call +44 20 7096 1079

Press releases

Press releases


September 22, 2010 | Florian Leppla

MPs fail to scrutinise ACTA, confirms IPO

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has confirmed that MPs have not seen the current text of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The IPO, making these comments in a meeting ORG attended, also said that the DCMS Select Committee has not discussed the treaty with the IPO at any stage. Despite its name important parts of ACTA deal with copyright enforcement.

Florian Leppla, Campaigner at the Open Rights Group, said:

“I'm shocked that this international agreement that goes well beyond existing copyright treaties has not been examined by Parliament.1 ACTA will affect all of us and our elected representatives need to know what we are signing up to.

"Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, has questioned the legality of ACTA under EU privacy laws.2

"ACTA would allow for disporportionate civil copyright damages well beyond current UK law.3 Yet we have been told that changes in law would not be necessary.

"ACTA will drive the UK towards privacy violations, and commit governments to act against personal copyright infringement. It will be used as a weapon to push for new erosions of fundamental rights - without anyone from our Parliament having taken a serious look."

 

1 The only public release of the ACTA text was published in April, http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/html/146029.htm.

2 Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the current negotiations by the European Union of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), http://www.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/webdav/site/mySite/shared/Documents/Consultation/Opinions/2010/10-02-22_ACTA_EN.pdf.

3 As set out in s97(1) Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

[Read more]


September 14, 2010 | Florian Leppla

45 million internet users face higher bills

Using the internet will become more expensive as a result of the Government's announcement today to include ISPs in the cost of the letter writing regime following the Digital Economy Act.

Reacting to the Government's statement today, Florian Leppla, Campaigner at the Open Rights Group said:

"Is it right to take up to £500 million out of the economy in the middle of a recession and waste it on a scheme that is unlikely to bring any benefits?1

"It would be much better if rightholders spent that money on finding new online content services.

"The Government's own figures show that up to 96,000 that belong to families that may  be unable to afford an internet connection.

"Rightholders wanted the Digital Economy Act. It benefits them so they should pay the full costs for its implementation."

-ends-


1 The Government estimated the costs for the implementation for ISP at a total £290-500m: Digital Economy Act 2010: Impact Assessment, April 2010 (p55,78).

[Read more]


June 24, 2010 | Jim Killock

NEWS: EU data protection complaint to UK is justified and timely

Welcoming Vice-President Viviane Reding's continuing infraction proceedings against the UK, calling for the UK's Information Commissioner to have the powers supposedly granted under the Data Protection Directive, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"Data protection in the UK is weaker than it should be. Powers to fine and inspect private companies are vital. Nor does UK law recognise the idea of 'moral damage' from data intrusions, but will only punish provable financial harm.

"The new government has a great chance to strengthen UK law and make good on the coalition's desire to protect our citizen's privacy."

Vivian Reding's press release can be read here.

 

[Read more]


May 28, 2010 | Florian Leppla

Absurd lack of clarity in Ofcom's draft code

Responding to Ofcom's Initial Obligations Code, released today, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"This is another extremely rushed process, forced by the Digital Economy Act's absurd timetables. There are huge unanswered questions, not least whether innocent people will have to pay to appeal.

"Government needs to draw a clear line between the notifications and potential disconnection regimes. Otherwise, Ofcom can't tell people what these accusations mean, which is absurd.

"Both Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, and the Liberal Democrats recognised the likely flaws of the Act during the debates. It is Mandelson's Act and they should not feel obliged to do his dirty work."

[Read more]


February 05, 2010 | Jim Killock

Joint Committee on Human Rights demands rights for internet users

 

Commenting on the Joint Committee on Human Rights condemnation of the Digital Economy Bill, Jim Killock, Executive Director the Open Rights Group said:
"The Lords have highlighted some of the serious problems with this Bill.
"We urge the front benches to take a hard look at this, and guarantee rights to a fair trial and proportionate punishments. Disconnection is draconian and unpredicabley damaging - that is not how law should work."

Commenting on the Joint Committee on Human Rights report on the Digital Economy Bill, Jim Killock, Executive Director the Open Rights Group said:

"MPs and Lords have highlighted some of the serious problems with this Bill.

"We urge the front benches to take a hard look at this, and guarantee rights to a fair trial and proportionate punishments. Disconnection is draconian and unpredicabley damaging - that is not how law should work."

 

[Read more]


November 20, 2009 | Jim Killock

Digital Economy Bill: reaction

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“People’s rights are at stake. The Bill doesn’t require any test of evidence before harsh punishments are imposed on people accused of copyright infringement, and opens the door to a ratcheting up of unwarranted powers without democratic scrutiny.

“There is a massive swell of action against this Bill, led by creators, citizens and people working in digital industries, who are outraged by this attempt by old businesses to hijack our rights.”

[Read more]


October 19, 2009 | Jim Killock

Poll shows Mandelson’s disconnection plans is vote loser

Nearly half of respondents would be less likely to vote for a party supporting disconnection

A new YouGov poll for the Open Rights Group shows that nearly a third (31%) of UK citizens would be much less likely to vote for a party that supported internet disconnection for online copyright infringement. A further 13% would be a ‘little less likely’: in total, 44% would be less likely to vote for a party that supported such a policy.

