Supporter Newsletter


June 03, 2019 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter - June 2019

It’s been a year since the landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) wrestled control over personal data back from Big Tech. We’re celebrating GDPR’s first birthday with a look at Open Rights Group’s (ORG) growing work to protect digital privacy.

Holding AdTech accountable
In late 2018 ORG filed a joint complaint to European data protection authorities against Google and IAB Europe for GDPR violations in their real-time ad bidding systems which often share personal data like location and browsing habits with hundreds of companies. Since then, AdTech complaints have multiplied across Europe with more recently filed in four countries as well as the Irish data protection authority opening an investigation into Google.

Taking the Data Protection Act 2018 to court
Last year Open Rights Group teamed up with campaigners for EU citizens’ rights the3million to challenge the “immigration exemption” within the Data Protection Act 2018 on the grounds that it undermines the privacy rights of literally millions of legal UK residents. In 2019 the case was granted judicial review and our legal team is currently gathering evidence in preparation for the hearing.

Empowering users with Data Rights Finder
GDPR gives us powerful new rights over our personal data, but it’s not always easy to know how to use those rights. To help ORG teamed up with ProjectsbyIF to create the webtool Data Rights Finder which cuts through the confusing language of company privacy policies to tell you exactly what data rights you have and how to flex them.

Measuring GDPR’s impact
The public conversation about GDPR is often focused on how companies achieve compliance with far less attention on its benefits to individuals. To address this disparity ORG published a report investigating UK residents’ awareness of GDPR and how well they know their new data rights. ORG also compiled and edited Volume 3 of GDPR Today which surveys GDPR’s implementation across the European Union.

Challenging vulnerabilities in age verification tech
ORG has worked steadily to raise the alarm about privacy shortfalls in age verification tools on adult websites mandated by the Digital Economy Act 2017. ORG is preparing a public resource to increase awareness about the privacy risks of age verification tech in preparation for when enforcement begins on 15 July 2019.

GDPR was a huge victory for digital privacy and has allowed ORG to advance its work protecting the UK’s personal data. Thank you for supporting our work.

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May 02, 2019 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter - May 2019

As technology’s effect on daily life grows, Open Rights Group (ORG) is stepping up the fight to protect your rights online.

Click here to subscribe to digital rights email updates like this.

Online harms white paper published
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office unveiled long anticipated plans to address pressing “online harms” from cyber bullying to terrorist content. ORG is working with a diverse coalition of organisations to ensure a sensible pursuit of a safer Internet that does not damage free expression. We’ll be in touch soon about how you can help.

Exciting ORGCon July 2019 lineup updates
Former Google scientist and anti-censorship icon Jack Poulson joins Edward Snowden on our London event lineup as well as UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye and director of Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo. We’ve also confirmed an array of innovative tech-related art installations and live podcast recordings by Machine Learning Ethics. Early bird tickets are almost gone. If you haven't already, get yours here.

Age verification enforcement date set
Starting 15 July mandatory age verification technology for adult websites will be enforced, with non-compliant sites being blocked. ORG doesn’t object to shielding minors from pornography, but we strongly oppose the technology’s weak privacy protections because they remain totally optional. Keep an eye out for ORG’s upcoming new resource to help increase public awareness of the privacy risks of age verification technology.

ORG is hiring!
Do you or someone you know have a knack for communications and a passion for digital rights? We looking for a new communications officer to join our London office. The deadline for applications is Monday 6 May. Find everything you need to know to apply here.

Upcoming ORG events
Find an ORG event near you on our events or local groups pages.

ORG Cambridge
Monthly meetup
Tuesday May 7 2019
7:00 PM to 8:30pm
The Castle Inn
38 Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AJ
https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Cambridge/events/260353140/?rv=me2

ORG Oxford
Will social media regulation curtail free expression online?
Wednesday 8 May 2019
6:30pm-8:00pm
Makespace Oxford
1 Artistotle Ln, Oxford
https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Oxford/events/260370121/

ORG Norwich
Monthly meetup
Monday, May 13, 2019
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Neontribe
21 Colegate, Norwich
https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Norwich/events/260761107/

Corporate supporters
We’d like to send a big thank you to Privacy Australia, our newest corporate supporter. We’d also like to thank Top10VPN, IVPN and Pyramid Wifi for renewing their support.

