Press releases

Press releases

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]

October 19, 2011 | Jim Killock

The online market for films is dysfunctional

Open Rights Group today published research on the availability of film online, finding a dysfunctional marketplace that leaves consumers with the digital equivalent of empty shelves. The findings showed:

  • Excluding iTunes, only 27% of the BAFTA Best Film award winning films from 1960 to 2011 are available to rent or buy online, with only 29% of the50 best British films.
  • Only 6% of the best 50 best British films are on Film4 OD or Virgin Media. 14% are available through a LoveFilm subscription and 4% through payper view on LoveFilm.
  • Including iTunes, still only 43% of the top 50 British films can be bought or rented online, with the figure at 58% for the BAFTA Best Filmaward winners.

As well as problems with availability, prices online do not compare favourably with DVDs:

  • For the best selling DVDs from August 2011, the average price was £6.80. For iTunes purchases, of the films available through its service, the average price was £8.88. For blinkbox purchases theprice stood at £9.49.
  • DVD prices at for the BAFTA winning films average at£5.84, whilst on iTunes the average price stands at £6.72

In the US, DVD sales fell 20% in the first quarter of 2011. Presuming a decline in physical media sales, shifts towards digital consumption and device 'convergence', the availability of a broad digital catalogue of works at least comparable to that available on physical media will be vital in sustaining a bouyant film industry.

If the goal for policy makers is cultural markets that thrive in the digital age, consumers' demand must be satisfied online. Clearly this is not yet happening. This must take precedence over damaging new copyright enforcement measures. The proportionality and necessity of enforcement can only be considered in a situation in which there is a compelling offering of legal services and a healthy market environment.

Peter Bradwell, campaigner at Open Rights Group, said:

"There are obvious deficiencies in the licensing for cultural goods online. This is crippling the market just as consumers are increasingly showing a desire to watch film in new ways. Consumers are moving online faster than the industry whose films they want to watch. Understanding why these market sare so unhealthy must be a key focus for policy makers."

Notes on the results

The four film lists used:

1. The top 50 films from Time Out London magazine's 100 Best BritishFilms2. BAFTA Best Film award winners (1960-2011)3.'s 20 best-selling DVDs as of 1 July 20114.'s 40 best-selling DVDs for August 2011

For each film, we searched five content providers (iTunes, Lovefilm,blinkbox, Film4 OD, and Virgin Media) and one film listing service (Findanyfilm). Box-sets and TV shows were excluded from the comparison ofthe lists. For the recent best sellers lists, we included HD results.

Results were correct as on 19th September 2011. The results for any givensearch frequently change, with content providers' catalogues changing offers. Results here should therefore be taken as *indicative* of current availability. You can download the spreadsheets with more detailed comparisons in here (.xls).

[Read more]

October 11, 2011 | Jim Killock

Censorware or child protection?

Tuesday 11 October

Reacting to news of new agreements between ISPs to block adult content, or forcing adults to opt into to it, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital rights, said:

"There is a world of difference between offering sensible child safety, and trying to persuade adults to live with layers of censorship.

"The devil is therefore in the detail, and how "options" are presented. Will adults be asked if they need parental controls, or if they want to switch adult content on? We will oppose anything designed to induce adults to live with "censorware" which would inevitably deny them access to commentary, health and medical advice."

[Read more]