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July 30, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - July 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Community fundraising - - Two interception consultations - - Media makers meeting - - Advisory appointments - - Press -

News

  • Community fundraising: ORG needs you!
  • We're planning a supporter drive for September. For it to work, and for our campaign successes to continue, we'll need your help to convince your mates and colleagues that digital rights matter. Let them know that joining Open Rights is the best way to protect and extend their rights online. To help and thank you we'll post out a recruiter pack to existing supporters who offer to recruit a single person. Send a blank email with 'recruiter' in the subject line to supporters at openrightsgroup dot org if you're up for it.

  • Two interception consultations
  • We teamed up with the Foundation for Information Policy on two consultation submissions this month. Concerning the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (link to PDF), we proposed a series of controls based on international best practice that could give Britain a regulatory regime fit for purpose. On Intercept Modernisation (link to PDF), we firmly reject the claim that the security services' ability to collect intelligence and evidence is under threat. We also reject the assumption that a large IT project could be a helpful solution to such an ill-defined problem. Further, the use of deep packet inspection by a democracy would cause severe legal and political difficulties, without providing much - if any - benefit.

  • Media Makers meeting: 26 September
  • The UK Podcasters Assocation (UKPA) was founded in 2006 to protect podcasters’ rights and promote the culture of online media. It has been closely allied with ORG’s past campaigns for online media makers. As the shape and scale of online media has evolved, causing dramatic changes in how people create and consume media, the UKPA’s chairman and trustees - considering that there is greater strength in numbers - have decided that savvy podcasters and media makers should join forces with ORG. We now ask podcast producers and media makers to take the lead in a new Media Makers Group, which will be driven by supporters’ creative energies. Please join us for a meeting in September to work on these changes, and in particular plan for a new digital rights zine.

  • Advisory Council appointments
  • We've recruited eight new thinkers and doers to the Advisory Council, with a particular emphasis on campaigning and political nouse as well as copyright expertise. You can expect a public announcement about these exciting appointments towards the end of August.
Press

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

  • New York Times - 'BT Decides Not to Adopt Internet-Based Ad System'
  • Phorm system was never popular with users so once website operators and regulators were opposed to the system, we didn't have to wait long before ISPs announced they would not implement Webwise.

  • ComputerWorld - 'TalkTalk follows BT and dumps Phorm'
  • TalkTalk were next to distance themselves from the least popular firm on the internet. Although we've not linked the story, Virgin were next in line. ORG chalked this up as a major victory for privacy campaigners.

  • Guardian - 'Our surfing is our business'
  • Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, boils down the case against Phorm.

  • ZDNet - 'Karoo changes file-sharer disconnection policies'
  • Hull became the latest front in the war between entertainment monopolists and netizens as it emerged Karoo would disconnect customers suspected of copyright infringement, without even the pretence of due process. But in record time - after ORG led calls for change - the firm softened their stance by introducing a series of warnings.

  • Telegraph - '118800: Has the privacy backlash already begun?'
  • Basheera Khan knocks lumps out of 118800, who caused the latest row over the 'ethics of consent' by cobbling together and publishing a mobile phone directory. ORG are on the record as saying the rising tide of privacy concerns will damage companies connected to this 'worst kind of weasel behaviour'.

[Read more]


June 30, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - June 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Filesharing to be throttled in digital Britain - - Do your MEPs agree with ORG? - - Calling all recruiters - - ORGzine needs you! - - Press -

News

  • Filesharing will be throttled in digital Britain
  • ISPs will block, filter and otherwise throttle net access unless anti-piracy letter writing campaigns reduce the incidence of illicit filesharing. ORG is brewing up a campaign to show that this would restrict innovation and competition as well as (further) undermine copyright's reputation. To kick things off, we're meeting the relevant ministers and officials to push the digital rights perspective, and recently appeared on Radio 5 and the BBC News channel. Please do your bit by writing to your MP to remind them that it is our human right to have a legal process before being found guilty and punished.

  • Do your MEPs agree with ORG?
  • The Open Rights Group questionnaire to all candidates in this month's elections to the European parliament lives on as a record of your MEPs' views on digital rights. Its not quite complete so we'll soon contact the sitting MEPs who have not responded to get their views on data protection, copyright reform and our other concerns. And if there's no reply yet from any of your MEPs, please follow the instructions to chase up an answer. Thanks to Harry Metcalfe for making this happen.

