Press releases

Press releases

May 03, 2012 | Jim Killock

Will London's election be open to fraud or error?

TODAY the Open Rights Group are warning that the London electronic count may be open to fraud or error, without any easy means to determine if results are correct.

As a result, they are sending a voluntary team of election Observers to watch the London election votes being collected and tomorrow, counted electronically.

At the last election, ORG declared that they were unable to view the election as safe. Jim Killock, Executive Director, said:

"We will be assessing how easily the machines could be tampered with, and whether it is possible to manually verify that the software has not been tampered with.

"We all know that computers can be hacked and can break down. In an election, this makes electronic counting vulnerable to fraud or error, as well as expensive to run.

"We will watch the count, and give our views to the Electoral Commission."

The changes ORG asked for after the last election included public examination of the software code and manual sample counts of the ballot papers, in order to verify the electronic count. Neither call has been met.

[Read more]

April 30, 2012 | Jim Killock

Pirate Bay block is short sighted and too broad

Reacting to the High Court's Order to block the Pirate Bay Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"Blocking the Pirate Bay is pointless and dangerous. It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for Internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism.

"Internet censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes."

[Read more]

April 27, 2012 | Jim Killock

Labour wrong to back Claire Perry "default blocking"

Reacting to the Daily Mail's reports that Labour would be backing Claire Perry's calls for default blocking of adult content, Jim Killock said:

"Default blocks are a form of censorship. If placed in networks, they could create a national infrastructure for censorship.

"Default blocks on mobile are disrupting churches, blogs, chat sites and political campaigns. They are automatic and catch the wrong things. Persuading the majority of the population to live with censorship would be wrong."

[Read more]

April 18, 2012 | Jim Killock

Claire Perry's "default blocking" would censor adults and fail children

Commenting on Claire Perry's committee findings, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"These recommendations, if enacted, would endanger children, create disruption for small business, and would not work technically.

"Default filtering is a form of censorship. Adults should not have to "opt out" of censorship. Governments should not be given powers to default censor legal material that adults see online.

"Our work on mobile networks is showing that default censorship is disrupting businesses, campaign groups and bloggers. Yet it is trivial for a child to avoid the network blocking that Claire Perry recommends - sites using https are invisible to network blocks. Furthermore, default blocks may be appropriate for some older children, but too weak for others.

"Parents need help, but 'default blocking' is an appalling proposal."

Claire Perry's inquiry report recommends:

  • Government initiate a formal review of an Opt-In filter to access adult material on the internet;
  • The Government should press for accelerated implementation plans for “Active Choice”; the content filtering system proposed for new internet customers by the largest ISPs;
  • Within 12 months, ISPs should roll out “single account” network filters that provide one-click filtering for all devices connected to the same internet account;
  • A single regulator should take lead responsibility on internet safety;
  • Public Wi-Fi networks should have a default adult-content bar;
  • Government and industry should draw up new guidelines to publicise existing safety settings on computers and internet-enabled devices;
  • ISPs should provide more support and signposting for internet safety education.


[Read more]

April 13, 2012 | Jim Killock

ORG welcomes David Martin MEP saying he is minded to reject ACTA

Speaking after David Martin MEP's seminar on ACTA and the UK, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"ACTA would be a blow for democracy, and must be rejected. The EU Parliament has a duty to stand up for civil liberties and seek better proposals on copyright and patent enforcement. ACTA endangers trade in cheap medicines, as well as our free speech online.

"The [Edinburgh] debate was surprising and well-informed. We hope David Martin MEP holds firm to his views."

[Read more]

April 01, 2012 | Jim Killock

Home Office email surveillance

Reacting to further reports of plans to legislate for new online surveillance capabilities, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"Of course the security services should be able to get a warrant to monitor genuine suspects.

"But blanket collection, without suspicion, or powers to compel companies to hand over data on the say-so of a police officer would be very wrong.

"The saga of complicity between senior police officers and Murdoch's journalists should tell us how vulnerable people's privacy can be. The government should stand by the commitments both parties made before the election to protect our privacy."

[Read more]

March 28, 2012 | Jim Killock

ORG supports Document Freedom Day

Today Open Rights Group is pleased to announce a partnership with Document Freedom Day 2012. Document Freedom Day (DFD) is an annual celebration of information accessibility and Open Standards, which are fundamental to citizen's data security and privacy.

"Open Standards are vital for personal freedom, competition and the freedom for everyone to innovate", says Jim Killock, ORG's Executive Director. "Without them, we become victims of monopoly, price fixing and cartels". "The Cabinet Office took some promising steps towards Open Standards, but the government has gone back on its word; real change is yet to come," says Sam Tuke, FSFE's UK coordinator. "We're happy to join forces with ORG to push for Open Standards in the UK".

Open Standards are a common language, publicly documented, that computer programs can speak. They are central to interoperability and freedom of choice in technology. Open Standards allow Free Software developers to create programs that can smoothly work together with other programs, so users can easily migrate between programs as they wish.

47 events in 17 countries are using demonstrations, street art, and workshops to explain why Open Standards and Free Software are crucial to a free and competitive information society. A network of 34 international partner organisations are carrying this message to new audiences, from Cairo to Argentina, Poland to Taiwan, and the European Parliament to Wales.

As a leading advocate of consumers' digital rights in the UK, Open Rights Group works with organisations such as Document Freedom Day which share its goals.

[Read more]

March 06, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Response to Digital Economy Act Judicial Review appeal decision

Responding to the decision this morning in the appeal of the Judicial Review of the Digital Economy Act, Peter Bradwell of Open Rights Group said:

"There is one thing the court cannot tell us: that this is a good law. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had no evidence when they wrote this Act, except for the numbers they were given by a couple of industry trade bodies. This is a policy made on hearsay and assumptions, not proper facts or analysis.

So significant problems remain. Publicly available wifi will be put at risk. Weak evidence could be used to penalise people accused of copyright infringement. And people will have to pay £20 for the privilege of defending themselves against these accusations.

The Government needs to correct these errors with a proper, evidence-based review of the law."

Contact: Peter Bradwell, / 07811 268398

The full text of the decision can be found here

[Read more]

February 22, 2012 | Jim Killock

Comment on referral of ACTA to European Court of Justice

Reacting to the European Commission's decision to refer the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court of Justice, Peter Bradwell of Open Rights Group said:

"The European Commission has a vested interest in seeing ACTA pass. They get to choose the question asked of the Court. They show every sign of making sure they get the answers they want to try to give ACTA a fig leaf of legitimacy.

And this is also clearly an attempt by the Commission to pause the ratification process in the hope that protests lose their heat.

If the Commission expects these protests about clumsy and dangerous internet policies to fade away, they are very much mistaken. Citizens across Europe have found their voice."

[Read more]

February 19, 2012 | Jim Killock

Email and Internet spy plans revived by Coalition

Responding to confirmation that Labour’s plans to intercept Internet traffic and store details of who we talk to online, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“Labour’s online surveillance plans have hardly changed but have been rebranded. They are just as intrusive and offensive.

“The coalition opposed Labour’s plans in opposition . Now, despite civil liberties commitments from Conservatives and Lib Dems, Home Office officials are planning to push through the same online surveillance capabilities.

“They are not telling Parliament, and hope they can slip commitments to build these new surveillance plans before the politicians really know what they are proposing.

“The plans are a huge waste of time and money, as well as being a huge intrusion on our civil liberties. Online government surveillance is the last thing we need right now.”


For a simple timeline and list of the main issues with the Communications Capabilities Development Plan,

Telegraph article: Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan

[Read more]