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December 02, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

APIG DRM Inquiry: How important is access?

Point 5: To what extent should DRM systems be forced to make exceptions for the partially sighted and people with other disabilities? Should disabled people be exempted from DRM systems? How does DRM make life harder for people with disabilities? Are they discriminated against?

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December 02, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

APIG DRM Inquiry: Legal protection for DRM

Point 6: What legal protections DRM systems should have from those who wish to circumvent them? Should DRM be legally protected? What would the consequences of this be? What are the ramifications?

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December 02, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

APIG DRM Inquiry: Unintended consequences

Point 7: Can DRM systems can have unintended consequences on computer functionality? What are your experiences of DRM? What unintended consequences have you personally experienced?

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December 02, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

APIG DRM Inquiry: The role of the UK Parliament

Point 8: What should the role of the UK Parliament be in influencing the global agenda for DRM issues? Have your say in the comments.

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December 02, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

Digital Rights in the UK: Your Rights, Your Issues

The slightly strange thing about trying to write up the inaugural ORG event is that having spent my time arranging it, and being the person MCing it, my experience of it wasn't the same as that of the people who came and who made it such a success. I had my expectations of what I envisioned it all to be about, and those were blown out of the water pretty comprehensively, but in the best possible way. Jonathan Zittrain was a great speaker, his opening talk perfectly set the tone not just for the evening but for how we view ORG, as a voice to speak out against those who would erode our freedoms and liberties until there's nothing left. Then Lloyd Davis ran the open discussion bit which he started off by asking people what issues they were interested in. I'll admit here that I had expected people to say things like 'data retention' or 'e-voting' or 'privacy' or whatever, but they didn't. They said 'engaging with MPs', 'educating people', 'understanding what's happening in Europe', and stuff like that. I'd deliberately left the title of the event and the wording of the invitation a bit vague, but it surprised me that people were much more concerned about how we campaign than what we campaign about. Not that the topics we cover aren't of interest - they patently are - but most people seemed to be running on the assumption that we could figure that stuff out for ourselves. (And yes, we can, although it would have been interesting to find out which issues people were concerned most about.) Once people had clustered around the conversations they were interested in, my participation in the evening paused. I had meant to go round and find out what people were talking about, but I barely got to move two inches from my spot as various people came over to say hi, talk, offer ideas and help and advice. It was just great - the amount of goodwill extended towards us was fantastic, not to mention reassuring. I've always been keen that ORG be about collaboration and not some pissing contest to see who can get most attention. We had about 70 people turn up, which was just about perfect for that venue, although I'm sorry I didn't get to talk to more of you. Most people had a great time - one person mentioned that this sort of event was great because it was a rare opportunity to talk about these issues in an open forum. I happily took questions at the end, which is my job so it's nice to get a chance to do it! Of course, not everyone was happy. One young man asked "What do you do when you've finished sending out press releases?" to which I replied "Send out more press releases". But this raises a serious point and it's one we would all do well to remember. There is no endgame for ORG. There will never come a day when we say "Our work here is done. We can shut up shop and go home." There will never come a day when there are no digital rights abuses, no need to campaign, no stupid legislation to oppose. We never will finish sending out press releases. ORG is just beginning. It is a fledging organisation, trying to set up an infrastructure at the same time as campaigning on important issues that just can't wait. There's a lot we need to do. But our intention is to make ORG a lasting voice in digital rights - it will outlive me, it will outlive our current board, and eventually will pass into the hands of new activists. So, you might now be asking, what of the outcomes of the discussion? The brown paper stuck to the walls with index cards stuck to that? Where's all that information gone? Well, that's all on Lloyd's camera, and we're going to sort it out over the next week into something that makes sense, and will then put it up on a public wiki so that you can elaborate. We'll let you know when it's up. Finally, I want to thank InSync and 01Zero-One, particularly Tom Campbell, who not only provided us with the venue but also with the nibbles and drinks. Thanks also to Jonathan Zittrain and Lloyd Davis for giving up their time to come and help us get ORG off to a flying start. And thanks to everyone who turned up, and everyone who has pledged to support ORG financially. Without you guys, we'd just be an idea on the back of a napkin.

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November 29, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

ORG digital rights event update

We are pretty close to full on the event, but if you either can't come and previous had said you could, or if you want to come, let us know before 4.00pm this afternoon. After that, I can't reply to emails and you should just try pitching up to the door. To say that this event has been a sell-out would be an understatement. Next time, I think we will need a bigger venue...

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November 29, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

ORG pledge matures

The Open Rights Group membership pledge has finally matured, just in time for our inaugural event tonight and, coincidentally, just as we are about to get our membership database online for you to join up! The pledge topped out with 1002 signatories, but if you haven't signed up already, this doesn't mean that you're too late - you can still sign the pledge and still get involved with supporting ORG. I'll post more info on exactly how to become a real, proper member as soon as I have it. Meantime, thanks to everyone who has pledged, and congratulations to everyone involved in promoting and supporting ORG in its first, fledgeling phase.

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November 24, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

Data retention another step closer

Today the LIBE Committee - that's the committee of MEPs who have been 'looking after' the data retention directive - voted on whether or not they liked the amendments that have been proposed in the backroom meetings which have been going on between the various interested parties in Brussels. Thirty three MEPs voted to accept the changes, eight voted against and five abstained. As the the LIBE Committee is responsible for guiding the legislation through the law making process, their amendments will define for a large part what the final directive will look like when it's placed before the European Parliament as a whole. This, you will recall, will only happen once, in mid-December. The current state of play is this:

  1. Telcos and ISPs must retain fixed and mobile traffic data, including location data and internet log-in log-off, for 6-12 months.
  2. E-mail and VoIP logging has been rejected by the Green Party MEPs, but will probably be re-introduced as a Parliament-wide amendment when the legislation comes out of committee.
  3. Governments may, but don't have to, introduce retention for failed caller attempts. (This is an important concession to telephone companies, as they may not currently be logging this information.)
  4. The list of 'serious' criminal offences has been defined as being those crimes listed for use in the EU Arrest Warrant legislation.

Point four is a genuine concern. The arrest warrant list includes "piracy" which, if IPRED2 passes (which criminalises copyright infringement) could possibly include aiding/abetting/inciting to filesharing. The basic issues about privacy, proportionality and the contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights have not changed. The entire directive should be rejected, and once again I would urge you to email your MEP and ask them to vote against data retention.

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