  • Calling all recruiters
  • We're planning a supporter drive to run this September. For it to work, and for our campaign successes to continue, we'll need a lot of help. Following the success in 2008 of our ORG-GRO campaign, we need you to be our street team by convincing your mates and colleagues that digital rights matter and joining Open Rights is the best way to protect and extend their rights online. To help you we'll post out a recruiter pack to any of our existing supporters who offer to recruit a single person. Send a blank email with 'recruiter' in the subject line to supporters at openrightsgroup dot org if you're up for it.

  • ORGzine needs you!
  • If you've got something to say about digital rights - any issue, any place - then get involved with the ORGzine (name TBC!). We're starting this up to use the creative energy of our volunteer community to raise awareness of digital rights. It will basically work as a multi-user blog - including rich content too - coordinated by a volunteer editorial board. We'll include articles by and interviews with influential voices in these debates, with the bulk of the output coming from the supporter community. So, if you have something to say about digital rights, drop a blank mail with 'zine' in the subject line to supporters at openrightsgroup dot org. Give us some idea about what you'd like to do (graphics, video, audio, photos, blogs, interviews, cartoons etc) and point us to examples of what you've done elsewhere.

Press

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

  • Financial Times - 'Amateurs race professionals to uncover great truths from little details'
  • As newspapers and consumer organisations turn to crowdsourcing to analyse Parliament's expenses claims, ORG is very pleased to say that, "having constituents looking through their MP's expense records is going to make them think long and hard about how they spend our money."

  • BBC - 'Music industry 'missed' Napster'
  • Commenting on the the revelation that the music industry has been slow to use the net to promote and sell records, ORG said, "It's great that the BPI are willing to apologise [...] but they are busy [...] 'clamping down' on illicit P2P. By trying to get the government to clamp down on users, they risk alienating music's greatest fans, and bringing copyright into disrepute."

  • ITPro - 'ID card scheme to be scrapped by Conservatives'
  • Contractors bidding for the ID card scheme have been warned that the Conservatives, if they win the next general election, will not complete the work. ORG notes that, "there's a difference between commercial needs and trying to subvert the ability of a future government to make it own decisions."

    V3.co.uk - 'MEP election campaigns ignore online policy issues' Our pre-election survey of MEP candidates pointed out that regulation of online access and data protection typically flows from Brussels rather than national governments. More generally, it raised awareness that voters need to know they are electing people with power to make these decisions, and that candidates do not place enough emphasis on digital rights issues.

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May 29, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - May 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Do your MEP candidates care about your digital rights? - - Advisory Council nominations - - All-Seeing Eye video - - Volunteer meeting: Stalls workshop - - Consultations: APComms and INSPIRE - - Press -

News

  • Do your MEP candidates care about your digital rights?
  • Does your privacy, fair copyright, data retention and keeping the internet open matter to your MEP candidates? We’ve asked the main candidates what they think about four issues ORG campaigns on. You can see how the parties have done – both how many have responded, and what they have said. You can then judge for yourself who deserves your vote. You can also help by asking candidates who haven’t responded to give us an answer, which we will then display on the website. All the candidate details are publicly available from party or campaign websites, and where we have found them, we have also added these to our site. If you do contact a candidate, please remember to be polite and helpful.

  • Advisory Council nominations
  • We are looking for nominations to our Advisory Council. Appointments are for two years, and involve a quarterly meeting, and regular email advice and discussions on ORG policies. We are particularly seeking expertise in copyright. Individuals with very good knowledge of a major UK political party would also be useful, as would experienced campaigners. Individuals with expertise in other areas of concern to ORG, including digital regulation, privacy and open knowledge would also be welcome. Nominations need not include the agreement of the individual concerned, as we will approach them after reviewing nominations. Please send suggestions to advisory at openrightsgroup dot org by the end of 30 June 2009. Nominations will be reviewed by the Advisory Council and approved by the Board of Directors.

  • All-Seeing Eye video
  • May kicked off with a talk by Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross. The speakers covered a lot of ground, from how to protect your privacy online to the future battlegrounds for digital rights activists. The event video is now available in .ogg and .mov. If you have suggestions for speakers or topics for future events, hit reply and let us know. Thanks a lot to David, Gavin, Felix, Glyn, Sheila, Annie and Harry for helping on the night.

  • Volunteer meeting: Stalls workshop
  • Stalls at tech and related conferences help spread the word on digital rights. Glyn will be helping us run a workshop the evening of Thursday 18 June for volunteers interested to support ORG by representing digital rights at a conference. If you are interested to help then please indicate on the wiki or by reply that you plan to come along.

