September 13, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

ZDnet: Digital rights group to fight data retention

Had an hour-long conversation with Karen Gomm from ZDNet UK yesterday, which resulted in this piece about ORG and data retention (page 2, page 3). A snippet for you:

The Open Rights Group wants to take on Charles Clarke over ID cards and telecoms data, and help develop fair-use rights for digital content

A digital rights organisation, the Open Rights Group (ORG), has been formed to tackle European and UK legislation which could threaten digital and civil freedoms.

ORG will serve as a hub for other cyber-rights groups campaigning on similar digital rights issues and follows in the footsteps of the US group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Comments (2)

  1. Adam Carter:
    Sep 14, 2005 at 08:11 AM

    I've not read the article, but surely -

    "The Open Rights Group wants to take on Charles Clarke over ID cards and telecoms data, and help develop fair-use rights for digital content "

    - is wrong? While you are acting as a media hub, you have mentioned elsewhere that you aren't going to lobby or go to court.

    Perhaps this means that you need a bit more practice in getting people who you talk to, to report correctly?

    Or maybe journalists just don't "get it", which means you will really have your job cut out for you.

    Above opinion is offered in a postive frame of mind and is an attempt to be constructive.

  2. Suw:
    Sep 14, 2005 at 09:31 AM

    Couple of things. Firstly, we won't be able to lobby right from the off, nor will we have the resources to go take on court cases. That doesn't mean that we won't be able to influence people, hopefully including politicians - that is the point of having a media presence, after all.

    If we can raise money additional to the membership money, then we'll have more resources to think about stuff like lobbying and lawyers. It really is all about budget, not any anti-lobbying meme we have going (in fact, we'd love to lobby if we had the cash to support it!).

    Secondly, journalists. When I was a journalist, I used to record every interview I did and then transcribe it before I wrote up my article. That's why it took me four days to write one piece for The Guardian and probably why I will never be a full-time journalist. Most, however, don't do that - they just take notes as you speak.

    Thus the concept of 'getting the people you talk to to report correctly' is not as simple as it sounds. I can be careful of what I say - and I am very careful of what I say - but I can't force journalists to report what I want them to. I can reiterate my points and try to frame things in a way that's easy for people to get, but in my experience (which spans more than ORG), 95% of what I say will never appear in print and the other 5% will probably be everso slightly not quite what I said. It's especially bad in spoken interviews because you're relying on them writing it down accurately and then writing it up accurately.

    Some journalists, of course, are really on the ball, know their onions already and will report very accurately. But we have to accept that some pieces are going to have stuff in that is either not quite right, not quite nuanced properly, or plain wrong.

    Over time, as we will hopefully get more opportunities to talk to more journalists and provide them with more information, we'll raise both their level of understanding and the general level of discourse about these issues.

    In the meantime, I think the ZDNet article is ok. Maybe not perfect, but I am pretty pragmatic and if people can get things round about right when they don't know the area at all, then that means they are capable of getting it spot on correct next time round.

    So yes. We have our work cut out. ;-)