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July 03, 2013 | Ed Paton Williams

ORG's next challenge

We've got a huge challenge on our hands. You've probably read about Edward Snowden's leaks revealing the NSA's PRISM and GCHQ's Tempora mass surveillance programmes.


Here in the ORG office, they've managed to both shock us and confirm our worst suspicions.

What's the problem?

We now know the US can monitor what up to 95% of the world's population does online. If you use the services provided by US firms like Google, Skype and Facebook and you're a non-American outside the USA, the US Government simply doesn't accept your right to privacy.

And US intelligence shares what they learn from their snooping with the UK.

Not wanting to be outdone, the UK has been spying on the web's 2 billion users and working with the US to analyse the data.

The problem here is RIPA - the British law governing surveillance and enabling Tempora. No-one's broken any laws because the law's already broken. So we badly need to reform RIPA.

By abusing loopholes in RIPA, GCHQ is tapping undersea cables to intercept staggering quantities of people's web data as it enters Britain. They're then storing all that data for 3 days and the metadata for 30 days

And the Snoopers' Charter?

You might well have been thinking, "The Home Office were a bit cheeky trying to get the Snoopers' Charter through when they could do all this anyway."

And you'd be right.

Even without the Snoopers' Charter, GCHQ's been able to intercept terrorists' web use for at least 3 years. But the Home Office argued that they needed the Snoopers' Charter to get intelligence on terrorists.

Now that claim seems even more nonsensical and misleading than it did at the time.

ORG was at the forefront of the campaign against the Snoopers' Charter. We worked really hard to:

  • inform and influence politicians, the media and other NGOs so everyone knew the problems with the Government's plans
  • help ORG supporters tell the Government why they opposed the Snoopers' Charter
  • produce our Digital Surveillance report to present everyone with a better alternative - accountable and targeted surveillance

And it worked! Thanks to the huge opposition to the plans, Nick Clegg blocked the Snoopers' Charter.

How can we stop RIPA now?

With Tempora and RIPA, we've got an even greater challenge.

If we want to reform RIPA to stop GCHQ abusing the law and invading everyone's privacy, there's a lot to do.

We really need to:

  1. Grow ORG's base of digital rights activists even further so we can maintain public pressure
  2. Spend more time talking to politicians and the media so we can keep pushing for reform of RIPA
  3. Keep on doing the in-depth research and policy work that will provide the arguments to win the debate on surveillance

Inevitably, increasing the amount of work we do costs more money.

At the moment, about 30,000 people subscribe to ORG's emails and take part in our campaigns. But only around 1,700 supporters chip in an average of £5 a month to help fund our work.

ORG needs more supporters to help us take on RIPA

If you haven't joined ORG yet, it's the perfect time to get even more involved with ORG's work by joining us as an ORG supporter.

As well as the knowledge that you're helping defend everyone's digital rights, you'll also get a free copy of Tim Wu's The Master Switch when you donate £5 a month or more.

And if you join ORG before 10AM on Friday 5th July (that's this Friday) you'll automatically be entered into a draw to win two tickets to see Graham Linehan's The Ladykillers.

The winner will go to London's West End for the prestigious Press Night performance on Tuesday 9th July. After the show, you'll go to the after-show party with the cast and producers of the show.

So...defend privacy and freedom of expression, become a member of the UK's biggest digital rights movement and get a chance to see one of the best new plays around.

I hope you decide that now's the right time to join ORG. We really need your help.

And if I'm already an ORG Supporter?

If you are already a paying ORG supporter, thank you! Your support helped ORG fight off the Snoopers' Charter, win the campaign for changes to copyright law and defend consumer rights on the Internet.

Can you help spread the word by sharing the link to our Join page to your friends, family and followers?

Click the buttons below to help ORG to ask people to join you as a supporter.

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