  • Consultations: APComms and INSPIRE
  • We produced two consultation submissions this month. The All Party Parliamentary Communications Group has asked 'Can we keep our hands off the net' with an investigation into the role for Government over Internet traffic. Our submission (link to PDF) discussed a number of issues, from 'bad traffic' to behavioural advertising and network discrimination. Our INSPIRE submission (link to PDF), produced in colloration with Open Knowledge Foundation, argued for - amongst other things - reduced constraints on re-use of Public Sector Information, allowing for open competition in added-value services.

Press Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

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April 30, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - April 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Statebook: a place to access your citizens information - - Phorm is in deep trouble - - Parliament buckles: copyright extension goes through - - Reclaim your DNA from Britain's National DNA database - - Press - - Thanks -

News

  • Statebook: a place to access your citizens information
  • This month we launched a campaign site portraying the seemingly unregulated amassing of personal data by the state. Called Statebook, it is a spoof government site, listing all the information government holds an an individual citizen, based on the Database State report. The site also shows what new information the Government want to collect, through new schemes, like the Intercept Modernisation Programme. It also gives you an easy way to email your MP with a customisable letter about the government’s plans. Tell your friends about http://statebook.co.uk/ on Twitter, Facebook, or just by email. And this action page details what you can do to push back against snooping.

  • Phorm is in deep trouble
  • On top of major websites, including Amazona and Wikipedia, deciding to protect their customers and brands by blocking the Webwise system, Phorm is gripped by a new controversy. It seems the the Home Office worked with Phorm to offer advice that would give "comfort" to their investors. In reply, the firm has launched a bizarre smear website against campaigners including ORG, which may be the idea of their new PR agent Patrick Robertson, whose previous clients include Jonathan Aitken and General Pinochet. Phorm are clearly on the ropes and getting desperate so please help the final push by asking your favourite websites to block Phorm.

  • Parliament buckles: copyright extension goes through
  • Despite widespread dissent and controversy MEPs have voted for copyright term extension. The proposal now moves to the Council of Ministers, where it is currently blocked by various member states. Thanks to the many of you have written to your MEPs. We'll update again with further actions in support of sound copyright but remind you for now that the European elections in June will be an opportunity to express discontent.

  • Reclaim your DNA from Britain's National DNA database
  • Have you or your child been arrested and had your DNA and fingerprints taken by the police? If so, you will probably have a computer record on Britain’s National DNA Database. If you are concerned about how the Government might misuse this information, or fail to keep it safe, use the new Reclaim Your DNA website to help get your computer records deleted and your DNA destroyed.

Press relations Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. We were featured on Newsnight, BBC World Service, BBC News Channel and Sky (no longer available online) in the Pirate Bay Debate.

  • Music Week - 'Open Rights slams copyright'
  • A survey carried out by an international network of consumer groups indicates that the UK's copyright laws are the worst, "by far". ORG commented, "It is ridiculous to ban copying, sampling and parody without payment, yet that is how the law stands today. The Government is undermining copyright's reputation by failing to give clear rights to users in a changed digital world, where we all rip, mix and burn."
  • The Inquirer - 'Online campaigners launch Statebook'
  • Sylvie Barak reports on ORG's "more-disturbing-than-funny" Facebook spoof, which highlights digital privacy and government data mining infringing on UK citizens' rights. ORG commented that we're "tapping into a strong and growing public unease about digital privacy" and said that government data retention (or more frequently, careless government data leakage) was a sign that things were "going in the wrong direction".
  • Ars technica: EU Open Internet
  • 'Activists rally troops against proposed EU 'Net regulations' - Decent reportage from John Trimmer on the hard-to-follow Telecoms Package, suggesting that member states are on a 'collision course' with the European Parliament. No direct quote from us but highlights the letter-writing campaign that ORG is coordinating at http://www.blackouteurope.eu/.

  • Guardian - 'Phorm: Does its stroppy campaign site signal the beginning of the end?'
  • Jemima Kiss praises Phorm for trying to engage with public concern about its ad-targeting service, but says the StopPhoulPlay website is incredibly unprofessional and "feels to me like a sign that Phorm is dying, and this is one of its final throes".

Thanks

Thanks to all the lovely people that make ORG work, but particularly this month Adam and Lemon, our tireless sys-admins.

