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December 06, 2013 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

A milestone for Open Rights Group: 2000 supporters

This December Open Rights Group is approaching 2000 supporters. We look back at all that has happened in 2013 and celebrate our community growth.


We are really proud of what we've achieved in 2013. We've become louder and more effective at defending your rights. We've seen an enormous amount of interest in our campaigns, with unprecedented numbers responding to Government consultations through us, and thousands signing our petition against mass filtering of the Internet.

Open Rights Group was founded in 2005 when a group of activists pledged their support for creating the first UK digital rights organisation. Since then we've grown rapidly in capability and reach, appearing frequently in the national press and having an impact on technology laws through giving evidence to those drafting bills and organising supporter led campaigns. We now have 7 staff, (3 full time and 4 part time) a dedicated Advisory Council and a fantastic group of volunteers and interns who help make it all happen.

The greatest growth has been in our brilliant community of supporters. Thank you to all who have joined ORG and those who taken part in our campaigns. We are now at a huge landmark for Open Rights Group:

Can you help us reach 2000 supporters?

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We have nearly doubled in size since we were formed. We started this year with 1500 and the fact that we are rapidly approaching 2000 this December is dramatic evidence that people are passionately concerned about their rights online.

Help us reach the 2000 supporters milestone, and become part of this movement for change.

Please consider joining ORG, enabling us meet the many challenges to digital rights we will face next year.

Here are some of the big things our supporters have helped ORG achieve in 2013:

Stopping the Snoopers' Charter

We led the campaign that got the Snoopers' Charter dropped. Our evidence to the committee in Parliament scrutinising the Communications Data Bill influenced their damning final report. Our Digital Surveillance report and letter-writing actions gave MPs realistic alternatives to blanket snooping.

Challenging PRISM and TEMPORA

We immediately responded to Edward Snowden's leaks of agencies spying on the population by organising a campaign for parliamentary scrutiny of GCHQ. Thanks to donations we're also running a European legal challenge, with Big Brother Watch and English PEN, against UK surveillance practices on the basis that they breach our human rights.

Fighting to keep Facebook from controlling your personal information

We are part of a coalition of European civil liberties groups campaigning for new privacy-friendly data protection laws. We met with MEPs and helped supporters petition theirs, trying to ensure that the new Regulation keeps you in control of personal data.

Monitoring and documenting UK censorship

We have fought for greater transparency in the use of court orders to censor material on the net. We're also exposing secret court orders mandating the blocking of websites through our www.451unavailable.org project.

We also ran a petition against Cameron's plans for default-on filters of the Internet. These proposals ignore free speech issues so we demanded that ISPs tell us how the filters will work in practice and what they will actually block. We've seen some responses from them to us on issues of over-blocking as filtering is rolled out.

Defending the right to parody

Thanks to overwhelming responses from supporters to the Hargreaves Review we're expecting reforms that will broaden consumer rights and make it legal for people to create parodies using copyrighted works, like Downfall videos.

Exposing sales of your data
We uncovered the full story of how mobile companies like EE sell data about you. We held them accountable at a public meeting in Parliament and are exposing their possible exploitation of loopholes in the law.

These are some great successes, but there's even more we need to do.

Open Rights Group provides a vital campaigning voice for digital rights. Governments are very keen to legistlate to control the Internet. We expect to see even more problems next year as default Internet filtering is fully rolled out, the Government looks at censoring more types of content, continued efforts to campaign against mass surveillance from NSA and GCHQ as well as the negotiations towards the "TTIP" trade agreement between the EU and the US.

In 2014 ORG hope to be:

  • Speaking to MPs about surveillance reform
  • Leading supporter activism
  • Monitoring over-blocking of websites on default filters
  • Working with UKCCIS, a body set up to discuss online child safety issues, to improve the approach to over-blocking through dialogue with government and ISPs.
  • Pressing on behalf of website owners for easy ways to have correct blocking mistakes, reviewing what falls under filters
  • Providing a knowledgable rights-focused voice to the press on technology issues.
  • Running educational training for lawyers and journalists on online security
  • Producing a report into the impacts of PRISM and Tempora on UK businesses
  • Running an MP Lobby Day to mass petition Parliament for change

These are big tasks and we can't do them without more support.

Please consider joining ORG with a regular donation. Most supporters give £5/month, but please give as much as you are able.

How do I join?

Please set up a Direct Debit. Direct Debits are the best way to join ORG: it’s cheaper for us to do the paperwork and means more of your hard earned cash can make a difference.

You can also set up a PayPal subscription if you prefer not to use Direct Debit.

Or you can make a one-off donation to us. You can do this via PayPal, Flattr or by making a cheque payable to Open Rights Group.

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