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Supporter Newsletter


June 22, 2015 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: June 2015

This month we celebrate the positive news that independent reviews of surveillance legislation have come out criticising the plans for a revival of the Snoopers' Charter. We're also hosting launch events for ORG Scotland this month, and share a victory for the Save the Link campaign.

“It is time for a clean slate”

We have good news in the fight against mass surveillance!

In the Anderson report published last week, the UK's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation described the UK surveillance laws as, “fragmented, obscure, under constant challenge... undemocratic, unnecessary” and declared "it is time for a clean slate." David Anderson QC, was tasked with reviewing surveillance law as a requirement of the DRIPA. Unsurprisingly he does not condemn mass surveillance in principle, but the report calls for a radical overhaul of how surveillance is regulated, and that's a great start. His key points were:

Legal reform: A comprehensive and comprehensible new law is needed.
Warrants: Warrants should be signed off by judicial commissioners.
Snoopers' Charter: The Government hasn't made a strong enough case for why this is needed.

Anderson's review and the Intelligence and Security Committee's Privacy and Security report wouldn’t have happened were it not for Edward Snowden's revelations, and persistent campaigning from the digital rights community.

Support our campaign against the Snoopers’ Charter here.

ORG Scotland launch

This week we are launching ORG Scotland with a series of free events across Scotland. Our Press Launch at the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) on 25th June, will be attended by Patrick Harvie MSP and Willie Rennie MSP.

We have also organised a series of events across Scotland in Aberdeen (26th), Dundee (27th) and Glasgow (29th) and Edinburgh on the 29th. It's an exciting time to be fighting for digital rights in Scotland and we want you to be a part of it.

There will be talks from Wendy Grossman (Journalist, Activist and Open Rights Group Advisory Council member). These events will give you the opportunity to meet Pol Clementsmith, our newly hired Scotland Officer, who will be heading up ORG's campaigning in Scotland. Come listen to the talks, and tell Pol what you think we should be working on.

Release the Sheinwald report

With the passing in July 2014 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), Prime Minister David Cameron announced the nomination of a Special Envoy on intelligence and law enforcement data sharing.

Two months later, he chose Sir Nigel Sheinwald, a senior diplomat who has represented the United Kingdom in Brussels as well as Washington, to fill this role. His mission was to examine what can be done, in legal terms, to facilitate the access to customers' metadata detained by companies overseas, for instance in the US.

The report supposedly concludes that negotiating an international data sharing treaty would be the best option.
However, the Guardian revealed in June 2015 that this report would not be made public on the grounds that it contains sensitive details on company's operations.

This secrecy is just another way to protect the Snoopers' Charter, as this Bill also aims at accessing metadata stored by companies. Jim Killock, Executive Director was quoted by the Guardian as stating that,

“A new international treaty is the right approach to cross-border requests for data by law enforcement agencies. This approach undermines Theresa May’s claim that there is a need for a new Snooper’s Charter when there is a simple, transparent and workable solution.”

Save the Link victory

The Save the Link coalition campaigns to stop proposals that would limit our right to link freely online.

This week we celebrated a key success in the European Union Parliament. The Legal Affairs committee voted to pass a pro-Internet copyright report, updating the rules on how we share and collaborate online. A key debate was over a system nicknamed the ‘link tax’, where aggregators and search engines - Google News, Reddit, etc. - have to pay to use snippets as small as a single word to link to news articles. These systems are already in place in Germany and Spain.

The implementation of these rules has not been successful, with most publishers in Germany choosing to waive the fee in favour of being listed in search results. That’s why we were delighted when EU Parliamentarians, under pressure from over 65,000 people at SaveTheLink.org, rejected an amendment calling for expanding the ‘link tax’ to the rest of the EU.A move like this would have negatively affected Internet users across the globe, threatening freedom of expression, and setting a dangerous precedent.

Find out more about why this is a bad idea, and what the next steps are here.

International Open Data conference

Javier Ruiz, Policy Director, ran a workshop on privacy at the International Open Data Conference in Ottawa, Canada for government and civil society. The session explored how being open-by-default should not threaten the privacy and rights of citizens.

The workshop gave an introduction to basic concepts around privacy and open data to encourage critical thinking when considering releasing personal information. The session managed both to get participants to discuss in quite detail these issues, and also to flag privacy concerns more widely around the conference.

Quick Fire News

Challenging DRIPA in Court
Last year, ORG and Privacy International made submissions to a legal challenge to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) brought by Liberty on behalf of MPs David Davis and Tom Watson.

Our submission pointed out that DRIPA isn’t compliant with European laws. This was raised at a hearing at the High Court on 4th and 5th June, which also saw Liberty argue that DRIPA is incompatible with the Human Rights Act.

ORG Website changes
We’ve just revamped the ORG web site. Our Campaigns, Get Involved and Local Groups sites have had a complete overhaul and we’re really proud of how they look now. Please take a look and take action!

Labour Campaign for Human Rights
The Labour Campaign for Human Rights is building a grassroots movement within the Labour Party to oppose the Snoopers' Charter and curb mass surveillance. We would like to call on all ORG members who are also members of the Labour party to come forward and help LCHR pass motions opposing the Snoopers' Charter in their Constituency Labour Party. Five groups have already passed motions and LCHR would like to get more passed in the coming weeks. If you can help, please contact ailar.hashemzadeh@lchr.org.uk

Open Rights Group's Policy Report is back! Every week we produce a report on what's happening in digital rights politics across UK & Europe. You can subscribe to this newsletter here.