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March 31, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - March 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Blackout Europe - - Block Phorm - - Stop Guv Monitoring Facebook - - Doctorow and Stross: Resisting the all-seeing eye - - Sound Copyright - - Press - - Events - - Thanks -

But before we get started, if you're on Facebook, please become a fan of Open Rights Group.

News

  • Blackout Europe
  • Proposals at the EU parliament to limit access to the internet across Europe are to be voted on today. The new law would permit your broadband provider to impose "conditions limiting access to and/or use of services and applications". Downloading via P2P will likely be forbidden, plus blacklists and whitelists are on the hidden agenda, but the proposals also covers copyright enforcement (3-strikes) and network-level filtering. They threaten fundamental freedoms for all Internet users. Please use contact your MEP, use our images on your profiles and if you're on Facebook, join the dedicated group. Once we know the results of today's committee vote, we'll produce more detailed commentary and recommendations.

  • Block Phorm
  • We've asked major websites to block Phorm from intercepting their data. To help us pile on the pressure, please take some action. If you’re on Facebook, join the group; blog and tweet the #blockphorm message; Opt your website out - and let us know that you've done so by mailing blockphorm at openrightsgroup dot org; email your favourite sites, FAO Chief Privacy Officer, using our standard letter.

  • Stop Guv Monitoring Facebook
  • Guv wants legislation that lets them monitor who you talk to on Facebook. Similar legislation in the US has been abused by the authorities time and time again, with websites revealing not just who users are messaging, but the contents of the messages. The authorities are going beyond the designated purpose of terrorism prevention, and instead use it to routinely screen job candidates for even the lowest risk government and local authority jobs. The proposal is part of the 'Intercept Modernisation Program'. Please sign the petition and, if you're on Facebook, join the dedicated group.

  • Doctorow and Stross: Resisting the all-seeing eye
  • With the rise of the database state and firms profiting from user-profiling, it's vital to resist surveillance and ensure the integrity of your digital personality. From technologies like PGP and Tor to the arguments that will convince people - friends and family as well as media and politicians - to watch out for their digital rights, this event is your anti-surveillance 101. Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross will share the how and why of controlling your data, moderated by Ian Brown. More details and signup on Eventbrite.

  • Sound Copyright
  • Following postponement of the full plenary vote, representatives from the European Parliament, Commission and Council will meet this week to hammer out a consensus amid the controversy surrounding copyright term extension. We've prepared some super-simple info to help you act now to oppose copyright extension, so please write or phone your MEP and use our buttons on your blog or site homepage.

Press relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details. We also did a couple of local radio spots this month, over plans for Guv to snoop on your social networking, but those aren't archived for your reading pleasure.

  • BBC - 'Big websites urged to avoid Phorm '
  • ORG has sent open letters to the chief privacy officers at Microsoft, Google/Youtube, Facebook, AOL/Bebo, Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay requesting they protect user privacy - and their own brands - by opting out of the Webwise system. The letter is also intended to highlight that the system intercepts data posted to social network services.

  • The Register - 'Facebook encourages ISP customer protests over Phorm'
  • Facebook's privacy chief urges "customers of BT, Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media who are unhappy about their ISP's plans to work with Phorm in monitoring and profiling web use to 'make their feelings known'".

  • paidContent:UK - 'EC’s 95-Year Copyright Plan Blocked, Artists Want Bigger Share Of Digital'
  • It seems that Guv is backing-off the 95-year extension of copyright term for sound recordings but will support a 70-year deal that gives artists a bigger share of digital download revenue. Open Rights Group remains opposed to any such extension.

  • ZDNet - 'Rights group attacks 'database state''
  • Commenting on the release of the Database State report, ORG said "Public sector databases are a disgrace. The most threatening examples, including ContactPoint, the DNA database, the National Identity Register and some of the major NHS systems, are incompatible with our human rights and should be scrapped immediately."

Events The very best way to stay updated on ORG-esque events is with our Upcoming group. Here's some events happening in the next month or so:

  • Infosecurity Europe 2009: "[W]here information security professionals address the challenges of today whilst preparing for those of tomorrow at the No.1 industry event in Europe." London, 28-30 April
  • Futuresonic: "[A]n international festival now in its 13th year occupying the orbits of both digital culture and music." Manchester, 13-16 May.
  • Thinking Digital: "[A]nnual conference where the world's greatest thinkers and innovators gather to inspire, to entertain, and to discuss the latest ideas and technologies." Newcastle, 13-15 May

Thanks

Thanks to Tim, Chris, Rowan and Adam for the still-not-quite-public Reclaim Your DNA site. Thanks to Francis for taking on org-law. Thanks to Harry and Sian for the wireframes session. Thanks to Dominique for the comms work. Thanks to Glyn, Lemon and Adam for being around. Thanks to the Board and Advisory for their ongoing nourishment. Thanks to anyone missed off this list.

