February 07, 2007 | Suw Charman Anderson

New account

As you might have spotted, we have now set up a account for ORG which will post links once a day to this blog. If you have a account yourself and you want to bring something to our attention, just tag it for:OpenRightsGroup. Then one of us will look at the link and decide whether to include it in our bookmarks. We'll try not to flood the blog with links, but if it turns out that there are more links that we can deal with in these daily blog posts, then we'll rejig the template and put the links in the sidebar. Please do let us know if you'd prefer that!

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February 06, 2007 | Suw Charman Anderson

links for 2007-02-06

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February 02, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Nuffield Council on Bioethics' consultation - 'Forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues'

Our submission to this consultation is available here

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January 29, 2007 | Jason Kitcat

May 2007 e-Voting Pilots Announced

Finally, two months behind schedule, the Government has announced which local authorities will be running e-voting pilots. The programme is small compared to 2003, when 14 authorities trialled remote e-voting. This year there will be only 5, with a further 6 authorities testing e-counting. We hear that many authorities weren't keen to risk e-voting in their areas, which in itself is good news.

The Government has released no information about the types of technologies or the suppliers that will be used in May 2007. This makes it difficult for us to fully assess the risks these pilots will pose to elections in those areas. In the meantime, to learn more, please do come along to our free e-voting events starting 6th February with a screening of the superb Hacking Democracy.

Also, as if by magic, we can reveal our brand new ORG e-voting microsite - dive in!

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January 29, 2007 | Glyn Wintle

Biometric data collection in schools

Greg Mulholland MP has tabled an Early Day Motion. It calls for government to address the concerns of parents over collection of biometric data in schools. Please write to your MP requesting that they add their name to this motion.

That this House is alarmed at the growing practice of schools collecting and storing the biometric details of children as young as three; notes that up to 3,500 schools use biometric software to record the data of approximately three quarters of a million children; shares parents' concerns that children's data, often including photographs and fingerprints, is stored on unregulated data collection systems and potentially insecure school computer networks and could therefore potentially be misused; notes that collecting the data from children under 12 without parental consent directly contravenes the Data Protection Act; believes that no child should have biometric information taken without the express written permission of their parents; further believes that no child should be excluded from school activities where this permission is not forthcoming; welcomes the decision by the Department for Education and Skills to update guidance to local authorities and schools; and calls on the Government to conduct a full and open consultation with stakeholders, including parents and children, on this issue as part of their redrafting process.

Biometric data collection in schools - Greg Mulholland - Early Day Motion 686

For more information see Leave Them Kids Alone and plus we have some more general advice on how to write a letter to your MP.

Our last request for you to write to your MPs over an Early Day Motion on open source software in schools resulted in 124 Signatures from MPs, a great result, lets see if we can do even better this time.

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January 22, 2007 | Suw Charman Anderson

It's that time of year again

Can you believe it's been a year since we started accepting donations? Time flies when you're campaigning! Nevertheless, a full twelve months have passed, which means that if you donated a full year's subscription last January or February and helped get ORG on its feet, the time has now come for you to decide whether what we've achieved this year deserves another donation.

The best possible way to support ORG financially is to set up a monthly standing order, for £5 or £10 per month. Having a regular monthly income allows us to plan our campaigns more easily as we can reliably predict how much money we will have to spend. Equally importantly, standing orders cost us nothing. Every time you donate via PayPal, they take a cut - for each £5 you donate we receive about £4.63, and if you donate £60 we receive £57.76. This isn't much for one transaction, but it adds up - so far, we have paid over £2400 in PayPal fees. If you pay by standing order we will receive all of your donation.

To change from PayPal to standing order, you will need to log into PayPal, locate your subscription and cancel it (see instructions below - it's not all that intuitive!). You will then need to download our standing order form, fill it in, and send it to us, or you can use our bank details on this form to set it up using your own online banking. Please use your original reference number, which will be the first six letters of your surname plus a number. If you cannot find this information (it will be listed as a reference on your PayPal subscription details page), then email us and we'll tell you.

If you signed up to donate annually via PayPal last year, please be aware that you set up a repeating payment, which means that £60 will automatically be deducted from your PayPal account upon the anniversary of your first donation. PayPal won't ask you if you want to continue your subscription, nor do we have the opportunity to accept/decline the payment, or check that it's made with your approval - PayPal will just process the payment automatically. If you can't afford to pay £60 all in one go, please do cancel your annual subscription and set up a monthly one instead.

We really do appreciate the support that you've shown us over the last year - it led directly to ORG's very considerable success in 2006. Being funded by you as private individuals says a lot to the politicians and policy makers we work with and who we are trying to influence. It says that you care enough about these issues to fund ORG. So keep it up - your support is essential to our success in 2007!

