Press releases

Press releases


June 07, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Open Rights Group urges MPs to vote against the IPBill if bulk powers remain

Digital campaigners the Open Rights Group are calling on MPs to vote against the Investigatory Powers Bill if proposals for bulk powers remain in the controversial new surveillance law.

Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

“The Government is intent on pressing ahead with the IP Bill even though it will give the UK an extreme surveillance law unsuited to a democracy. The IP Bill’s powers are too broad and permit the surveillance of citizens whether or not they are suspected of wrongdoing.

"Surveillance should be targeted at those who are suspected of a crime.”

It is expected that a majority of MPs will vote in favour of the Bill tonight. It will then transfer to the House of Lords.

The Bill includes powers that will allow the Security Services to easily access any public or private database. The Government has admitted that the vast majority of such data will relate to people who are not suspected of any crimes. The intelligence services and the police will also be able to hack the electronic devices of third parties who are not direct suspects. Internet Service Providers will be forced to record their customers’ web browsing history and app use.

Earlier this week, ORG launched a film featuring a public toilet to highlight how dehumanising a lack of privacy can be.

For more information, email: press@openrightsgroup.org

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June 06, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

ORG Snoopers' Charter public toilet highlights importance of privacy

ORG has taken to the streets of London with a unique public toilet to give the public a taste of how dehumanising a lack of privacy can be.

With the click of a button, the walls of the toilet turned transparent, exposing those inside.

The film aims to highlight how the Bill will give the police and security services extensive surveillance powers that could invade everyone’s privacy. Watch the film and find out more at: https://www.snooperscharter.co.uk

The Bill, being debated in the House of Commons today, includes powers that will allow the Security Services to easily access any public or private database, with the vast majority of that data linked to people who are not suspected of any crimes – as admitted by the Government.

The intelligence services and the police will also be able to hack electronic devices and Internet Service Providers will be forced to record their customers’ web browsing history and app use. MPs are expected to vote on it on the Bill on June 7th before it is transferred to the House of Lords.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said:

“While many are aware of the Bill and what it means for personal freedom, we felt that there may be some members of the public that aren’t overly concerned with their online privacy.

"We hoped that by exposing people where they are most vulnerable we could encourage a debate about how much we value privacy and how comfortable we are with others accessing personal information without our consent. Hopefully the video can do this.”

While there have been some minor amendments to improve the Bill, if passed as it stands, it will give the UK one of the most extreme and intrusive surveillance laws in any Western democracy.

Killock added: “We at Open Rights Group still find it remarkable that this Bill is heading to the Commons. We would encourage anyone with an interest in personal freedom to read up on the issues and ask how comfortable they feel with every aspect of their life being accessible in a few clicks.

“Now is the time to raise your voice and make sure that we don’t sleepwalk into a surveillance state. The stakes really are that high.”

Watch the film here: https://www.snooperscharter.co.uk

For more information, please contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

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May 31, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

ORG calls on public to post pics to save Freedom of Panorama

Digital Rights campaigners, Open Rights Group are calling on members of the public to post pictures of public buildings and art from across the European Union as part of our campaign to protect ‘Freedom of Panorama’.

Freedom of Panorama is the right that allows us to take photos of public buildings like the Shard, the Angel of the North or the Scottish parliament without asking the artist or the architect for permission.

Although there is Freedom of Panorama in the UK, some European countries don’t have this right. The European Commission is discussing proposals that could remove this right. 

The Commission will decide whether there should be Freedom of Panorama across commercial and non-commercial use. Pictures shared on shared on commercial platforms such as Facebook, Flickr and Instagram could fall under ‘commercial use. This means that holiday snaps could be blocked, removed or the owner threatened with legal action.  

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:

"Holiday snaps of famous twentieth century buildings or public sculptures, when published online, will frequently infringe infringe copyright in different member states. This is extremely silly as well as creating legal hazards for online publishers. We need to make sure that the Commission protects the right to Freedom of Panorama and tries to restore some sanity."

ORG is calling for a simplification of the rules to allow the European Commission to allow Freedom of Panorama across the EU for both commercial and non-commercial use.

Members of the public can post their pictures with the hashtag #SaveFoP or add this tag to existing pictures of European public buildings and works of art on Instagram and Flickr. ORG will use these to highlight to the European Commission the dangers of removing Freedom of Panorama. Submissions to the Commission on this issue can be made here: http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu

For more information go to: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/save-freedom-of-panorama/faqs

You can view tagged pictures on Flickr here.   

Contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

 

 

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May 23, 2016 | Jim Killock

Waterstones customers lose out from DRM

ORG responds to Waterstone’s decision to close their ebooks store.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“This shows how vulnerable customers are when their digital content is locked up by so-called ‘Digital Rights Management’. Some people will lose their ebooks. Nobody can choose to move their content from one device to another without the book stores’ permission.

“Without DRM, customers would have choice and be protected, as they are with music downloads today.

“DRM is locking up the market for Amazon, Apple and Kobo. This is bad news for authors and their readers.”

More info: 

https://www.waterstones.com/help/ebooks-&-mp3-audio-downloads/12

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/36360531 

http://www.teleread.com/kobo-takes-uk-waterstones-ebook-store/

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April 25, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Theresa May has to answer to the ECtHR

Open Rights Group has responded to Theresa May’s call to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights so that the UK will no longer be subject to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtCR).

 Executive Director Jim Killock said:

“Theresa May will be defending mass surveillance in the ECtHR over the next weeks, as they examine what we have learnt about huge programmes gathering everyone’s data. This is the same court that Theresa May believes she should not have to answer to.

“The government built GCHQ’s programmes without discussion in parliament. The ECtHR has provided a way for impartial judges to examine what our government has done, even when they preferred to bypass democratic procedure.”

Open Rights Group, along with Big Brother Watch, English PEN and internet campaigner Constanze Kurz are asking the European Court of Human Rights to rule on whether UK surveillance and oversight comply with the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention. After being put on hold for two years, the case is now proceeding and a Judgment is expected later this year.

More information

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April 22, 2016 | Jim Killock

Ten year copyright jail terms

Online criminal copyright infringement jail sentences to be extended to a maximum ten years

Reacting to Baroness Neville Rolfe’s announcement that the government would proceed with ten year sentences for online copyright infringement, Jim Killock said:

"We note that the minister has committed to narrowing the scope of the offence. We need to see that it relates to genuinely commercial infringements. In particular the test of prejudicially affecting the copyright holder needs to go, and a test for actual knowledge needs to be present.

"We would welcome further discussions with her and the IPO to understand how the government seeks to ensure these new sentences are not abused to threaten people whose civil copyright misdemeanours are not deserving of custodial sentences."

Over 1000 respondents from ORG’s community submitted evidence to the consultation.

 

 

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April 12, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

CJEU hearing could find IPBill incompatible with EU law

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will today hold an emergency hearing that could have implications for the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

The CJEU has been asked to explain its April 2014 Judgment in a case brought by Digital Rights Ireland, which ruled blanket data retention severely interfered with rights to respect for private life and the protection of personal data. The Court also declared the Data Retention Directive invalid.

Open Rights Group’s Legal Director, Myles Jackman said:

“The Court found that you shouldn’t collect people’s data unless there is a specific reason and that there should be strict controls for allowing access to this data. With both DRIPA and the IPBill, the British government has ignored this call to respect our human rights.

We look forward to the CJEU’s clarification of their ruling and hope that it rejects once and for all the blanket collection of our personal data.”

ORG intervened in the case with Privacy International. Their Legal Officer Camilla Graham Wood said:

"The UK, in enacting legislation that is almost identical to the European Data Retention Directive which the CJEU ruled unlawful, is mandating data retention on a widespread, indiscriminate and untargeted basis. Such a broad and wholesale retention of communications data is in violation of European law.”

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA)

Three months after the Digital Rights Ireland Judgment, the British government fast-tracked the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) through Parliament. This enabled the continued retention of personal communications data by Communications Service Providers in the UK.

DRIPA was challenged by the MPs David Davis and Tom Watson in a judicial review brought by Liberty with ORG and Privacy International acting as intervenors. The High Court ruled that DRIPA was inconsistent with EU law.

The ruling referred to two criteria laid down by the CJEU in the Digital Rights Ireland case:

1.   DRIPA did not provide clear and precise rules about access to and use of the retained communications data.
2.  Under DRIPA it is not a mandatory requirement for a court or an independent administrative body to authorise access to the retained data.

When the Government appealed the High Court’s decision, the Court of Appeal asked the CJEU court to explain how the DRI ruling should be applied in the UK.