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February 27, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter Update - February 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Sign up for monthly calls to action - - The Convention on Modern Liberty - - Sound Copyright: Government abandons evidence-based policy on copyright - - Volunteering for ORG - - Press - - Events -

News

  • Sign up for monthly calls to action
  • We want you all to sign up to our new ORG-Action list, which we'll use to coordinate more grassroots activism in support of digital rights. Roughly once or twice a month, we'll ask you to help with a simple, targetted action, like signing a petition, or contacting an MP to win their support. The actions will help us make greater public and political impact, but should also be fun for you. You'll receive an invite to join the list about the same time as this email. Sign up now and get ready for some action.

  • The Convention on Modern Liberty
  • Modern Liberty, on Saturday 28 February 2009, hopes to bring as many people together to see what common ground can be reached in defence of our freedoms. See the website for useful materials and a live webcast of the London events. ORG is hosting a panel session to discuss privacy in an age where the companies we as consumers choose to do business with online (as well as some we don’t) know more about us than ever before.

  • Sound Copyright: Government abandons evidence-based policy on copyright
  • ORG is still busy telling MEPs in Europe and the UK that the evidence is against this copyright extension but with a plenary vote set for late March the EU will force-feed it to us all anyway unless you make some noise. We urge you to again write to your MEPs and share the video of Becky Hogge speaking against the "fairy tale" of copyright term extension. Also, academics have voiced concern that the UK looks to be changing its mind.

  • Volunteering for ORG
  • One of our main organisational aims is fostering a community of digital rights activists and we now have close to 100 regular volunteer contributors, with many more on the fringes. If you want to get more involved then please find a job that suits your skills on our public list of tasks or come along to our next volunteer meeting. Please note there’s a dedicated volunteer mailing list and Facebook group.

Press relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

  • BBC - 'Warning over 'surveillance state'
  • The House of Lords constitution committee warn that increased state and private sector surveillance threatens the right to privacy, which is "an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom". ORG urged the government to "reassert" its control over the use of data, and introduce "privacy by design ... built into systems right at the start."
  • Ars Technica - 'Phorm: damn the EU, full speed ahead!'
  • The EU intends to take legal action against the UK Government unless it properly investigates the secret trials, conducted in conjunction with BT, of Phorm's targeted advertising technology. ORG argues the system, which seeks consent from the user but not from the websites they use, may be in breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the law governing interception of communications in the UK.

  • Telegraph - 'The evidence is against a copyright extension on music, but the EU will force-feed it to us anyway'
  • As the proposal to extend sound copyright makes progress through the "EU legislative sausage making machine", ORG argues it will harm the economy and innovation, calling for Government to listen to academic evidence rather than the hyperbole of vested interests.
Events The very best way to stay updated on ORG-esque events is with our Upcoming group. Here's some particularly exciting events happening in the next month or so:
  • Rewired State: National Hack The Government Day - "Calling all people who make things. We're going to show them [,Gov,] how it's done." London 7 March
  • The Public Domain: enclosing the commons of the mind - "Is the public domain as vital to knowledge, innovation and culture as the realm of material protected by intellectual property rights? James Boyle thinks so and visits the RSA to call for a new movement to preserve it. If we continue to enclose the “commons of the mind”, Boyle argues, we will all be the poorer." London, 10 March
  • Maker Faire UK - "The first UK Maker Faire will take place in Newcastle 14-15 March 2009 as part of Newcastle ScienceFest - a 10 day festival celebrating creativity and innovation."

[Read more]


January 30, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - January 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Jim Killock is our new Executive Director - - Sound Copyright builds opposition to term extension - - Student elections briefing pack - - Volunteering for ORG - - Press - - Events - - Thanks -

News

 

  • Jim Killock is our new Executive Director

 

We have recruited an excellent successor to replace Becky Hogge as Executive Director of the Open Rights Group. Jim Killock started working with the staff and volunteers at the beginning of January and is already building up our policy positions and profile as well as our supporter and other information systems. We wish Jim the very best of luck and also to Becky for her future projects. To get a sense of Jim's initial plans, please have a read of his inaurgural post and interview.

