Over the next year ORG will focus on consolidating its position within the digital rights landscape as a reliable evidence-based campaigning group, and on expanding its supporter base and services to the public.
Over the coming year, ORG will seek opportunities to continue to inform policy makers and public discourse effectively and offer vital clear evidence to those who need to understand the effects of technology on civic life.
As well as ensuring the continued impact of our campaigns to date, we will build up our work on the other relevant campaign issues that have been identified by our 20-strong Advisory Council. Many of these issues relate to the way government chooses to regulate the Internet and the effects that has on free expression: network-level content-blocking, the enforced disclosure of cryptographic keys, the criminalisation of intellectual property infringement.
Others relate to individual privacy in the face of rapid technological advancement: the National Vehicle Tracking Database, the UK police DNA Database, the NHS Data Spine and, more generally, government data-sharing and data protection policies and the role of the Information Commissioner.
There are two specific future projects on the horizon. ORG has been approached to work with creative agency 01zero-one and the London Development Agency to create a set of training materials for creative industry executives hoping to build businesses around permissive and open handling of intellectual property assets; this project will continue into 2008. ORG has also been approached as a potential partner by a consortium of lawyers and academics wishing to roll out a UK-based version of the free speech monitor Chilling Effects. We will pursue this opportunity into 2008.
Over the last two years, ORG has built up a reputation for level-headed thinking and quality campaigning. We will work hard to maintain this reputation and to continue working on digital rights issues in a responsible manner that puts public benefit at the forefront of our campaigns.
ORG will work as quickly and effectively as possible. We’re determined for the organisation to be sustainable for as long as it is needed; this might mean decades. Our vision is one of a grassroots organisation with sufficient income from the community it serves to cover core costs and basic advocacy work. But, although ORG has punched above its weight on digital rights issues for the past year, we still lack the vital infrastructure that will ensure our future.
Our aim in 2008 is to increase our supporter figures to a level that will sustain our core costs. Although 1,000 people signed the original ORG pledge, so far we have received funds from around 800 individuals in our two-year history and around 565 people are currently supporting ORG on a regular basis. We understand that there may be those who pledged or supported who have since reconsidered their decision; but we believe there are many more who have lost touch with the organisation and who would renew their support if we got back in touch. Further, we think there are a lot more people out there who would like to support ORG, but who are, as yet, unaware of our work.
By the end of 2008, we want to have 1,500 paying supporters. This community will support two staff members, office facilities and other core overheads. We will achieve this growth through three streams of activity:
Developing our information infrastructure: We are currently developing the tools necessary to manage efficiently the information available to us about our supporters. As a grassroots technology organisation, we believe we should be taking advantage of new Web technologies to encourage coordinated activity on the edges of our supporter network. We want to manage our own supporter information efficiently, to good effect, and in an exemplary manner with regard to our supporters’ dignity and rights.
Developing our communications strategy: Being able to communicate effectively with supporters and stakeholders will secure ORG’s future. We need to invest now in eye-catching and relevant promotional materials for ORG and in training for ORG staff and volunteers to help them effectively communicate to the media.
Building our community: ORG has attracted criticism from current supporters for being too London-centric. We want to stimulate regional activity and provide resources to develop local groups. We believe this will not only increase the reach of our organisation, it will attract new supporters.
We have been awarded £20,000 over one year by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd to help us achieve these goals. A further £10,000 could be awarded at the end of the year in “matched funds”, should we achieve the same amount of new funding from our supporters – that means that any new contributions in coming months will be worth double.