ORG out and about

Help us launch ORG Scotland
Open Rights Group is launching 'ORG Scotland' with our new Scotland Officer, Pol Clementsmith! We have organised a series of events in Scotland:

Aberdeen: Friday, June 26, 2015
6:15 PM to 8:30 PM
Meston Building, University of Aberdeen, King's College, AB24 3FX

Dundee: Saturday, June 27, 2015
2:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Dundee Contemporary Arts
152 Nethergate, Dundee

Glasgow: Sunday, June 28, 2015
2:30 PM to 5:00 PM
The Old Hairdresser's (opposite stereo) Renfield Lane, Glasgow, G2 6PH, Glasgow

Edinburgh: Monday, June 29, 2015
6:45 PM to 9:00 PM
Codebase

Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street Edinburgh, EH3 9DR, Edinburgh

Thank you

Everyone who takes part in our actions, attends an event, volunteers, or becomes a member, is helping politicians remember that we are not giving up on the right to privacy.

Thank you for supporting our work.

Best wishes,
Ruth

ings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference/getting-to-liverpool.html#sthash.VNoFeu08.dpuf

Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference/getting-to-liverpool.html#sthash.VNoFeu08.dpuf

ACC Liverpool

Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference/getting-to-liverpool.html#sthash.VNoFeu08.dpuf

 

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April 30, 2015 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: April 2015

It's impossible to miss that the General Election is only 1 week away, MPs have now become candidates again and come May 8th we'll have a new parliament and new government. We look at how our community has been raising awareness of digital rights across Britain.

 

It's not over yet, the election campaign is still going strong with all the parties out hunting for votes. We want to help you have your say in the results! Over the last few weeks we’ve been working with our supporters to get digital rights debated and to make sure you can be informed as possible about your vote.

1. The Great Mass Surveillance Survey

We have just launched our 2015 Election Candidates Mass Surveillance Survey!

Election survey website screen shot
All parliamentary candidates in Britain were asked the question: "How would you reform surveillance law, oversight and practice to respect the rights of law-abiding people?"

You can visit election.openrightsgroup.org and enter your postcode to see what answers your local candidate gave.

If your local politicians haven't replied, we've also gone through the mainfestos on your behalf and picked out out the most relevant parts on surveillance so you can see how each party stands on the issue.

2. Our local groups making a difference

Brighton husting crowd

Over the last few weeks our groups in Manchester, Bristol and Brighton have run hustings for their local candidates. These are public events where you can ask your parliamentary candidates about the things you care about.

Candidates from every party
told us where they stood on surveillance.Their considered answers demonstrated the value of speaking not only to your candidates, but your new MP. Every single debate was packed and our supporters asked great questions.

It was brilliant to see our groups organise these by teaming up with other local activists. In Manchester, Bristol and Brighton we worked with groups including 38 Degrees, Amnesty and Christian Aid. Together weve ensured that civil liberties are not left out of the equation.

3. Ask your question

It's worth turning up and asking a question at a hustings near you, even if you think the result in your area is decided. Seats that have traditionally been safe are now finding themselves in a competition, and we're going to have an incredibly close election.

Asking a question about civil liberties at a local event is a powerful way of reminding candidates that their consituencies care about their rights. If we can persuade candidates about surveillance now, it'll it easier to win privacy campaigns in the future.

You can find out if there's a hustings near you using meetyournextmp.com

4. Talk to me about surveillance

ORG's talk to your candidate poster Thanks to @SamH for use of his photo

Thanks to our recent membership growth we've been able to produce lots of materials for our supporters.

We have sent out ORG's Election Guide for Supporters and a poster for you to display to encourage candidates standing for MP to knock on your door and talk to you about surveillance. The guide includes questions you can ask, and the responses that you might get. If you didn't get a pack and would like to, please just reply to this email. You can also join ORG here.

5. Election training

London election training

In our London group we ran a General Election Training evening on how to make an impact this election, giving you the knowledge needed to be confident and effective activists this election.

We covered how to explain surveillance issues to other people, whether they are family members or the Prime Minister; on your own doorstep or at a public debate in the town hall.

Our community wrote 15 letters to local newspapers using our templates which they sent off on the evening.

Even if you couldn't make any of these events, you can still participate in any of these actions - there's plenty of time left to make a difference!

Thank you

Everyone who takes part in our actions, puts up a poster in the window, attends an event or becomes a member, is helping politicians remember that the right to privacy is not something we are giving up on.

Our community is doing an amazing job to work together and make digital rights into a big issue for candidates this election.

Thank you for supporting our work.

Quick Fire News

On Saturday 14th March, Open Rights Group ran workshops with young women about online privacy at Being Watched, an all day conference for young women, aimed at helping them to regain control in the online world. During our four sessions, we spoke to teenage girls about how people lose control of information about themselves online. Within five minutes of the opening we were getting questions about whether Facebook could read their messages, and it only got more interesting. You can read more about the day on our blog.

In new Gods we trust
Executive Director Jim Killock gave an in-depth profile interview to Open Democracy, discussing the full breadth of digital rights issues we work on including: bulk collection, state bureaucracies, trust and 'the pre-crime era'.

Open Rights Group have filed amicus curiae briefs with the Hungarian Constitutional Court, alongside Privacy International and a group of internationally acknowledged experts.
The case has been brought by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), in an attempt to force the Hungarian Constitutional Court to repeal their Electronic Communications Act. Our submissions focus on the importance of EU law and why the Hungarian law does not comply with it.

We have joined a network of over 30 organizations from 12 countries to “Save The Link”. The international campaign has been launched in response to a major copyright review in the EU which includesamendments to the European Union’s Copyright Directive that would fundamentally undermine the right to link. The use of hyperlinks themselves, a fundamental part of how we all use the web, could become copyright infringement. Sign the petition to save the link here.

ORG out and about

Shape the future of ORG London 11 May, 19.00
We will be running an interactive feedback, brain storming and planning session to talk about what you want from the group.
119 Farringdon Road
London

Internet Censorship: The Collapse of Russia's Democratic Dream ORG London meetup, 18 May, 7.30pm
An introduction to Internet censorship in Russia, from researcher Gregory Asmolov
119 Farringdon Road
London



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March 06, 2015 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: March 2015

This month we launched our Scotland Office, a new local group in Oxford and #digitalrightsmatter, a day of fundraising and awareness for our campaigning work.