Thank you for helping to protect digital rights.

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April 03, 2019 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter: April 2019

Your digital rights update on all things ORG.

Open Rights Group has announced ORGCon is back on 13 July 2019 with Edward Snowden as our keynote speaker! From the use of data in the democratic process to the impact of algorithms on free expression, we’ll be covering all things digital at our London conference. Early bird tickets are on sale now. 

Copyright showdown in Strasbourg

In a blow to a free and open Internet, the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted to pass the Copyright Directive including the notorious Article 13 (now Article 17), which could kick automated censorship into high gear. Despite the setback, the fight isn’t over. Legal challenges are all but certain and there will be opportunities to oppose upload filters when the Directive is incorporated into UK legislation.

Free speech in the crossfire

Open Rights Group sent an open letter with Index on Censorship and Global Partners Digital to Department of Digital Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) Secretary of State Jeremy Wright MP laying out steps to ensure proposals to combat online harms don’t trample free speech. The Government is expected to announce new plans to regulate social media platforms (and social media users) as soon as next week.

Defending the right to parody

The Government is conducting a review of copyright reforms introduced into UK law in 2014, including the right to parody. ORG is collecting evidence to defend this important right and we need your help. Have you or your organisation used parody since 2014? If so please help by telling us your experience by Friday 5 April.

ORG published GDPR Today

10 months after coming into effect, has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) improved digital privacy across Europe? Check out the latest edition of GDPR Today, which was published by Open Rights Group, to find out.

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March 06, 2019 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter: March 2019

From a shocking new development in our complaint against Google’s advertising practice to a breakthrough in our legal challenge against mass surveillance, February was a month to remember.

ORG in the Grand Chamber

When the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on a challenge to mass surveillance brought by ORG and others last autumn, the judgment didn’t fully acknowledge the unlawful nature of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. In February the case was referred to the ECtHR’s Grand Chamber where a definitive judgment is expected on the compatibility of mass surveillance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Data and Democracy
Open Rights Group is excited to announce its new data and democracy project! To confront digital threats to the democratic process we will tackle new proposals for electronic voting across the UK and challenge the misuse of voter data by political parties. For a preview of what’s to come, read our critique of the government’s new report on disinformation and fake news.

Age verification regulator no show
As the UK’s anointed porn regulator, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of age verification technology on adult websites as required by the Digital Economy Act 2017. Set to come online in April, ORG held a roundtable with age verification providers to discuss concerns over the technology’s glaring lack of privacy protections. Even though we made a point of holding the meeting close to their offices, the BBFC still didn’t show.

AdTech complaints heat up
Before you see an ad online, chances are your personal information has been shared with hundreds of advertisers bidding for your views. ORG filed a joint complaint with other privacy advocates against Google and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) claiming this bidding system violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The plot thickened in February when new evidence was submitted allegedly showing that IAB was aware their bidding system was “incompatible with consent under GDPR.”

ORG raises concerns about legality of Police Scotland’s digital search and seizure
Off the back of reporting in The Times on Police Scotland’s intention to get further advice on the legality of their forensic kiosks, Open Rights Group (ORG) wrote to the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing to raise their concerns. ORG continued to force the point home that a full review of the legal basis for Police search and seizure of digital devices in Scotland should be carried out. In response, the Sub-Committee has written to members of the Cyber Reference Group (which ORG is a member of), including the Faculty of Advocates, Privacy International and the Information Commissioner’s Office to get their opinion on the proposed legal basis.

Unsettling the Home Office
Open Rights Group and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) called on the Home Office to improve the process of automated data checks within the EU Settlement Scheme, which all EU nationals must use to apply for settled status post-Brexit. The report asserts the Home Office’s duty to increase transparency and ensure meaningful oversight of the opaque process.

