November 14, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Release The Music: Off to a flying start!

Well, I think that the Release The Music event last night went superbly, getting our campaign off to a flying start. Jonathan Zittrain's keynote was great, giving a clear and concise overview of what copyright is and how we got to where we are with the current copyright term of 50 years on sound recordings. It was good to see Jonathan neatly illustrate the difference between property rights and copyright. The debate was just as impassioned as I had hoped it would be, with some eloquent questions from the floor and a lively response from the speakers.

I'm very much looking forward to getting the audio/video up online so that those who could not attend will be able to find out what happened. In the meantime, there's a blog post from Fernando Barrio with his take on the evening, and an article from PC Pro from our journalist briefing yesterday.

I'd like to thank:

  • All our speakers - Professor Jonathan Zittrain, John Howkins, Dave Rowntree, Caroline Wilson, Richard Mollet and Martin Talbot - for taking time out to participate in our event.
  • John Buckman of Magnatune for providing a venue for our journalists' briefing yesterday.
  • Derek Wyatt MP and his office for helping us organise the MPs briefing on Thursday.
  • The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust for funding the Release The Music campaign with a grant of £5,000.
  • And Michael Holloway, Becky Hogge, Lubna Azhaar, Mike Little, Lemon and all the ORG volunteers for helping with both the event and the site.
What next? Last night's event was the culmination of over a month's work, but it's really just the beginning of our campaign. On the Release The Music site we have a number of things that you can do to support our efforts, including sign our petition (according to Martin Talbot, Music Week got 2000 names and AIM got 4000 names in favour of extension which they presented to the Gowers Review, so we have a way to go to match those), blog about our campaign and the issues involved, or write to your MP.

Whatever you do, don't do nothing. The music industry has a lot of resources, but we have you, and your voice is important.

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November 13, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Release The Music: Today's the day!

Our Release The Music campaign is starting to get underway. Last Thursday, myself, ORG Chair Louise Ferguson, journalist Becky Hogge and lawyer Lubna Azhaar gathered at Portcullis House to give an briefing to MPs, peers and their staff. Due to Parliament being prorogued (temporarily suspended) prior to the Queen's Speech, attendance wasn't quite as good as we would have liked, but nevertheless we had a very useful session. Today we have our lunchtime briefing for journalists, and our public event at Conway Hall at 6pm tonight. I've closed registration, but if you want to come, please just show up as we've a few spare spaces. Although all our work over the last month or two has been focused on today, really, this event is only the start. We'll continue to expand the website, adding more information and content up there. And we're already in talks about another couple of events that we might be able to pull together with some very interesting partners. I'm very excited about tonight, but I'm even more excited that soon I'll be able to start thinking about the next step in our campaign. Meantime, if you agree that the term of copyright protection given to sound recordings should remain at 50 years, please sign our petition.

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November 12, 2006 | Glyn Wintle

Trustguide and ID Cards

Trustguide reports on our views, beliefs and needs regarding trust, security and privacy in relation to new technologies. We like it very much - It should be required reading for politicians! Over the last 15 months HP and BT, in conjunction with the DTI, hosted workshops across the UK on a broad range of topics (detailed below). The document is full of participant-responses and is a treasure trove of quotes for journalists.

Topics under consideration:

  • Trust versus risk
  • E-Commerce: Risk and Responsibility
  • Factors that impact on risk taking
  • Mitigated risk
  • ID cards: An aid to security?
  • Use of Biometric data
  • Privacy and health information
  • E-Government and Public Sector IT
  • Awareness and education
  • Use of public access terminals

On the issue of ID Cards, Trustguide concludes we are more concerned with increased vulnerability resulting from a flawed system, than the apparent threat to security which it purports to address. This attitude was revealed despite presenting ID cards as an aid to security and a means of easily identification and authentication.

“I feel more vulnerable having all my data like personal details held in one place electronically than I would having ten separate paper documents held in different places.” “Everything I’ve read on ID cards shows that they are just crossing their fingers; they actually believe that it will be secure and I don’t believe that, not at all.”