Digital Rights Matter

Thanks for supporting our work and taking part in our campaigns.

2015 has had some amazing moments for digital rights already. We took down the threat of a sneaked in Snoopers’ Charter and we’ve ensured that national ID cards for Scotland won’t be happening any time soon. We’ve also had some fantastic membership growth, which means big things happening at the election:

1. ORG’s ‘civil liberties’ hustings will be going ahead in early to mid April in: Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester. We’ve now got other local groups on board including 38 Degrees and Friends of the Earth.

2. ORG are excited to be working with Democracy Club to improve how candidates, campaigners and voters communicate! We're building a website that aggregates questions from organisations and puts them to candidates.

We are almost at 300 new supporters this year! We’re so close to our goal, and on Thursday 16th March we're giving our membership one big boost: holding #digitalrightsmatter day. We’re asking people to join ORG on one day for that last push to 300 new members.

But for everoyne to take notice, we need to all share it together at once. Celebrate your support of ORG's work and raise awareness of our one day fundraiser for our campaign work by signing up to our Thunderclap and joining ORG.

More on how to show your support.

Launching ORG Scotland 

Over the last year we’ve been working away on raising funds to found ORG Scotland. We listened to our supporters who saw that there were unique threats to their rights in Scotland, and that no one was campaigning on them. We’re now excited to announce that we will are hiring a new member of staff, who will be based in Edinburgh.

We’ve also launched our first campaign in Scotland. We were concerned that planned changes to the Scottish NHS database would make the government able to turn it into a national register of Scottish citizens

Hundreds of people used our tool to respond to the consultation on these proposals. We’ve held several public events, got lots of media coverage, and our Director Jim Killock has been in Edinburgh speaking to MSPs this week. Our concerns are now being raised in Holyrood. It shows exactly what ORG is here for – spreading a message and bringing about change on an issue that matters to everyone but few were talking about.

This is why joining matters. Your membership of ORG has made a huge difference, so thank you so much for your commitment to digital rights.

Privacy not Prism case update

On February 6th the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) found that the practice of secret intelligence sharing between the UK and the US was unlawful (prior to December 2014) because the policies governing these arrangements were secret. Ironically they became legal after December because the Snowden revelations ensured they were no longer secret! These policies were made public during a case brought by Privacy International, Bytes for All, Liberty, and Amnesty International.

Now that this ruling has been made it also means our Privacy not Prism case which challenges intelligence sharing and GCHQ’s TEMPORA programme, will also be going forward. It was pending at the European Court of Human Rights, awaiting the outcome of an IPT case.

It is the first time the IPT has found the UK’s intelligence services to be in breach of human rights law. However, the IPT has not gone far enough. GCHQ’s own TEMPORA programme of mass interception is clearly both unlawful and disproportionate. We hope the European Court of Human Rights will go further and find that mass surveillance breaches our human right to privacy.

Data protection leaks

Appalling revelations that our data protection rights are being completely undermined in Europe came out this week.

The EU Data Protection Directive has been unravelled by business and security lobbying, leaked documents show. In 2012 we campaigned for the legislation to modernise our data protection rights, something which was urgently needed as more big digital companies gather masses of information on our lives.

However when European Parliament's version of the Directive reached the Council (made up of heads of state) the states attacked key protections like:the right to be asked for consent, the right to know how your data is used and the right to object to your data being used. For example, national governments say that a business which has permission to use your data should be allowed to pass that on again to another company, without telling you.

The legislation now puts our personal data at risk where it was intended to secure it.Joe MacNamee of EDRi said the regulation is now at risk of becoming “an empty shell” and have provided a full analysis of the leaked text. We must campaign to ensure that it's Parliament's version of the new rules that gets passed.

Local Groups news

We are very happy to announce that a new Local Group has been formed by our fantastic supporters in Oxford! They will holding a launch event in late March with ORG Executive Director Jim Killock - Reserve Your Place. Get event updates on MeetUp and chat with people near you on their Mailing List.

If you are not in one of our 4 main hustings locations (Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester) you can still help us, as we are encouraging supporters to ask questions about ORG issues (copyright, censorship and mass surveillance) at other local hustings. You can start seeing who is participating by discussing it on one of our Local Mailing Lists.

Quick Fire News

CITIZENFOUR by Laura Poitras brings home the scale of the surveillance undertaken by the intelligence agencies behind our backs. We were delighted that its achievement as was one of the most remarkable scoops in the history of film-making was recognised by the Oscar for 'best documentary'. You can read why the Oscar matters here.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (who examine issues related to the security agencies and governmental intelligence activities) are expected to release their report, the 2014 Privacy and Security Inquiry on 12th March. This report could be influential on future surveillance reform. Although we and many other NGOs and civil society groups gave submissions to the inquiry, and were expert witnesses during the early stages it may be used in election campaigning to propose furthering the surveillance. We’ll be keeping an eye on it and sending more information on what it contains and means for us all next week.

ORG out and about

The Surveillance Society, Scottish Public Law group, Thursday 5 March: 5.45
Elizabeth Knight, Legal Director, will be speaking on the question Do we live in a surveillance society?
University of Strathclyde.
Glasgow

Stop TTIP! How Greens and campaigners are working to stop the EU-US trade deal, Saturday 7th March 4.00 - 5.15
ORG Campaigner Ed Paton Williams will be speaking at the Green Party conference, session open to the public.
ACC Building, King's Dock, Liverpool, Merseyside.

Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference/getting-to-liverpool.html#sthash.VNoFeu08.dpuf
Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference/getting-to-liverpool.html#sthash.VNoFeu08.dpuf
ACC Liverpool
Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference/getting-to-liverpool.html#sthash.VNoFeu08.dpuf

Being Watched,Saturday 14th March 4, all day.
Lydia is leading a workshop for young women on who is making the decisions about the privacy settings on Facebook and social media.
Birley Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Bonsall Street, Manchester, M15 6GX

ORG-Oxford Monday 9th March 6.00
This will be the first meeting of an Oxford group and is open to anyone interested in finding out more about the digital issues that affect our future, hosted by Jim Killock.
Oxford

Mass Surveillance, Liberty and Activism with ORG Director Jim Killock, Wednesday, March 25, 2015
7:15 -
9:00
Executive Director Jim Killock will give a talk followed by a Q&A with questions from the audience about mass surveillance, liberty and activism.
Quaker Meeting House

10 St James Street, Sheffield

Assemblies for Democracy,
28th March,London
11th April, Glasgow
18th April, Manchester
from 10am.
Assemblies for Democracy are a series of free events aiming to bring together diverse views about how we can develop democracy. There will be sessions on the emergence of surveillance & open space to propose your own talk.

Get Involved

As the parties puts surveillance on the agenda for the general election, it’s our job to stand up for your rights online. If you have a moment to spare can you help us by donating to support our work, becoming a member of ORG or signing up to our Thunderclap

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January 23, 2015 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: January 2015

This month we respond to a series of threats to digital rights as Lords attempt to slip in the Snoopers' Charter as 18 pages of amendments and David Cameron proposes harming encryption.

Lords try to sneak in the Snoopers’ Charter

The Counter Terrorism and Security Bill is being debated on Monday, but suddenly it’s turned into a totally different beast. Four peers have decided to insert the Snoopers’ Charter into the law, as 18 pages of amendments.

The amendments are nearly identical in form to the draft Communications Data Bill, which was previously scrutinized by a parliamentary committee who concluded that it was inappropriate. All the problems with the Snoopers’ Charter - that its figures were “fanciful and misleading,” that it, “pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy,” are still there.

Laying 18 pages of amendments before the Lords to insert the Snoopers' Charter into an already complicated Bill is an abuse of our democratic system. The Lords cannot have time to properly consider the bill, and would deny the Commons the opportunity to consider the clauses as well.

You can stop this happening! Please

1. Write to a Lord (they don't have constituencies, so you have to pick one at random)

2. Ask them to debate #SnoopersCharter on Monday

3. Send them our briefing

Sky switch on censorship

Sky Broadband have just announced they will automatically apply‘under 13’ level web-filters to all customers, unless the account-holder opts out. They say: "It's better for people to make their own choice, but until they do, we believe this process to be the safest one.”

Choosing on your behalf to cut off access to huge amounts of the Internet, is not what the Government agreed with ISPs. Sky Broadband’s explanations about filters do not offer an informed choice - they mention none of their disadvantages or limitations.

By imposing filtering as a default, they are using sneaky nudge tactics, knowing that most people just take the defaults given to them. This may just be to increase their uptake as only 8% of new customers have taken them up till now,

Far from being perfect, web filters block sites nobody could object to, while failing to block others that are unquestionably adult in nature. They are also conflating sites "deemed unsuitable for under 13s," a broad and subjective category with "adult content". It includes legal content like resources on sexual health and drugs.

Are you a Sky customer? Please let us know how the filters affect you. We’d love to share your story.

You can find out what sites are blocked on Sky using our Blocked tool.

Is encryption at risk?

Last week David Cameron declared war on encryption. His statement that there shouldn't be communications the Government can't read was the latest in a series of rushed reactions to the atrocities in Paris. We believe that we must protect our rights and freedoms, not throw them away when they are attacked.

The idea that law enforcement and security services should always be able to read communications is an impossible goal.

Cameron is seeking to pressurise companies to put back doors into encryption software, but he will find a great deal of resistance. Companies are unlikely to sacrifice tools that make their products effective. The prospect of lowering privacy and security across the globe begins to look bizarre and we hope that he will provide a full explanation of these proposals.

Vote for digital rights

As the parties puts surveillance on the agenda for the general election, it’s our job to stand up for your rights online.

Right now we are putting together our election campaign plans to stop mass surveillance, and we need your help.

The Government are acting as though privacy is a lost concept, but in fact it’s something that people rely on every day. For many people it is vital to feel safe online, whether that's wanting to search medical terms in confidence or contact Samaritans, and that's why we're concerned by requests for even more powers for security services, but also increasing use of surveillance powers by public bodies, and private companies.

We're not just fighting for privacy, but for giving people control over their lives.

That’s why we're going to be launching our election campaign soon to raise awareness about what’s happening to our privacy. However, we need more support to make it happen.

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/join

Join today and help us protect fundamental rights like privacy and free speech.

Thank you for your support of digital rights!

Best wishes,
Ruth

Quick Fire News

ORG has signed up to an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in a Microsoft case prepared by lawyers for Digital Rights Ireland in the ‘Microsoft warrant case’.The case involves US law enforecement seeking access to Microsoft email data held in Ireland. You can read more about our involvement in the case here.

European Digital Rights at Risk
EDRi, the European Digital Rights group are the umbrella organization of which ORG and 32 other digital rights groups are members. They do an amazing job providing policy expertise, and monitoring on Europe to all of us. However, EDRi’s existence is at stake. This year their current funding ends, if you can please donate to ensure they don’t lose their capability to fight on our behalf in Europe.