Article 13 powerplay
The European Conference of Presidents will vote this Thursday in Brussels on a request to fasttrack the final MEP vote on the EU Copyright Directive to 12 March. If successful, international protests against upload filters planned for 23 March will become obsolete. Stay tuned for ORG’s call to action.

ORG AROUND THE UK
Open Rights Group has local chapters across the UK. Find one near you.

ORG Edinburgh
ORG’s executive director Jim Killock reviews the current state of digital censorship in the UK.
Wednesday 13 March
6:45-8:45pm
The Melting Pot
5 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 PR
https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Edinburgh/events/259118798/

ORG Birmingham
ORG’s executive director Jim Killock reviews the current state of digital censorship in the UK.
Monday 18 March
6:30-8:30pm
Birmingham Open Media (BOM)
1 Dudley Street, Birmingham B5 4EG
https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Birmingham/events/259278814/

ORG Cambridge
Monthly meetup to discuss digital rights and ORG's campaigns.
Tuesday 5 March
7:00pm-8:30pm
The Castle Inn
38 Castle Street
Cambridge CB3 OAJ
https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Cambridge/events/fdpwknyzfbhb/

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February 05, 2019 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter - February 2019

Fancy a break from Brexit? Here are some important updates about Open Rights Group’s recent work.

IMMIGRATION EXEMPTION CHALLENGE BREAKTHROUGH

ORG’s legal challenge with the3million against the Data Protection Act’s “immigration exemption” passed a critical hurdle in January when a court granted permission for judicial review. [1] The exemption contradicts the spirit of the Act by undermining the data rights of every UK resident connected to someone going through the immigration process. We look forward to our day in court and will keep you updated as the case progresses. Thanks again to all who donated to make this challenge possible.

POLICE SCOTLAND HALT CYBER KIOSK ROLL-OUT

On Thursday Police Scotland revealed they will not be rolling out dozens of cyber kiosks which can read seized electronic devices [2] until they can provide legal certainty. Chief Constable Iain Livingstone recognised that “We didn’t absolutely establish and articulate the clear legal authority and rights-based authority for the use of the equipments.” [3] The move echoed evidence ORG submitted to the Justice-Sub Committee [4] last year calling for a halt to rollout, citing the lack of clear legal authority as a concern. It’s now imperative that any report Police Scotland receives regarding the legality of the use of the kiosks is made public.

CLOGGED UPLOAD FILTERS

The movement to delete Article 13 and its upload filters from the EU Copyright Directive continues. Last week Open Rights Group signed an open letter to EU negotiations [5] along with 87 organisations calling for the removal of Article 13. We’re also coordinating an international lobbying effort to knock some sense into MEPs across Europe. Even if the final vote happens after we’ve left the EU, you can be sure the Directive will have a major influence on the UK.

QUICKFIRE NEWS

SUBMIT YOUR IDEAS for ORGCon 2019

ORGCon 2019 is happening on Saturday 13 July in central London! A hotbed of discussion, debate, activism and action, the day will have four themes: digital privacy, censorship & the role of algorithms, mass surveillance, and data & democracy. Expect a full announcement and ticket sales soon. Meanwhile we want to hear from you. Is there a unique presentation, panel discussion or workshop you think would fit well? If so, let us know your session idea [6] before this Friday 8 February at 8am.

INTERNATIONAL DATA PROTECTION DAY

To celebrate the 13th annual International Data Protection Day, Open Rights Group published a new report about the public’s understanding of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). [7] The report found that although GDPR instils powerful rights to protect your personal data from Internet companies like Facebook, most people don’t know how to take advantage.

WELCOME TO OPEN RIGHTS GROUPS’ NEW LEGAL AND POLICY OFFICER

We’d like to welcome our new legal and policy officer Amy Shepherd to the staff!  Her work focuses on digital rights issues in the context of Brexit and online free expression.

