July 11, 2006 | Glyn Wintle

700,000 children fingerprinted by schools

Children are being threatened with exclusion from school unless they submit to being fingerprinted, reports Leave Them Kids Alone. This Daily Mirror story illustrates the size of the problem:

FURY erupted yesterday after it emerged an estimated 700,000 children are being fingerprinted at school.

Systems in 3,500 primary school libraries allow pupils to take out books by scanning their thumb prints instead of using a card.

But campaigners warn the technology is a massive invasion of privacy and a step towards a "database state".

With an average primary school size of 200 pupils, pressure group No2ID says at least 700,000 pupils are regularly having their fingerprints scanned.

Fingerprint scandal of 700,000 kids - The Daily Mirror

For more on children's rights, visit the ARCH website.

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July 11, 2006 | Glyn Wintle

Commission Cheats European SMEs in Patent Consultation

The European Commission has been consulting on the future of Europe's patent regime and, as always, the FFII have been doing a good job of monitoring their progress. Fears that this was a third attempt to legalise software patents in Europe prompted a large number of SMEs, software developers and bigger IT firms to respond, but it seems that the Commission did not like the answers they got:

The Commission made an undercover move to get more "useful" answers following the 12 April closing date of its Patent Policy consultation. It sought out small firms across Europe who had used the patent system. It then provided these firms with new documentation and specialist assistance to help them write individual answers. None of the firms answering the online consultation got this help. But when the software firms in this new group came to the same conclusions as the FFII, the Commission concluded that these firms were "lacking knowledge about the patent system".

Commission Cheats European SMEs in Patent Consultation - FFII

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July 10, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

16 July, London Copyfighters Drunken Brunch and Talking Shop with Danny O'Brien

The next London Copyfighters' Drunken Brunch and Talking Shop will be held on Sunday 16 July, and it will be chaired by Danny O'Brien. We will meet upstairs at the Mason's Arms, 51 Upper Berkeley Street, Marble Arch at 12noon for brunch. The Mason's Arms is on the corner of Berkeley Street and Seymour Place. Once we are suitably lubricated (at around 2pm) we will, en mass, go to Speaker's Corner and orate on the subject of copyright, DRM, the weather -- whatever. Speaking isn't mandatory, but it IS highly encouraged. Photos from past events are on Flickr. Please let me know if you are coming by signing up on the ORG wiki page so that I can get an idea for how much food to order. Nearest underground station is Marble Arch. Turn right at the top of the escalators, then right as you leave the station, then right down Great Cumberland Place, then left down Upper Berkeley Street. The Mason's Arms is on the corner of Seymour Place and Upper Berkeley Street. Any problems, please call Suw on 020 7096 1079 (which redirects to my mobile). Hope to see you there!

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July 07, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

IPPR/Reuters - The Long Tail: Opportunities in a New Marketplace

The IPPR and Reuters held a seminar on Tuesday 4 July about the 'long tail' and niche marketing, and how it relates to IP. Speakers were Shaun Woodward MP; Chris Anderson, Wired; Azeem Azhar, Reuters. As usual, I took copious notes, a habit which will become redundant if all organisers provide the level of recording that the IPPR has for this seminar. You can read the official summary, and you can listen to Part 1: Shaun Woodward MP, Chris Anderson, Azeem Azhar (21.1MB), and Part 2: Questions from the floor and responses (16.8MB). My notes from the event are over on Strange Attractor.

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July 07, 2006 | Glyn Wintle

EC want to regulate internet TV

The "TV Without Frontiers" directive is a proposed piece of European legislation that would mean that anything that appears to be television and travels over the internet is television, and therefore becomes subject to TV regulations.

The CBI, however, is unimpressed. "The European Commission seems to be ignoring the fact that opposition to the directive has been signed by the business associations of six other countries," says Jeremy Beales, the CBI's head of e-business. "The problem with this piece of legislation is that the EC has focused on television because that's all that they are interested in. Their motivation is to protect public service broadcasters and the TV industry with a catch-all piece of legislation that could affect huge numbers of websites because of a badly phrased piece of legislation."

It's TV, but not as we know it - The Guardian

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July 06, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Data retention conference in Ireland

The Irish Centre for European Law is hosting a conference on “Privacy and the Data Retention Directive” on Wednesday, 19 July 2006, from 2-6pm in Dublin. Speakers will include: Paul Durrant, Internet Service Providers Association Billy Hawkes, Data Protection Commissioner Karlin Lillington, Technology Journalist, The Irish Times Thomas O’Malley, Barrister and Senior Lecturer, NUIG T.J. McIntyre, Chairman, Digital Rights Ireland Unfortunately it's not cheap, with tickets starting at €150 for non ICEL members, #120 for members, €50 for students. There are some discounted tickets available if you don't fall into those categories but still want to go. More details on the Digital Rights Ireland blog.

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July 06, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

What do businesses know about you?

Matt Mower has made a pledge on Pledgebank to write to a supplier - say a mobile phone company - to ask them what they know about him, as per the Data Protection Act, but he needs more people to sign up. The pledge in full:

"I will perform a Subject Access Request (Data Protection Act 1998) to find out what one of my suppliers knows about me but only if 19 other people will too."

— Matt Mower, Product Manager at PAOGA Ltd.

Deadline to sign up by: 24th July 2006 1 person has signed up, 18 more needed

Country: United Kingdom

More details We all know that suppliers hold a lot of information about us and that many of them are careless with it, misuse it, and don't bother to check whether it's correct or keep it up to date. This can have serious negative consequences on our lives and is likely to continue until we take action and do something about it. 

A good start is for us to find out what our suppliers think they know about us and how they are using our data. The Data Protection Act (1998) provides a way for us to do this called a Subject Access Request. It's pretty easy to do (essentially just writing a letter) and should cost no more than £10. 
 You can find more information about the DPA and making Subject Access Requests at the Information Commissioners website, for example:

"Your Information Rights" ( "How to Access Information" (

If this pledge is successful I will make a subject access request on one of my suppliers (e.g. my cell phone provider) and then blog about the process. I'd encourage everyone who takes the pledge, if they can, to write about their experiences too.

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July 03, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Protect your bits. Support ORG.

If you've been wanting a 'Support ORG' button for your blog or website, I'm happy to say that we've now created some. In three smashing sizes, you can now exhort your visitors to protect their bits.

Here they are with code that you can cut and paste:


Support the Open Rights Group

<a href="" title="Support ORG"><img src="" width="150" height="36" alt="Support the Open Rights Group" style="border: 0" /></a>


Support the Open Rights Group

<a href="" title="Support ORG"><img src="" width="200" height="47" alt="Support the Open Rights Group" style="border: 0" /></a>


Support the Open Rights Group

<a href="" title="Support ORG"><img src="" width="308" height="70" alt="Support the Open Rights Group" style="border: 0" /></a>

And remember... your bits are vulnerable, but every new supporter we get will help us protect them.

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