Your Next MP
Can you help with a crowdfunding election project? MySociety have built a site that’s gathering data about who’s standing at the General Election. This is a brilliant tool and we hope to use it for our ‘where do your candidates stand on surveillance?’ website, but they need your help. Could you improve your candidates' details. You'll be making a better data source for everyone: yournextmp.com

ORG out and about

Copyright4Creativity, 20-22 January
Policy Director, Javier Ruiz has been meeting MEPs and European Commissioners to talk about the future of copyright.
Brussels

ORG London - bringing justice on drone strikes
Monday 16 February, 19.30
Jennifer Gibson who gave a brilliant talk on drone strikes at ORGCon will be expanding on that subject and explaining the work that she does with Reprieve.
The Castle Pub
34-35 Cowcross Street EC1M 6DB
Farringdon
London

Coding for Social Change: Friday 30 January, 13.00
Executive Director Jim Killock will be speaking at a free public event to discuss the ways in which digital technologies are transforming society.
1-5pm, Birt Acres Lecture Theatre, Cardiff University.

Surveillance and Citizenship: 18/19 June
Deadline for submission of proposals: 15 February
A two-day conference and workshop series on the implications of the Snowden revelations for policy, technology, activism and media.
Cardiff University

Digital Conversations @ British Library: A Web of Rights: Thursday 19 February 2015, 18:00 - 20:15
Jim Killock, will be speaking at a debate on how and in what ways the web has changed the rights of citizens for better or for worse.
The British Library (1st floor Staff Restaurant)
96 Euston Road, London
NW1 2DB

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November 03, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: October 2014

This month we are celebrating three brilliant wins as we bring transparency to web blocking on several fronts and format shifting and parody came into law. Plus, an opportunity to get free tickets to ORGCon2014.

Free ORGCon2014 tickets & three big successes

There are lots of reasons to join ORG. You can read below about our amazing successes: legal interventions achieving protections for transparency and mistakes. We’ve raised money to take the Error 451 project forward and Parliament brought format shifting and parody into law!

But right now there’s one excellent bonus reason to give us your support: A free ticket for ORGCon2014 to see Cory Doctorow and others give inspirational talks.

JOIN HERE: www.openrightsgroup.org/join

ORGCon is our annual conference for the digital rights community and a  great opportunity to see some of the legends of digital rights speak. Plus we have have a plethora of expert presenters from across the broad range of online rights interests – journalists, businesses, hackers, academics politicians, lawyers, activists!

Take a look at some of the interesting sessions at ORGCon2014:
https://orgcon.openrightsgroup.org/2014/programme

You can see all this for FREE if you join ORG today:
www.openrightsgroup.org/join

(Details on your free ticket are in your welcome email. Alternatively buy your ticket here.)

Success 1:
Error 451 project makes court orders public

We would like to say a big thank you to all those who donated in response to our request to help us obtain and transcribe court orders on blocked websites. We're delighted to say that thanks to you we exceeded our target, receiving over £1,590.

Elizabeth, our Legal Director, recently went to the High Court and was able to collect 35 blocking orders ready to be transcribed. We’re proud to be able to finally start work on the transcription and make this information public. The first 6 have now been put up on our Error 451 site: http://www.451unavailable.org/

However, there are many physical pages of legalese that needs to be written up and made transparent.  If you have some legal experince and the time to help us transcribe the orders we would be very grateful.  It’s a big task, but with a Wikipedia-style team of volunteers we can make web blocking open.

If you are able to offer some time please get in touch by emailing volunteer@openrightsgroup.org.

Success 2:
Format shifting and parody legal at last

On 1 October 2014, new rules for personal copying, parody, and quotation came into force in the UK.

This was a major victory for ORG after seven years of campaigning for these reforms. A big thank you to everyone who helped make this happen!

The first new exception for ‘personal copying’ means you can now backup your music collection, or even format shift it, (eg. turning CDs into MP3s) so long as it’s for your personal use. Breaking DRM, the anti-copying technology often built into DVDs and other media, is still unlawful. However, the legislation does allow you to apply to the Secretary of State if you want to remove the Digital Rights Management (DRM) access controls.

The law also includes a parody exception, which means you can use copyright material in order to create a spoof, pastiche or parody.

It's a brilliant win which means that comedy and criticial pastiche are at last protected. You can read more details about the new law here: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2014/victory-format-shifting-and-parody-clear-last-hurdle

Success 3:
ORG's safeguards accepted in website blocking case

ORG's intervention had a significant impact on a landmark case about internet trade mark infringement that was handed down 2 weeks ago by the High Court in London.

The court decided that it could orders ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block specific websites selling fake goods.

However, Mr Justice Arnold adopted the key ORG submission that such orders should always contain safeguards against abuse.
He also adopted ORG’s proposals that information on the blocking should be included on landing pages and there should be “sunset clauses” as safeguards against abuse. He thanked ORG for its “brief, moderate and helpful” written submissions. We're very pleased to be taking on this kind of work, and making an important impact on web blocking transparency.

David Allen Green, lawyer at Preiskel & Co LLP, who acted for ORG pro bono said that "We hope that this intervention will go some way to help ensure that future claimants cannot use blocking orders to restrict legitimate activity or free speech.”


The case was covered in the Guardian and Bloomberg, and you can read more details about it in our blog

Quick Fire News

As part of the 2014 Privacy and Security Inquiry, the ISC (Intelligence and Security Commitee) called witnesses to give statements on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the witnesses called was Jim Killock, ORG's Executive Director, who spoke about how security services are undermining security for all through introducing backdoors, and the need for stronger oversight.

ORG Co-founder and Advisory Council member Cory Doctorow gave talks to ORG's local groups in Sheffield and Manchester this month. The Manchester group hosted at Waterstones as part of the literary festival and had great attendance, with book signings and lots of questions. You can get involved with your local ORG Group and put on events like this.

ORG has applied to intervene in the case brought by MPs Tom Watson and David David against the Government on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act. The Government rushed the Act through Parliament earlier this year.

On 4 October, twenty people got together for ORG's digital-rights hack-day at Mozilla's community space in Covent Garden. Find out what happened and how you can help take the projects we started further. 