CORPORATE SUPPORTERS

Thank you to our corporate sponsors Automattic and Elegant Chaos for renewing their generous support!

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January 07, 2019 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter - January 2019

We’re rolling into the new year with some serious momentum! Last year’s triumphs and generous supporter donations have us ready for a packed 2019.

BREXIT & DIGITAL RIGHTS

You wouldn’t know it from the headlines, but Brexit’s impact on our digital rights will be a game changer. In the lead up to Brexit Day 29 March, Open Rights Group (ORG) is on a mission to keep you informed about the threats and opportunities Brexit poses for our lives online. We’ll also be informing lawmakers to know exactly how leaving the EU will affect UK digital rights so they’re prepared for post-Brexit negotiations.

PREVENTING A NEW ERA OF CENSORSHIP

Just as surveillance practices meant to keep us safer proved detrimental to digital privacy, new plans to eliminate “harmful content” risk escalating digital censorship. Part 1 of our new report series examines problems with current UK censorship practices like opaque takedowns and a lack of independent means of redress. Part 2 is coming soon and will address problems with the government’s emerging Internet Safety Strategy. 

The long saga of the EU Copyright Directive’s controversial Article 13 - which would introduce upload filters on major Internet platforms - is approaching a final EU Parliament vote as soon as February. That vote will be our last chance to prevent a “new normal” where most online speech is vetted by corporate algorithms. In recent months the catastrophic Directive has been opposed by some of the very rights holders it will supposedly benefit. Keep an eye out for our call to action in the coming weeks.

ENHANCING DEMOCRATIC INTEGRITY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Following our opposition to electronic voting trials in Scotland last year, in 2019 we’ll expand our research to help the Scottish and Welsh governments to understand e-voting’s effects on public trust in elections. We’ve also planning to work with partners, experts and policymakers across the UK to establish principles and rules for the use of personal data in political campaigning. 

ORG is poised to make a big impact in 2019 thanks to donations from our members and supporters. If you haven’t yet, please donate today. Your donation will be 100% matched by our generous corporate supporters.

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December 19, 2018 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter - What we won in 2018

Thanks to members and supporters like you, Open Rights Group (ORG) scored big wins in 2018 across our core issues of digital privacy, government surveillance and free expression online.

 

Condemning MASS SURVEILLANCE

2018 saw two important court victories for ORG against the UK’s mass surveillance programme. Three years (and several courts) after ORG intervened in a challenge to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), the UK Court of Appeals agreed it was illegal. DRIPA aimed to legalise blanket data retention for police investigations. In a separate ruling in September, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the UK’s mass interception programmes have breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

In September, letters from ORG supporters reinforced ORG’s submission to a Government Consultation on a new biometrics commissioner in Scotland, with a large majority of respondents in favour of establishing a new commissioner. The consultation marked an important step toward establishing an independent Scottish institution equipped with the right tools for oversight of 21st century surveillance technologies.

A pivotal year for DATA PROTECTION

When the 2018 Data Protection Act’s unjust “immigration exemption” threatened to undermine gains won from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ORG teamed up with the3million to challenge the Government in court. ORG teamed with Projects by IF to create Data Rights Finder, which is a tool that empowers the public to use their new GDPR rights. ORG also provided resources for victims of the Cambridge Analytica / Facebook data scandal.

Following outcry from thousands of ORG supporters over weak privacy rules, the implementation of age verification technology for adult websites (mandated by the Digital Economy Act nearly two years ago) has been postponed until at least April 2019.

Fighting the rise of automated CENSORSHIP

In a win against Internet censorship, the UK Supreme Court agreed with ORG’s call for greater safeguards against the abuse of web blocking orders. If trademark holders are able to demand blocks at no cost, it would open the door to large-scale blocking of many kinds of websites. ORG also helped to prevent the fast-tracking of Article 13 in the EU Copyright Directive, which would introduce upload filters that harm free expression in their blind pursuit of copyright enforcement.