Nearly three quarters (73%) said if they were disconnected, they would find their ability to use vital commercial services, such as shopping and banking, completely disrupted or fairly harmed. Over 40% said their ability to work or gain an education would be harmed.

When asked to choose, respondents also supported the right to a trial before punishments are imposed.

68% said that, if the Government’s proposals go ahead, a court should consider the evidence before restrictions are imposed, while only 16% were in favour of automatic procedures based on accusations, as is currently proposed.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“This poll shows people rely on the internet, and an overwhelming majority think that access should only ever be withdrawn as the result of court action. Nearly a third would be much less likely to vote for a party that supports disconnection proposals.

“Only a tiny number – 16% - think the government has got this right.

“Clearly Mandelson is out of step with public opinion and should think again.

“MPs should take note, and sign the cross-party Early Day Motion opposing these extreme proposals.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1967 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 15th October 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[Read more]


October 15, 2009 | Jim Killock

Parliament’s credibility undermined by back track on citizens’ rights

Amendment 138, guaranteeing Internet access and protecting fundamental civil liberties, is being watered down by Parliamentary negotiators seeking a compromise with the EU Council.
Jim Killock said:

“Parliament’s credibility is being fatally undermined just as they are about to be given a stronger role defending our rights.

“It is galling that the MEP’s negotiator Catherine Trautmann wants to agree that restrictions to internet access and fundamental freedoms can be imposed pretty much at will.

“This goes directly against the intentions of the 88% of the Parliament that voted for citizens’ to have guarantees of their fundamental rights.

“Since 2004, Parliament has lost every battle with the Council. This means that member states can negotiate their citizens rights away behind closed doors: unless the EU Parliament develops some back bone.

“If I were an MEP right now, I would be asking some very tough questions of their negotiators, who are busy consigning Parliament to a long future as a rubber stamp.”
Full details can be found at La Quadrature du Net’s press release.

[Read more]


October 05, 2009 | Jim Killock

Royal Mail stop job search

Royal Mail: sacking workers and closing down service helping them find new jobs over IP dispute

A number of non-profit online services face closure today, after Royal Mail sent a cease and desist letter to free post code campaigners.

The services affected include Job Centre Pro Plus, which allows you to find jobs near you. Royal Mail is currently looking to slim its workforce of 121,000 postal workers.

Royal Mail today sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to Ernest Marples Ltd, the organisation providing a post code API allowing social projects to use post code searches.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“It’s outrageous that Royal Mail should be sacking workers and at the same time trying to close a service that might help them find work.

“Post codes were created with public money, so they need to be used for the widest public benefit. Ernest Marples have been showing how this can be done. Their ideas need to be legalised for non-profit use, not shut down.

“Intellectual Property rules need to work for society, and not the other way round.

“An amicable solution to allow non-commercial use of post code data would be easy to create, even ignoring the wider innovation benefits of making the data free to use. Clearly, something that allows greater use of post codes is needed right now.

“Better access to information means more social and democratic benefits.

“Services have to pay around £4000 a year to use post code data legally; which raises Royal Mail around £1.3m a year. It is easy to see that large numbers of small business ideas and not for profit services are being blocked by these license fees – it is in effect a tax on innovation.”

Other services facing closure include Planning Alerts, which finds planning applications near your post code, and The Straight Choice, detailing election leaflets and their claims by post code.

The campaigners behind Ernest Marples are programmers Richard Pope and Harry Metcalfe. Harry is also a member of ORG’s board. Harry is taking no part in ORG’s campaigning on this issue.

[Read more]


October 02, 2009 | Jim Killock

Industry expert to Mandelson: legalise it!

TONIGHT Media Futurist Gerd Leonhard, will say that musicians, labels and government need to focus on their wallets rather than technology if they are to save music from the threat of illicit music downloads on the internet.

Speaking ahead of the event, the “Future of Music-Stop disconnection”, Gerd (who advises many of Europe’s top Internet Service Providers) said;

"Music industry lobbyists are saying unpaid downloads are killing our business. In response, the UK government is now considering legislation that would allow people who illicitly download to be disconnected from the Net without a court process.

This leaves many musicians scared and perplexed, some arguing for disconnection, others for their own fans to be restricted to dial up speed internet. Neither will see the artists or labels paid more or the relentless advance of online music sharing halted.”

“Back when Radio was still illegal, the arrival of the PPL and MCPS/PRS collective music licences opened the door for proper payment for music performed in public. We now need the government to legislate for music online, and mandate the creation of a Digital Music License that will put money into the pockets of the creators while giving the consumers what they want, at the same time.”

Notes to editors

  • Gerd Leonhard, Media Futurist and Co-Author of "The Future of Music", Author of "Music 2.0" who advises many of Europe’s top Internet Service Providers and telecoms companies as well as many companies in the content industries (Gerd’s blog is at www.mediafuturist.com)
  • Gerd will be speaking at the Stop Disconnection event - http://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2009/stop-mandelsons-disconnection-plans

[Read more]