ORG out and about

Freeing the Internet: How hard can it be? Thursday, November 6, 2014 6:30 PM
Join ORG Manchester and Open Data Manchester for a talk on the evolution of the internet from Wendy M. Grossman - an award-winning journalist wars between cyberspace and real life for 20 years
MadLab 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester

Practical Privacy Tools for Everyone; Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 7:00 PM
Bring your laptops, phones and other devices. ORG Sheffield will help you to install and understand tools you can use to maintain your privacy online.
Access Space Unit 1, AVEC Building, 3-7 Sidney Street, Sheffield S1 4RG, Sheffield

ORGCon2014
15th - 16th November,
10:00 AM -5:30 PM
ORG’s annual conference is a brilliant place to meet other ORG supporters and to hear from incredible speakers on digital rights topics.
15th: Franklin, Wilkins Building, King's College London, Waterloo 
16th: The Foundry, Oval 

Open Source and the Cloud for Business 18th November, 14:00
ORG supporters from Brighton are organising and attending an event on Open Source and the Cloud for businesses and the public sector.
Sussex County Cricket Club, Hove, BN3 3AN

Join ORG today!

Join today and help us do even more to fight to protect fundamental rights like privacy and free speech.

YOU are what makes our work possible. Without support from donations we wouldn't be able to do any of the above work.

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/join/

Thank you for your support of digital rights!

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September 12, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: September 2014

This month we launched ticket sales for ORGCon and are delighted that Cory Doctorow will be giving our opening talk. We also take a look at the future of ORG in Scotland, revelations of RIPA abuse, and the future of copyright legislation.

Digital Rights in Scotland: Decision Time

As the vote on Scottish Independence fast approaches, we’re worried by what the lack of a strong network of rights organisations means for Scotland.

Day-to-day decisions involve digital rights issues. Do you buy the Smart Meter the energy company are pushing at you? Do you accept the Terms & Conditions for this free app you wanted? Do you share that video, that joke, that tweet?

Every week ORG are asked to comment on issues like these and address the big questions about who is watching us, where our data is going, and what we can freely say. We need to have the same ability to comment on and campaign about these issues in Scotland, and in the specific context of Scottish law.

We believe it is absolutely necessary for digital rights to be part of the discussion on the future of Scotland and an ORG Scotland office could help address these issues.

If you’d like to help us to build ORG Scotland, please encourage your friends to become a member.
www.openrightsgroup.org/join/join-org-scotland

We will also be at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow on Sunday 5th October.

The Don’t Spy On Us is asking the question, "Surveillance how do we reform RIPA and protect civil liberties?". Confirmed speakers include 
Julian Huppert MP
Eric Metcalfe - Barrister, Monckton Chambers
Paul Johnson - Deputy Editor, The Guardian
Jo Glanville - Director, English PEN
Jim Killock - Director, Open Rights Group

The event is open to everyone,conference delegates and members of the public alike.

100 Eastvale Place, Glasgow SWG3

RIPA misuse exposed

It was revealed last week that the Met police accessed the telephone records of The Sun's Political Editor, Tom Newton Dunn, using a RIPA request.

The case should end any discussion about whether or not metadata reveals anything personal about us: Newton Dunn's calls and when and where they were received, were seen as enough to identify a whistleblower, who contacted him over the Plebgate scandal.

Journalistic privilege, protected by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, was circumvented by the use of RIPA. Newton Dunn was not even aware that his records had been accessed until the Met published their report into the Plebgate affair.

When DRIP was announced, Newton Dunn wrote in The Sun, that the new powers would give MI5 and cops, "crucial access to plotters' mobile phone records". UK public authorities use RIPA over 500,000 a year to access private data. The police refused to answer questions as to how many times they have have accessed journalists' data. When this is happening without our knowledge, we cannot ignore the threat to our civil liberties that data retention poses. 

Join us at ORGCon2014  this Autumn

ORGCon tickets are on sale! The early programme has been published, and we are pretty excited about this year's ORGCon. Join us on 15th-16th November at Kings College London.

There will be a keynote from ORG-founder, author, BoingBoing Editor and campaigner Cory Doctorow!

For the first time we’ll be having a second day where supporters can gather together to hack new tech projects, come up with campaign ideas and run their own sessions.

As the General Election approaches we’ll be talking about how to challenge a culture of surveillance. We’re gathering opinions and experts on the issue from all sides of the experience: home affairs representatives, those who have been victims of state surveillance, whistle-blowers and those who have suffered privacy invasion from stalkers, employers or the job centre.

We’ve sold a huge number of tickets already, and we still have so much more waiting to be announced. Please invite your friends along, ORGCon is a great place to talk about the current big issues of the Internet, make friends and meet with some amazing people.

Tickets for supporters are only £10: orgcon.openrightsgroup.org

Search Engine Law warning

Last week UK Culture Secretary Sajid Javid made some worrying declarations, threatening search engines with legislation unless they stop “sending people to illegal sites”.

In his speech to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) he chose to make copyright enforcement the focus, laying out what the Government may have on the horizon. Sajid Javid informed us that he has written to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo asking them to stop “sending people to illegal sites”, threatening a legislative approach if he doesn’t see “real progress” on piracy.

However, we believe the close links between Governent and industry is concerning. All stakeholders involved, not just industry, including consumers and amateur creators must be considered in copyright enforcement.

Read Policy Director Javier Ruiz's thorough piece explaining why copyright is an fuzzy area, and examining Saijid Javid's speech in full.

Quick Fire news

We need your help to improve transparency around website blocking by court order. We've launched a fundraiser to support our project, 451 Unavailable, which will help ISPs make it clear why websites are blocked. We need all the court orders, but each one costs £10. Please consider donating to help us bring transparency to blocking.

ORG out and about

9 September - 10th September
Richard King, Project Manager, was in Istanbul delivering a workshop on censorship and surveillance.