ORG’s tech tool Blocked - which lets you easily check if your websites are blocked by UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) - increased our understanding of Europe’s censorship landscape by adding probes in a growing list of countries including Finland, Denmark and Poland.

Contributions from ORG members and corporate sponsors made 2018’s wins possible, along with the local organisers and activists who met us online and at over 60 events across the UK. Today’s supporter donations ensure our future work will pack a punch in 2019. If you haven’t already, please donate today while contributions are still matched.

Thank you for protecting digital rights.

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October 31, 2018 | Mike Morel

Supporter Newsletter: October 2018

There's plenty to be scared about this Halloween!

If you'd like to get ORG's digital rights updates in your inbox, click here.

"One-click" criminalisation threatens press freedom

ORG joined eight rights organisations to voice concerns to the Lords about threats to press freedom within the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill. The Bill proposes harsh sentences (up to 15 years in prison) for simply watching streamed extremist material. The "reasonable excuses" which allow journalists to view such videos for research are unclear, which can keep them from doing their jobs.

New guidance on Age Verification

The British Board for Film Classification (BBFC) was appointed as the regulator of Age Verification (AV) technology on pornographic websites and they have recently published this guidance. The good news? The BBFC acknowledged many of ORG's concerns and urged greater privacy protections for AV. The bad? Their recommendations are totally voluntary. With major data breaches making headlines on a regular basis, it is difficult to argue adequate protections should be optional. To make matters worse, the AV schemes may be up and running before the voluntary privacy rules are even written.

Post-Brexit trade & digital rights

Hundreds of ORG supporters submitted responses to the Government consultation on negotiations for UK/US trade relations. Rules for e-commerce and cross-border trade could have major impacts on digital censorship and privacy. ORG's primary request was for future trade negotiations to be made in public and under parliamentary oversight. 

Scotland's e-voting consultation

The Scottish Government recently published their analysis of a public consultation on electoral reform which included proposals for trials of electronic voting. When asked whether they would be more likely to vote if e-voting were available, 65% of the public said no. This shows what ORG has been arguing: e-voting does not improve participation and risks democratic integrity. The Government is still considering e-voting trials, but the subtle change in language to how trials might take place suggests the public has made them think twice. ORG supporters did a fantastic job in getting their concerns across to the Government. Thank you!

 

QUICKFIRE NEWS

Article 13 in the balance

Trilogue negotiations took a hopeful turn with Italy's new government now opposing Article 13's automated upload filters. The three-way talks are the last opportunity to mitigate the worst parts of the Directive before a final up or down vote in the EU Parliament expected early 2019.

Launch of GDPR Today

A new publication by European Digital Rights (EDRi) launched this week to document the impacts of the GDPR across Europe and beyond. Check out GDPR Today for the latest on the fallout from Big Tech data breaches.

Copyright & the courts

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) plans to change the process by which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block pirate sites. Administrative site blocking is being explored as an alternative to the current system which requires a High Court injunction. Sought by rights holders, the change could dramatically increase blocking while removing the benefits of case by case oversight.

 

ORG AROUND THE UK

ORG Bristol

Join us for an update from Privacy International on what's new in policing in the age of data exploitation.

Friday 9 November 2018 6pm-9pm

Bristol

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/resist-surveillance-presents-privacy-international-tickets-51111523944

ORG Cambridge

Join us to discuss ORG campaigns and the latest in digital rights issues.

Tuesday 6 November 2018 7pm-8:30pm

The Castle Inn, Cambridge CB3 OAJ

https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Cambridge/events/fdpwknyxpbjb/

ORG Aberdeen

Thursday 1 November 2018 6pm-8pm

Join us for a discussion with the British Computer Society about e-voting trials in Scotland. Robert Gordon University

Sir Ian Wood Building, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen AB10 7GJ

https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Aberdeen/events/255448120/

 

CORPORATE SUPPORTERS

We'd like to thank our new corporate supporters NordVPN and 1Password for joining us, and VPN Compare for renewal for their generous support!

 

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