Some participants described the cards and database as significantly modifying the relationship between our government and the people, in that all pervasive surveillance is now acceptable. Indeed, some interpet the shift as a sign that government no longer trusts its citizens.

“One of the fundamental problems with ID cards to me is they change the relationship between the citizen and the government of the country.” “If ID cards are brought in it’s now officially legitimate for the government to know who I am and where I am all the time, no matter where that is and it’s officially legitimate. We can no longer complain about CCTV cameras and car registrations and GPS cell phones because we’ve passed legislation saying the government has a right to know who I am and where I am any time they want.”

Very few thought ID cards would aid personal or national security. Concerns were instead directed at Government’s ability to securely hold ID data.

“I don’t think the government are very good at IT and it’s bound to get hacked.” “It won’t make us more secure, that’s rubbish, it’s a hacker’s dream, terrorists will be the first people to hack into it.” “If the government isn’t going to be open about what they’re doing then that means the security must be poor because nobody is checking it, nobody is pointing out the mistakes they’re making, so somebody will find a way in. There may be all these secret plans for what will happen if it goes wrong but surely they should be open about it, if we’re supposed to trust them.”

As NO2ID have stated repeatedly - its not the card that is the threat, but the accompanying database. Trustguide shows the general population now also shares this concern.

“It’s not so much the card that’s the problem as the database, the fact that the government are putting all the data they have about me in one place creates vulnerability. It’s nothing to do with the card itself.”

Approximately half of workshop attendees said they would not voluntarily carry an ID card as described by the current ID Card Bill.

“Why should I allow the State to hold information about me? To what purpose? Who’s in charge of my life, me or the State?”

Concerns were also expressed in terms of function or mission creep. This results from a lack of foresight in how gathered data will be used, particulary how the data might be applied in future. Finally, there was little faith in ID cards achieving Government's stated objectives.

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November 07, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Release The Music: Final speaker confirmed

We have finally confirmed our line-up for the Release The Music event on Monday 13 November at the Conway Hall in Holborn, with the addition of Richard Mollet from the British Phonographic Industry. 6.00pm - Registration 6.30 - 7.30pm - Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Oxford University 7.30 - 8.30pm - Should the term of copright protection on sound recordings be extended? Moderator: John Howkins, Adelphi Charter For: Richard Mollet, Director of Public Affairs, BPI; Martin Talbot, Editor, Music Week Against: Dave Rowntree, Blur; Caroline Wilson, Southampton Law School 8.30 - 10.00pm - A pre-1955 DJ set 10.00pm - Close There are still tickets left, so sign up now if you would like to come. releasethemusic

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November 06, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Dave Rowntree to speak at Release The Music

I'm delighted to announce that Dave Rowntree from Blur will be taking part in our debate about the extension of the term of copyright protection for sound recordings. He'll join Caroline Wilson from the University of Southampton, School of Law arguing against extension, and will be facing Martin Talbot, Editor of Music Week and an as yet unnamed music industry representative who will be arguing in favour. John Howkins from the Adelphi Charter will moderate.

Our keynote speaker will be Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. We'll make sure that there will be plenty of opportunities for questions from the floor after both the keynote and during the panel discussion.

We're also arranging for the event to be recorded, and hope to be able to post both audio and video afterwards. We can't live stream it, unfortunately, because the venue doesn't have internet access.

If you want to come, please sign up online for your free tickets. Details are:

Date Nov 13, 2006

Time 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Location Conway Hall 25 Red Lion Square London, WC1

We hope to see you there!

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November 06, 2006 | Michael Holloway

As the world pulls back from e-voting, the UK opts for more pilots

Guest post by Jason Kitcat

Summary: This post summarises the newly announced UK e-voting pilots for 2007 and provides action you can take to help stop the pilots.

On October 17th the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Electoral Commission officially announced a prospectus for electoral pilots in May 2007. Pilots can include:

* Internet voting * Telephone voting * Polling place electronic voting machines * Electronic counting * Administrative innovations such as early voting

Explicitly excluded are text message voting, digital TV voting and all-postal voting.

Local authorities have been given until 17th November to apply to run a pilot in their area, although it’s clear that at least some authorities were already preparing their applications before the announcement.

