to surveillance laws after the election? Just as importantly, will principled Conservative MPs attempt to distance themselves from May’s speech? 

Both the Lib Dems and Labour have called for a debate: Theresa May and David Cameron have launched it, as part of their election programme. How will politicians of all parties respond? We've always said that the public need to be have their say in whether their rights to privacy and free speech are infringed in the name of mass surveillance. We will do everything we can to make sure that we get the opportunity to do this at the next year's general election.

 

 

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September 25, 2014 | David Allen Green

When can a High Court grant an injunction to trade mark holders against ISPs to block access to “infringing” websites?

Today the High Court begins hearing an important case about injunctions and the internet.

The question before the Court is whether the owner of a trade mark can obtain an injunction - not against an alleged counterfeiter, or even against the owners and operators of the websites on which counterfeiters sell their items.  The Court is instead being asked to grant an injunction against the internet service providers (ISPs), so that websites alleged to be infringing the trade marks are blocked to ISP subscribers. 

What makes this a novelty is that such injunctions seem not to have been granted before.  Whilst there is a specific statutory provision for copyright holders to obtain injunctions against third party ISPs, there is no similar provision to protect trade marks - or any other intellectual property rights (IPRs).

So, can the High Court grant such injunctions?  And, if so, what protections will there be to prevent misuse of this novel jurisdiction.

The claimants in this case are Cartier and two related companies.  They say the High Court does have this jurisdiction, under either the Senior Courts Act or the EC's Enforcement Directive (or both).  The defendants in the case - BSkyB and the other main ISPs - deny that there is any such jurisdiction.  The case starts today before Mr Justice Arnold, the experienced Chancery judge who has already decided a number of cases involving the enforcement of IPRs on the internet.

Nobody sensible wants to give comfort or support to counterfeiters. But it is not difficult to see the problems which such injunctions may cause to other people using the internet.  For example, a whole website could be blocked just because of the activities of a few sellers. Or a rights holder may threaten to apply for an injunction on the pretext of an alleged infringement when all that is happening is unwelcome consumer criticism or parody.  There is also a matter of principle: such injunctions should never be a first resort of a lazy rights holder but the limited last resort of a rights holder who has genuinely tried other available means.  And then there is the simple issue of effectiveness: injunctions should not be granted in vain and, as the websites will still exist, the orders of the Court can be still be circumvented. 

Mr Justice Arnold has kindly given permission for the Open Rights Group (ORG) to make written submissions on whether the Court has the jurisdiction to grant such injunctions and, if so, how the legitimate rights of third parties should be protected.  The submissions - written by myself, with the assistance of ORG legal director Elizabeth Knight and barrister Greg Callus - contend that should the High Court hold that it can grant the requested injunctions then it should only do so when the injunctions would be effective and proportionate, and the Court should ensure always that the legitimate rights of third parties are protected. ORG has submitted that the appropriate test to be adopted by the Court should be:

This Court should not grant an injunction against ISPs in respect of alleged infringements of trade marks or any other intellectual property right unless:

  1. the Court is satisfied that the order is proportionate, and not only proportionate as between the parties but also in respect of third parties;
  2. the Court is satisfied that the order is effective (and dissuasive, to the extent that has a different meaning); and
  3. the Court is satisfied that the order contains safeguards against abuse.

ORG has also made submissions as to what should be the relevant considerations for each limb of this test. 

In respect of proportionality, the ORG has submitted that in granting any proposed order the Court should have regard to the following:  the duration of the order and that it will not endure longer than necessary; the scope of the order and that it does not cover more websites than necessary; the relevant third parties (other than the alleged counterfeiters) and how the proposed order will affect them; whether the rights holder undertakes to compensate any third party whose lawful activities are interfered with by the order; any defences that may be available to the alleged counterfeiters; and whether the proposed order creates any barriers to any legitimate activity (including trade).

In respect of effectiveness (and dissuasion), ORG has submitted that in granting any proposed order the Court should have regard to the following: whether the remedy would be completely or only partially effective; the current states of the relevant technology and of the technological knowledge of internet users, and any evidence that the order can be circumvented; and whether any dissuasive effect is balanced against the inconveniences caused to third parties engaged in lawful activity.

And, finally, in respect of safeguards against abuse, ORG has submitted that in granting any proposed order the Court should have regard to all the following: whether the rights holder has made any real attempt (and not just perfunctory attempt) to seek a more direct remedy against the alleged infringers and the hosts of the website and that the application before it is a genuine last resort; whether the alleged infringers are engaged in commercial or non-commercial activity, and here the Court should have special regard to forms of non-commercial speech such as parody and criticism;  whether the rights holder will continue to make efforts to identify and enforce its rights directly against the domain holder and alleged counterfeiter; whether the terms of the order mean that the ISP will ensure that anyone going to the landing page(s) (including the domain holder) will have sufficient information on that page to apply to vary or discharge the order (and ideally a copy of the order); whether the terms of the order mean that the ISP will ensure that the proposed replacement landing site will serve no commercial purpose for the rights holder (and whether there will be a safeguard against the site being used by the rights holder for advertisements or redirections to commercial sites); and whether the correspondence or other conduct of the rights holder shows that the jurisdiction of the Court may be being abused.  

 As this is a test case, the written judgment will be influential.  Whilst ORG (and indeed the ISPs) are neutral in respect of the underlying alleged infringements of the trade marks in this case, it is crucial that the coercive force of a Court injunction is not granted lightly, especially where the legitimate rights of third parties will be affected.  It is hoped that, should the Court hold that it has the jurisdiction to grant the injunctions, it sets out a test to be followed which ensures that in future similar injunctions are only granted when it can be shown that the injunctions are proportionate, effective, and have safeguards for the legitimate rights of other users of the internet.

David Allen Green is a lawyer at Preiskel & Co LLP and a journalist. He is acting for ORG pro bono in this submission. 

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September 23, 2014 | Jim Killock

Help us start campaigning in Scotland

The referendum result, after one of the most exciting and inspiring political debates the UK has seen, was for Scotland to stay within the UK. ORG did not take a position on the referendum, but we feel confident that the people of Scotland have shown that they can lead a democratic renewal: something we need to be a part of.

Major questions remain. What new powers will be devolved? How will our rights be embedded into the work of the Parliament? How will Scotland respond to the collective experience of engaging in a debate about the future of the nation?

We want to place citizens’ digital rights at the heart of Scotland’s politics. Prior to the referendum, there were debates that needed a voice like ours, to explain how privacy and free speech matter. Issues like Entitlement Cards, data sharing and powers for website blocking and libel prosecutions. These questions haven’t gone away, and more powers will mean greater responsibility to get the answers right.

We now have a chance, as the result of a profound change in the levels of civic engagement in Scotland, reflected in the referendum turnout, to make ORG a leading voice to promote digital rights in Scotland.

And we are most of the way there. This summer, we started a campaign to get at least 90 new members in Scotland so we could hire a part time organiser. We have 60 new members so far.

Just 30 more will mean we can hire someone to start campaigning on these issues. If you live in Scotland, please join to help us start campaigning in Scotland. If you are an existing member, you can help by upgrading your membership.

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