August 29, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Digital Rights in Scotland: Decision Time

We believe it is time for ORG Scotland. Last year we proposed to our supporters the idea for a Scottish office that would respond to policy issues coming out of Holyrood, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

As the vote on Scottish Independence fast approaches, we are worried by the lack of a strong network of rights organisations in Scotland. We think that ORG Scotland could help to address this. We have a strong role to play in both a devolved and an independent future but with an office in Scotland we could be more effective.

If you’d like to help us to build ORG Scotland, please join today:

This referendum is about more than just voting for or against the current administration. The vote will have an impact for generations. It’s important therefore that those on both sides of the debate consider the long term issues and ensure that, whatever the outcome of the debates, human rights in Scotland are embedded in the law and fully enforceable.

Whilst ORG does not take a position on the outcome of the referendum, we believe it is absolutely necessary for digital rights to be part of the discussion. Increasingly, our day-to-day decisions involve digital rights issues. Do you buy the Smart Meter the energy company are pushing at you? Do you accept the Terms & Conditions for this free app you wanted? Do you find people unable to access your website? Are you unable to find health information online? Do you share that video, that joke, that tweet?

There are serious privacy concerns that people face in the UK: from GCHQ recording our personal emails, to the extreme levels of surveillance job seekers are placed under; there are those who are concerned about their invasion of privacy from non-state actors like stalkers, or abusers or those under electronic monitoring at work.

Every week Open Rights Group are asked to comment on issues like these and address the big questions about who is watching us, where our data is going, and what we can freely say. We need to have the same ability to comment on and campaign about these issues in Scotland. 

Whether you’re voting for Yes or Better Together, help us make this happen: Join ORG now

What is ORG doing now?

Our own work in Scotland has very much expanded in the last year. Executive Director Jim Killock has been visiting Aberdeen and Edinburgh talking to activists in Scotland about what they see for the future of Scotland. We held an ORG-Scotland Day in Edinburgh in May and we have more events lined up in the near future. For example, we will be at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Saturday October 5th, leading a session on how to reform RIPA.

We recently did some research into the effect of the introduction of network level filters by internet service providers (ISPs) across the UK. We tested Scottish charity websites through our censorship monitoring tool to see whether blocking has effected their ability to serve their communities. As reported by STV, a concerning number were blocked, including a women’s charity caring for those at risk of becoming homeless and SWAP (Scottish Wider Access Programme) a charity dedicated to helping adults learn about opportunities to access higher education. 

You can help us do more work like this. We need 60 more people to join in order to have the funds to open an office in Scotland to respond to human rights and technology issues there. We can’t do it without the support of the public.

How do I join?

Joining by Direct Debit is the best way for us. 

ORG supporters usually give between £5 and £10 each month, but please be as generous as you can afford to be. For more options read about our other ways to give.