Press releases

Press releases

Civil Rights Groups Call On European Parliament To Vote For Strong Data Protection Rules

EDRI joint press release regarding the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties will decide on the future of privacy and data protection in Europe.

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ORG warns on Data Protection

Reacting to the leaked documents detailing the proposed Data Protection Regulation, ORG Executive Director Jim Killock warned that 'pseudonymous' categories of data could create privacy problems for EU citizens.

"Deciding that it is ok to process data if it is 'pseudonymous' is extremely dangerous. It could place a great deal of data out of the control of individuals.

"Web companies with big advertising revenues seem to want this so that they are relieved of many of their legal obligations. But that could leave users unable to control how a lot of their data is used.

"The NSA was recently shown to be using 'pseudonymous' cookies to track browsing the web, linking this data back to your identity, so the dangers are very real and proven."


Full documents

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Tom Watson MP: "The surveillance state is running amok and Parliament has absolutely failed."

Labour MP Tom Watson spoke out at the Labour Conference this evening to criticise Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the rest of Parliament for turning a blind eye to "the explosive growth in the power of the surveillance state"

Speaking in the light of a summer of revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden about the Internet surveillance programmes of British and American intelligence, he said:

"We're living in the most closed system of liberal democracy in the Western world. We have the most unaccountable intelligence services."

"Parliamentary scrutiny hasn't just failed. It doesn't exist."

"I can't think what any party leader has said about this. That's an absolute disgrace. This is a callous denial of our freedom."

"I have no faith in the Intelligence and Security Committee [which is charged with overseeing the UK intelligence agencies]. I hope Parliamentarians say we're not going to take it this anymore."

"We have to say we're not going to put up with this and build a cross-party coalition to make the intelligence services accountable for once and for all and provide oversight of a surveillance state running amok."

He was speaking at a fringe event hosted by campaign groups Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch.

Also speaking was Paul Johnson, the Deputy Editor of The Guardian who has orchestrated their coverage of the Edward Snowden revelations.

He talked about "the most surreal 36 hours I've ever had as a journalist" where, on the orders of GCHQ, "we bought masks and destroy the material [that they had from Edward Snowden]."

"We told them two weeks earlier it was already in New York. The whole thing was surreal. It was an entirely bizarre moment."

"It illustrates at heart that the British Government doesn't believe this story should have been written."

Javier Ruiz - Campaigns Director of Open Rights Group called for the start of a movement against mass surveillance:

"This isn't just the responsibility of political parties. We really need to look at a political solution that involves citizens, government and private companies."

Nick Pickles - Director of Big Brother Watch, told the audience, "How we govern data isn't fit for the Internet age. Parliament need to drag the intelligence agencies into the open. Secrecy cannot be justified to simply prevent embarrassment. We've been telling the world to do one thing while doing a completely different thing ourselves."

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PRISM US Surveillance - Serious Questions for the UK Government

Digital rights campaigners Open Rights Group are extremely concerned by these unprecedented revelations of US spying on foreign citizens.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

"The UK Government must tell us what they knew about PRISM. An investigation in Parliament is badly needed to find out whether the UK Government or intelligence agencies were in any way involved with any related invasion of UK citizens' privacy."

"US web companies operating in Britain must explain their role in this snooping on their clients' communications and cloud services." There should be answers to:

  1. What did the UK Government know about the PRISM programme?
  2. Given the history of collaboration between the US and the UK, can they give us assurances that UK secret services have not been involved in the PRISM programme?
  3. Will the UK Government be seeking clarification from the US Government about whether the data of UK citizens is being monitored by the NSA?
  4. Has the UK received any intelligence based on queries made through the alleged PRISM programme?
  5. Would the Government advise that UK citizens, businesses and MPs stop using services provided by American web companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft?
  6. Can the UK Government give assurance that the commericial confidentiality of UK businesses has not been breached through the PRISM programme?

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Defending Internet Freedom at ORGCon2013

ORGCon2013 has expert speakers responding to the way the latest tragic news stories are being used for point scoring and clamping down on online freedoms, focusing on online censorship, the Snoopers' Charter and the Digital Arms Trade, plus many more on relevant current issues.

ORGCon 2013
Saturday June 8th, 10.00am – 5.30pm,
Institute of Engineering and Technology, Savoy Place, London

From the attacks in Woolwich, to the murder of April Jones, politicians are quick to use the latest tragic news stories to grab attention or score political points. Often this leads to unthinking calls to restrict our freedoms online, whether it is through blocking websites or more surveillance. Open Rights Group (ORG) is on the front line responding to these proposals.

Every year ORG runs the UK's only digital freedoms conference, ORGCon, which draws together policy makers, activists and academics to tackle the biggest questions in technology policy. This year we'll be debating everything from the Snoopers' Charter and the digital arms trade to online censorship.

Top experts on civil liberties, human rights and technology policy experts will be available for interview on these issues, including founders of the digital rights movement such as John Perry Barlow and Tim Wu.

We’ll be asking some of the difficult questions about child protection online at ORGCon2013:Professor Andy Phippen, professor of Social Responsibility in IT, will be presenting a lecture about the best ways to help children as they grow up with the Internet. Child Rights International Network (CRIN) will also be giving a talk, speaking on the child's right to information, a voice that is often forgotten in the midst of these filtering debates.