Investigatory Powers Bill
The IPB would extend the data that is retained by Communication Service Providers to include Internet Connection Records, which have been broadly described as records of users’ browsing history. The CJEU previously said that data should not be retained without a specific reason.

The IPB would also continue to allow the police and government departments to authorise internally access to this data. This would fail to meet the criteria that independent courts or bodies should authorise access to data.

For more information, contact press@openrightsgroup.org

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March 15, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

ORG urges MPs to oppose the Investigatory Powers Bill

Open Rights Group is urging MPs to oppose the Investigatory Powers Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

"MPs of any political party who value democracy must resist the Government's attempts to rush the Investigatory Powers Bill through Parliament.

"The UK's senior lawyers, its journalists and the tech industry have lambasted the Bill. Parliament's own committees have called for significant changes to its powers. But the Government is intent on forcing it into law. MPs must act before it's too late.”

ORG issued a briefing to MPs yesterday: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/ourwork/reports/investigatory-powers-bill-briefing

For more information or to arrange interviews, email: press@openrightsgroup.org

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March 14, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Renowned lawyer Myles Jackman appointed Legal Director for Open Rights Group

Myles Jackman who once described online pornography as “the canary in the coalmine of free speech” and is best known for his cutting edge practice in obscenity law and sexual freedom of expression, has been appointed as the Legal Director for Open Rights Group.

Myles was awarded the Law Society’s Junior Lawyer of the Year award in 2012 having represented Michael Peacock and Simon Walsh in their landmark obscenity prosecutions, the #ObscenityTrial and the #PornTrial. He has campaigned for reform in this area, accusing the legal system of being “twenty years behind social values and technological change” in the area of sexual freedom and privacy.

About his appointment, Myles said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as ORG’s Legal Director, since their cutting edge campaigning work for digital freedom and against surveillance chimes perfectly with my personal privacy and freedom of expression agenda.

“This is particularly timely given the passage of the current Investigatory Powers Bill with its authorisation for State-sponsored mass hacking and intrusion into individual privacy and personal freedom.”

Executive Director Jim Killock said: “I am excited to announce this legal rock star signing. I hope that Myles’ recognition outside the legal sphere will attract new supporters to ORG’s campaign for digital rights and privacy.”

Meet the Lawyer

ORG are hosting a Meet the Lawyer event on the evening of the 5th April 2016 where Myles will discuss ORG’s legal strategy for the Investigatory Powers Bill. This event will be of particular interest to legal professionals who would like to provide their know how to an active privacy campaign. To request an invitation to attend this event, please contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

Interviews

For interviews, please contact Myles on: myles@openrightsgroup.org

Notes for Editors

ORG’s legal work includes the Privacy not Prism challenge at the European Court of Human Rights brought with Big Brother Watch, English PEN and the internet campaigner Constanze Kurz. They are challenging GCHQ's surveillance practices and the current system of oversight on the grounds that they breach the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention.

ORG also submitted an intervention in the case against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) brought by Liberty, represented by David Davis MP and Tom Watson MP. The Government has appealed the High Court’s ruling that parts of DRIPA are unlawful. The case has now been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

For more information about Myles visit: www.mylesjackman.com

Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-uks-sexist-new-pornography-restrictions-arent-just-an-act-of-state-censorship-but-could-be-the-9903830.html

Guardian Long Read: http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/sep/09/one-lawyers-crusade-defend-extreme-pornography

 

 

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March 09, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy condemns Investigatory Powers Bill

The Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy has heavily criticised the Investigatory Powers Bill in his first report to the Human Rights Council.  

The report calls for "disproportionate, privacy-intrusive measures such as bulk surveillance and bulk hacking as contemplated in the Investigatory Powers Bill [to] be outlawed rather than legitimised."
 
Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group responded to the report's findings:

“The Special Rapporteur's report is yet another damning criticism of the Investigatory Powers Bill. Not only does it call for the disproportionate powers in the Bill to be 'outlawed rather than legitimised', it points out that the Bill does not comply with recent human rights rulings, which means it could be open to legal challenges.

“The report also voices another serious concern – that the impact of this extreme legislation will be felt around the world, and copied by other countries.

“The Government cannot continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that the IPB is a deeply flawed piece of legislation.”
 
For further information, email press@openrightsgroup.org

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