Labour Conference, Sunday September 21st,  6.30pm.

Open Debate 'Surveillance, where do you draw the line?' with Labour MPs, MEPs and representatives of Don't Spy on Us.
Anthony Burgess Museum
M1 5BY

Digital Rights Hack Day, Saturday October 4th
10.00am - 9.00pm
Join us for a free hack day, we've got lots of ideas, projects to share, pizza and only a few places left.
Mozilla Office
101 St. Martin's London
WC2N 4AZ


Liberal Democrat Conference, Sunday, October 5th, 6.15pm
Open Debate 'Surveillance, where do you draw the line?' with Lib Dem MPs, MEPs and representatives of Don't Spy on Us.
100 Eastvale Place, Glasgow
SWG3

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June 23, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: June 2014

This month we celebrate a series of victories for standing up for your privacy. We've made ISPs sit up and listen on Data Retention, co-hosted the UK's biggest privacy event and hired our first legal position.

Data Rention: Keeping the pressure on ISPs

On Thursday we asked you to contact your ISPs to demand they stop retaining customers' email, SMS, web and phone data. In just 4 days over 1300 ORG supporters have done so.

The EU ruled in April that the Data Retention Directive breached the fundamental right to privacy. Yet the Government is still advising ISPs to retain the data. We've already seen ISPs set up new responses to our complaints action, so we know that they are paying attention - though we can see they are passing the blame onto the government.

It is for the courts, not the government, to decide whether the UK Data Retention Regulations should continue to be applied. And that's where we plan to be going next to take action to make ISPs stop retaining customer's emails, SMS and web data. The high level of customer concern may be helpful as evidence in any legal action ORG might take against the government.

If you haven't yet contacted your ISP – Please contact them to register your concern!

Don't Spy on Us success

Saturday, June 7 was the Don’t Spy on Us Day of Action to mark the anniversary of the Snowden Revelations. The sell-out conference, was the biggest privacy event of the year with #DontSpyOnUs trending on Twitter all day.

Highlights include Stephen Fry’s video message criticising the government for their “rancid” spying, followed by Cory Doctorow who argued “privacy for the weak, transparency for the strong”. Other speakers included Guardian Editor Alan Rushbridger and journalist Ewen MacAskill, both giving their accounts of breaking the Snowden story.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales closed reminding us about global effective collective gobal action over SOPA: "We know how to change the world. Let's start doing it."

You can read our full report and actions from the day here.

Halting HMRC plans for personal data sales

We handed in our tax data sell-off petition to HMRC on May 15th, along with ORG Advisory Council member Julian Huppert MP and campaign groups 38 Degrees and SumofUs.

Over 300,000 people signed petitions, which were started by ORG, 38 Degrees and SumofUs after we found out that HMRC was considering sharing anonymised tax data for commercial research. Under these plans it is very difficult to give or withdraw consent. ORG supporters from groups across the country will be meeting their MPs this month to let them know this issue matters.

ORG is currently engaged with HMRC and the Cabinet Office in discussions around the sharing of personal data held by the Government. We'll keep you updated with how that's going.

Save the Date! ORGCon 2014

As soon as the Day of Action ended we were hard at work putting together plans for ORGCon2014. Our annual event is Britain's only digital rights conference, where activists, campaigners, lawyers, academics and experts gather in one place to stand up for human rights. This year's ORGCon will be all about putting digital rights on the general election agenda. We'll be launching our election work and have some incredible guests lined up for the event.

When: November 15th, Kings College London

Keep the date in your diaries and watch this space for early bird ticket sales and the first speaker announcements!

Classified: Out now

We'd like to invite you to watch our new film, CLASSIFIED, on the state of mass surveillance in the UK.

We expose the failure of the Government to oversee the agencies that are scooping up massive amounts of personal data in the name of national security. MPs including Dominic Raab, David Davis, Julian Huppert and Tom Watson admit they didn't know about the extent of surveillance until the Guardian published the revelations.

We're also running film screenings around the country at our local groups, so you can get together with ORG supporters to watch and discuss. You can also watch online or download here.

ORG's Legal Stream Kicks off

We're delighted to let you know that ORG's first legal staff member is in place! ORG supporters helped us fundraise for a full time Legal Director to work with ORG co-ordinating our legal work. We're very happy to welcome Elizabeth Knight to our staff.

Elizabeth is a solicitor with experience working for NGOs, as well as in the city and for the Government. Most recently she worked at Amnesty International where she authored a major advocacy document and worked on issues around surveillance. She practises litigation, which has included human rights, judicial review and intellectual property work.

We're excited about the upcoming legal projects planned. One of the major issues she will be working on is Error 451 and copyright blocking orders, and our data retention challenge.

Quick Fire ORG News

Thank you to all who helped with the European Election WePromise campaign. ORG joined with digitals rights groups across Europe to ask MEP candidates to pledge to sign the WePromise charter. The results are out and you can check on the WePromise site whether your new MEP stands with us.

Vodafone released their transparency report this month, announcing that they intended to help inform the debate on security and privacy. However, Vodafone withheld certain statistics about the volume of their own communications data. We believe it is important for everyone to be clear about the volumes and kind of requests they are getting.

The Cabinet Office is looking into removing barriers to sharing or linking different databases across Government departments. The rationale is that this can help Government “design and implement evidence based policy”. Policy Director Javier attended on your behalf to ensure rules of consent around your private data were discussed. 