The call for a revival of the Snoopers' Charter, following the Woolwich attack, will be the first session of the day. Julian Huppert MP, a member of the Joint Committee scrutinising the Bill, and authors from ORG's Digital Surveillance report will look at why the Snoopers' Charter gets it wrong and what the alternatives are: targeted and accountable investigatory powers for UK police.

The parallel session on the "Digital Arms Trade" features Reporters without Borders, Bits of Freedom and Privacy International talking about the danger of legislation like the Snoopers' Charter to world freedom. They will be informing the audience how the current trade in surveillance technologies between nations is a real threat to the international free press and to the safety of activists world-wide, and their work fighting it.

Amongst the many other debates, we'll also be discussing the new copyright and orphan works law with the Intellectual Property Office; the EU's proposed Data Protection Regulation with the Information Commissioner's Office; and free speech online with Facebook and renowned legal expert David Allen Green.

Further event details at: 

Jim Killock, Executive Director
Speakers are available for interview at ORGCon.
Press passes available: 

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Mobile phone data for sale

Committee Room 6, House of Commons , London SW1A 0AA Wednesday, June 5, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Recent press reports suggested that Ipsos Mori was marketing mobile network usage data to a range of companies, local authorities and public bodies.

The reports suggested that the Metropolitan Police were offered access to mobile users' individual personal information - including web history, location and spending patterns. The claims were subsequently rejected by Ipsos MORI and mobile operator EE.

Some mobile phone providers contacted by ORG admit allowing third parties access to their customers data, but insist they comply with Data Protection laws and only deal in anonymised user data.

Join us for a panel discussion, to be held in Parliament next Wednesday, June 8th at 2pm, that will clarify the details of this particular case, but also consider the issues raised by the general trend of products and analytics based on 'anonymised' customers data. We'll be asking:

- What happens to our personal data when companies create these new services?
- Can the technological measures used by companies truly protect our personal information?
- Is the current regulatory framework able to deal with these new uses of mobile data? Is there a need for a new Code of Practice?
- How can customers have a say in what happens to their data? Is "tick-and-forget" "consent enough? Do we need to explore more dynamic engagement models?

The meeting will be hosted by Julian Huppert, MP and the panel will include:

- Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos Mori
- Jason Rees, Director of New Business at Everything Everywhere (EE)
- Iain Bourne, Group Manager of Policy Delivery at the Information Commissioner's Office
- Joss Wright, Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute.

This event is organised by the Open Rights Group.

Please email to RSVP, or use our Meetup page

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Open letter to ISPs

Three privacy groups have written to ISPs to demand that they stand up for their customers and warn them about the Snoopers' Charter.

In the letter, the Open Rights Group, Privacy International and the Open Rights Group as that ISPs stop holding closed meetings with the government, which may end up with them becoming an arm of government law enforcement. The letter states:

"That your businesses appear willing to be co-opted as an arm of the state to monitor every single one of your customers is a dangerous step, exacerbated by your silence"

The companies are asked to withdraw from the closed consultation process:

"We urge you to withdraw your participation in a process that in our view is deeply flawed, pursuing a pre-determined solution that puts competition, security and privacy at risk in an unprecedented way."

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Open Rights Group announces biggest ever event

Professor Tim Wu, author of "The Master Switch" and EFF founder John Perry Barlow will be the headline speakers at Open Rights Group's annual conference this year, set to be their biggest ever event.

The conference, ORGCon 2013, is on Saturday 8 June and ORG is taking over the IET in central London for the day-long event.

Announcing details of the event this week, Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said:

"With digital issues constantly rising up the political agenda more and more people are coming to us, concerned about their rights. This event will enable you to find out what we are doing to campaign for your rights, and to find out how you can get involved and defend your rights to free speech, privacy and creativity online. And we're very pleased to have Professor Tim Wu and John Barlow coming over from America to speak this year."

Last year's event sold out, and tickets for ORGCon 2013 are already selling fast. In addition to the main speakers, the conference will include sessions and workshops on net filtering, open data, the Communications Data Bill and copyright.

Tickets are available at and new supporters of ORG can get a free ticket. The event is sponsored by Andrews and Arnold ( who champion unfiltered internet services and strongly support ORG's stance on privacy .



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ORG victory on parental controls

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group welcomed the Department for Education response to their consultation on parental controls.
The response says that default filters and pre-filled forms encouraging filtering will not be pursued. Instead, parents will be asked to install filters and be given help to choose age appropriate settings.
"The government listened to the thousands of people who sent in responses. The public and parents are overwhelmingly against default filters and default choices. People do believe parents need help, though. 
"Default filtering would disrupt harmless websites and fail parents, so we are extremely glad the government has rejected it."

Jim Killock 
Executive Director
Open Rights Group
+44 7894 498 127
Skype: jimkillock

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GoldenEye appeal on Monday: ORG reaches £5k funding goal

Open Rights Group has reached the funding goal of £5,000 to fund the legal case defending the decision to keep private the personal details of O2 and Be Broadband customers asssociated with over 6000 IP addresses.

The case will be heard in the Court of Appeal on Monday 10 December at 10am in Court 71

Jim Killock said:

"We're delighted that we will be able to defend individual privacy in this case. We have been astounded by the generosity of so many individuals who have helped us raise the funds we need to fight the case."

More info

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