Changing from PayPal annual subscription to a monthly standing order 1. Log into PayPal 2. Go to your account overview page 3. Click on 'details' for one of your PayPal payments to ORG to bring up the Transaction Details page. At the top of the Transaction Details page you will see:

Subscription Payment Sent (ID No.XYZ) In reference to:XYZ
Where 'XYZ' are long reference numbers. You will also see your ORG reference number which is made up of the first six letters of your name and then a number - please make a note of this.

4. Click on the link after 'In reference to' and this will give you the subscription details. 5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click 'Cancel Subscription'. 6. Confirm. 7. Download the standing order form. 8. Complete the standing order form, using your ORG reference number. 9. Send it back to us at the address on the form. 10. OR use the details to set up a standing order using your own bank's online banking website. 11. After a month or so, double check with your bank to ensure that they have correctly set up the standing order - it is not unheard of for banks to make mistakes!

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January 16, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Taking the lid off e-voting

While the Department for Constitutional Affairs have left us in the dark with no news at all about the e-voting pilots due for May 2007, The Open Rights Group and FIPR have been hard at work. Elections are a cornerstone of our democracy so we're going to take the lid off the e-voting black box with an unprecedented week of unique free events. All are very welcome but spaces are limited.

Our headline event, "Electronic Voting: A challenge to democracy?" features a distinguished set of speakers with considerable practical and academic knowledge of electronic voting systems around the world. Their experiences will make for fascinating listening, we're looking forward to stimulating debate and questions from the audience.

Our workshop for activists will be the first time Europeans will have gathered together to formally discuss and organise around the challenge that e-voting presents our democracies. It will be a very exciting starting point for future collaboration.

We're also extremely proud to be able to present a special screening of "Hacking Democracy", a film which manages to make the problems e-voting poses completely accessible to a non-technical audience. It's a powerful film so we're sure that the audience will have plenty to discuss with the co-directors and MPs forming a panel at the end of the screening.

Electronic Voting: A challenge to democracy? (8th February)

Governments around the world are conducting elections using electronic voting machines, websites and even text messages. What benefits and problems have they have found? What attracts governments to evoting?

Come and hear noted experts from Europe and the US talk about the experiences so far, including e-voting machines hacked to play chess in the Netherlands and US problems that may have led to thousands of votes going missing in 2006's congressional elections. Confirmed speakers include:

Margaret McGaley (Ireland) Colm MacCarthaigh (Ireland) Anne-Marie Oostveen (The Netherlands) Dr Rebecca Mercuri (USA) Rop Gonggrijp (The Netherlands) will present a very short demonstration of how Dutch machines were hacked using a live voting machine.

This event will take place 6-8pm on February 8th at University College London. Reserve your free place and find out more here.

European Electronic Voting Activism Workshop - Sharing & Learning across Europe (8th February)

Governments around the world are increasingly drawn towards e-voting, despite the significant problems that have arisen in a number of elections. This workshop, chaired by Jason Kitcat, will bring together e-voting experts from around Europe and the US to share knowledge, ideas and experiences - frequently what happens in one country is repeated in another.

The workshop will include:

* Short country status reports from e-voting experts * A longer report from The Netherlands including an extended demonstration of hacking a Nedap machine by Rop Gonggrijp * Discussion of EFVE & EDRI (existing European umbrella organisations) * Development of an action plan on how to develop European co-operation

This event will take place 2-5pm on February 8th at University College London. Reserve your free place and find out more at here.

Screening: "Hacking Democracy" (6th February) HBO's screening of Hacking Democracy days before the 2006 US mid-term elections blew up a storm of activism around the many failings with electronic voting. The film's portrayal of supplier dishonesty and undetectable system hacks has sent shockwaves through the US political system.

We will be giving a rare UK screening of this film followed by a panel discussion with the film's co-directors Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels along with MPs from each of the major parties.

The screening will be at University College London, 6th February, starting around 7pm. Reserve your free place and find out more here.

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January 15, 2007 | Suw Charman Anderson

Welcome to Becky Hogge!

It doesn't seem like a month since we appointed Becky Hogge to the position of Executive Director, but time has flown by and today Becky begins to take over the reins from me. We'll work together for the next month to ensure a smooth handover and then it'll be down to Becky to continue to develop ORG's campaigns and membership.

I remember when we started ORG in July 2004, my aim was to build an organisation that could flourish once I had moved on. At the time, I thought it might take five years or so before that would happen, but here we are - 18 months in - with our first full-time proper member of staff. It's both surprising and exciting to have reached this point so soon. And with Gowers under our belt, I can foresee more phenomenal growth ahead of us in 2007.

For me, the best thing is that we now have someone around to do a lot of the things that I had planned to do, but never had time to do. I think there'll be quite a lot of progress over the next few months, as projects started months ago finally come to fruition. Plus, of course, I'm looking forward to having more time to blog here - something that's been sorely lacking!

So, please join me in welcoming Becky to ORG. She's a superb asset, and I'm chuffed as a small horse to be working with her!

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  • ORG Cambridge: Monthly March Meetup