 

ORG out and about

Freeing the Internet: How hard can it be? Monday 14 July , 6.30pm
Join ORG Edinburgh for a talk on the evolution of the internet from Wendy M. Grossman - an award-winning journalist who for more than 20 years has covered the border wars between cyberspace and real life.
Informatics Forum

10 Crichton Street
EH8 9AB
Edinburgh 
#noTTIP Demo, 12th July 2014
Join ORG as we take part in the UK Day of Action against TTIP
London
Department for BIS
1 Victoria Street, SW1H 0ET
12 noon

ORG Norwich Meet-up, Thursday 19th June 6pm 
Join us for a screening of Open Rights Group’s new short film, CLASSIFIED, on mass surveillance within the U.K plus a catch-up on ORG's national campaigns.
MMK Digital,

1 Labour in Vain Yard, Norwich

Javier Ruiz, Policy Director, is facilitating two sessions at the Open Knowledge Festival in Berlin, covering privacy and surveillance.

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April 30, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: April 2014

We announce our Indiegogo success for a new campaign video on filtering and let you know about Quiz Your MEP events across the country. We're also celebrating the ECJ decision on the Data Retention Directive and looking for your help on the next steps.

Will your MEPs protect digital rights?

The European elections are on 22nd May and we want to know which candidates will stand up for your digital rights.

From ACTA to the Data Protection Regulation, most big digital issues are affected by European rules. How will candidates protect us from mass surveillance? Will they support your right to Internet access? Will they oppose censorship?

To answer these questions, you can attend one of our MEP 'Any Questions?' events being hosted across the country. This is your chance to ask your candidates where they stand on these issues.

We're also speaking to candidates from all the political parties and asking them to sign on to support the WePromise 10 point charter. So far 24 UK candidates have agreed to these principles!

We're having a real effect on making digital issues part of the European election agenda.

See the events list for details of events in your region.

Stop UK Censorship: Amazing response

We asked our supporters to back our plan to bring filtering back onto the political agenda. We were overwhelmed by the support we received to our fundraiser. Together we've raised £12,000 in just 2 weeks to allow us to make a funny, high-quality campaign video!

Every major Internet Service Provider is promoting filters, which censor the Internet, block sites by mistake and give parents a false sense of security. It happened without any parliamentary debate or scrutiny, let alone something as democratic as a Bill.

But thanks to you we're going to launch a campaign to make the public aware of this important issue. We are so grateful to everyone for contributing!

We’ve reached the target but still have one special offer. For £500 you can get your name in the film. Any other donations will help us promote the film to make sure it has as much impact as possible.

Data retention overturned

This month, we celebrated the ruling by the European Court of Justice that the 2006 Data Retention Directive is invalid. This decision will have huge effects for those of us fighting against mass surveillance.

Under the Directive, telecoms companies were obliged to hold location and traffic data, for up to 2 years. In the case brought by Digital Rights Ireland, the ECJ found that the Directive did not define enough restrictions to limit this intrusion into our privacy.

Significantly, the ECJ recognised that location data does, ''provide very precise information” on our private lives. The Court's recognition that metadata is very revealing will help us campaign in the UK and in Europe against mass surveillance.

Now that the Directive no longer exists, we are asking ISPs what they are doing. ORG has written to BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin to ask them to explain how they will be treating user data.

Help us challenge the Government

We are are looking to contest Data Retention regulations in the UK, if the Government claims they are still in force. Will you help us mount a challenge on Government surveillance?

We need a volunteer who would be eligible for legal aid and fits these criteria to help us:

  • An individual internet/mobile user, who is concerned about retention of their data by telecoms companiess and wishes to challenge the UK Regulations, on the back of the recent Digital Rights Ireland case.

  • If you have been particularly affected (e.g. by receiving 'illegal downloading' letters or similar) then that is even better, but not necessary.

  • To be eligible for legal aid then you must be on 'passported benefits'  (income support, income-based JSA, income-based employment/support allowance or universal credit) or on a low income, and must also have relatively low capital.

If this sounds like you, please get in touch and email jim@openrightsgroup.org

ORG Scotland planning day

Many supporters are concerned by the direction the Scottish Parliament is taking with civil liberties. There are a number of digital issues, from Entitlement cards to website blocking, that are the responsibility of MSPs. However, no rights organisation is currently working on these issues.That's why we've launched a campaign to fund opening an ORG Scotland office.

Whether we hire an activism organiser, a policy expert or a part-time Director, we hope to begin working on Scottish campaigns very soon.

We're holding an event in Edinburgh on Saturday 10th May to discuss the future of ORG Scotland and how to deal with devolved digital rights campaigns. Please come along to help support us and help make this project possible.

Quick fire ORG news

Quiz your MEP: European Digital Rights Hustings Dates

ORG-Manchester Hustings,
Tuesday 6th May, 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Friends Meeting House
Mount Street
Behind Central Library
Manchester M2 5NS  

ORG-Sheffield Hustings, Thursday 8th May 6.30pm- 8.30pm
St Mary's Church & Conference Centre,
Bramall Lane, Sheffield, S2 4QZ, Sheffield

ORG-Bristol Hustings,Friday 9th May, 6.30pm -  8.30pm
St Werburgh's Community Centre
Horley Road, Bristol, BS2 9TJ, Bristol

ORG-Norwich Hustings, Monday 12th May, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Norwich Quaker Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, NR2 1Ew, Norwich

ORG-London Hustings, Thursday 15th May, 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Shoreditch Village Hall,
33 Hoxton Square N1 6NN, London

ORG-Brighton Hustings, Friday 16th May 2, 6.30pm - 8.30pm
BMEP Centre
10A Fleet Street. Brighton, BN1 4ZE, Brighton

ORG out and about

ORG Scotland discussion day with Charlie Stross, Jim Killock and others, Saturday 10 May, 12.30pm, 6.00pm
A discussion on dealing with devolved digital rights campaigns & how to reach out to communities across Scotland.
Informatics Forum

10 Crichton Street
EH8 9AB
Edinburgh  

ORG-Cardiff, Cryptoparty - Protect Your Online Privacy in the Age of Mass Surveillance, Saturday, 10 May, 2014 2.00pm - 5.00pm
Founders Hub,
119 St Mary Street, Cardiff  

 

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