This announcement comes at a time when e-voting has been increasingly recognised around the world as a threat to democratic elections. For example:

* The Netherlands has withdrawn e-voting machines by one manufacturer due to vulnerabilities including emitting radio signals which reveal how votes are being cast. The other brand used has been the subject of a widely reported analysis finding multiple major vulnerabilities. more info

* The Canadian province of Quebec has withdrawn all electronic voting machines from elections. This was after a damning report by the province’s chief electoral office into a controversial and problematic election in 2005. more info

* The Republic of Ireland has a moratorium on the use of their e-voting machines after an independent commission found significant problems. more info

* A Japanese municipal authority have shelved e-voting after the result of a 2003 council election was voided. more info

The United States was the first country to make widespread use of voting machines, starting with the lever machines in 1892. Since the 1970s, when electronic machines began to be used, there have been many detailed reports on the fraud, errors and usability problems experienced culminating in the infamous 2000 Presidential election.

Whether allegations can be proved or not, the doubt that electronic voting systems sow in the minds of voters make any outcome open to debate, which ends up undermining our democracy. Because the results are electronic it’s impossible to know what really happened, whether votes were really stored as the voters intended of if they were changed later on.

E-voting makes fraud on an unimaginable scale possible as never before. Electoral fraud is a problem we need to deal with in this country, as recent convictions have shown.

E-voting, unlike e-commerce, is a difficult technical problem where you need to ensure that voters are who they say they are, that they haven’t already voted and can do so secretly. Remote e-voting, from home or work, threatens our secret vote opening electors to vote-buying, peer pressure and threats. E-voting is also incredibly expensive, for a Sheffield pilot the cost was at least £55 per vote cast!

More information about e-voting:

* Communications of the ACM: Special Issue on E-Voting * Jason Kitcat’s e-voting pages * Rebecca Mercuri’s e-voting pages * Louise Ferguson’s e-voting pages * Voting Machines Pro Con (US site but a useful, balanced, overview)

What can we do about it?

There is easy immediate action we can take to stop pilots happening. A pilot will only be approved if a local council applies to take part. So until the application deadline of 17th November we need to ask councillors to get assurances that your council won’t be applying to run an e-voting pilot.

Brighton & Hove and Camden Councils have already ruled out pilots thanks to people contacting their councillors

The areas most likely to apply are those who have already run an e-voting or e-counting pilot so if you live in one of the following areas it’s vital that you take action:

* Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council * Bolton Metropolitan Council * Broxbourne Borough Council * Chester City Council * Chester-le-Street District Council * Chorley Borough Council * Crewe & Nantwich Borough Council * Derwentside District Council * Epping Forest District Council * Ipswich Borough Council * Kerrier District Council * Liverpool City Council * London Borough of Newham * Rugby Borough Council * Rushmoor Borough Council * St Albans City & District * Sheffield City Council * Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council * South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council * South Oxfordshire District Council * South Somerset District Council * South Tyneside Council * Stratford on Avon District Conucil * Stroud District Council * Swindon Borough Council * Vale Royal Borough Council * Wear Valley District Council * City of Westminster

Contact your councillor via WriteToThem politely asking them to ensure your council doesn’t waste local tax payers’ money on electronic voting pilots. Remember to do it before 17th November!

Please email me the responses you get.

We will be organising an e-voting event in the New Year and will let you know more about that soon.

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November 06, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Seven days to apply

If you are interested in taking over the role of Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, don't forget that our deadline for applications is 13 November, i.e. next Monday. More information on this blog post.

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October 27, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Release The Music asks: Are you a blogger or podcaster?

If you write a music/MP3 blog, a law/copyright blog, or you are a podcaster and would like to come to the ORG press briefing on copyright term extension for sound recordings, 2pm on Monday 13th November, please contact Michael with your URL and preferred email address and we'll send you a proper invitation with all the details. We have very few places, so please contact us as soon as possible.

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: E-voting's Unsolvable Problem-->
  • ORG Glasgow: A discussion of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
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  • ORG Cambridge: Monthly March Meetup