 

  • Sound Copyright builds opposition to term extension

 

As we approach key votes on the term extension directive, ORG is generating significant public opposition to this scandalous proposal. This month we co-hosted a conference for MEPs and activists at the European Parliament and co-ordinated representatives of consumers, citizens and libraries around the world to condemn the proposal. In addition, our new animation explains how the proposal actually works and who really stands to benefit: copyright extension will not ensure recording artists earnings but instead subsidise major labels' ailing business models. We'll have a video of the conference up shortly and more actions to get you involved in the campaign.

 

  • Student elections briefing pack

 

ORG believes that if an election claims to be anonymous and democratic, then it actually should be. Our latest elections publication (link to PDF) presents some of the technical and practical issues associated with online voting, with a specific focus on Students Unions (SUs) in the UK. It is clear that there are many ways in which online voting significantly increases the risk of error, fraud and voter coercion. Online voting may not, as is often intended, increase student engagement with SUs and boost voter turnout. Please circulate the link to your student friends, particularly if involved with SUs.

 

  • Volunteering for ORG

 

One of our main organisational aims is fostering a community of digital rights activists and we now have close to 100 regular volunteer contributors, with many more on the fringes. If you want to get more involved then please find a job that suits your skills on our public list of tasks or come along to our next volunteer meeting. Please note there’s a dedicated volunteer mailing list and Facebook group. Press relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

  • ZeroPaid - 'Exclusive: ZeroPaid Interviews Open Rights Group'
  • In his first interview for ORG, Jim Killock talked to Drew Wilson about his vision to bridge the gap between technology users and the authorities who regulate information systems. Jim also went into some detail on recent developments for our priority campaigns and how we're building capacity to get more people involved with our actions.

 

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) wants Government intervention to protect their businesses from changes in the way we consume music. ORG argues instead that, "Growing online sales show the recording industry can win against illicit file sharing," and that retailers stand to earn greater revenues and reduce copyright infringement if they offer a user-experience similar to P2P.

 

 

David Cronin reports from the European Parliament, where MEPs joined ORG to reject the term extension directive. The fairy story of the poor performer about to lose his main source of income doesn't stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny. It is instead the four major record labels who will benefit from this law, at the expense of consumers and smaller record labels.

 

 

MarkJ rounds up some responses to the consultation on p2p filesharing, highlighting disagreement over the regulation of online content distribution. The ORG recommendation quoted, although not our main contention - that the marketplace should be left to resolve the issue, is for legal sanctions against those who falsely accuse individuals of filesharing. Events The very best way to stay updated on ORG-esque events is with our Upcoming group. Here's some particularly exciting events happening in the next month or so:

 

  • Modern Liberty is a call to all concerned with the threats to our fundamental rights and freedoms, from our own State, from terrorism and the responses to terrorism and from the gathering financial crisis. Nationwide, 28 February.

 

  • BarcampUKGovweb09 is an event for those working in and around, or simply interested in, UK government online. It is an opportunity for people with a wide variety of skills, experiences and perspectives to share their knowledge and get to know each other. London, 31 January.

 

 

  • Glitch is a "30 minute black comedy performance set in an imaginary near future. A lone woman traveller finds herself trapped in a holding cell during an automated security check. Rather than succumb to the totalitarian surveillance, she attempts to outwit the machine and make a bid for freedom - hopefully in one piece..." Created and performed by actress Lois Tucker. London, various dates in February.

 

Meet the volunteers

Adam Giles has volunteered for us from the early days and has developed, amongst other online tools, our Facebook page. Adam is also one of our most generous funders. Here's his take on the importance of ORG and digital rights:

"For me, digital rights come next. We've sorted human rights and civil & political rights, and while we still need to remain vigilant against any breaches of these existing rights, it's digital rights that will form the basis of how we move forward in the coming centuries. The laws that codify these rights are being debated and written right now, usually by politicians who need help understanding the real issues at stake. If we are to avoid bad laws in turn leading to the erosion of our rights, purely because they take place in a digital medium, then organisations like the Open Rights Group are essential. This is why I was founder #412 and continue to give them my full support."

Thanks

Although many people contributed to Open Rights Group this month, it feels right to dedicate this section, normally used for acknowledging volunteer efforts, to our outgoing Executive Director, Becky Hogge. Rather than gush on about her exceptional clarity of thought and speech, forthright manner and good sense in all things (particularly recruitment, garments and baked goods), its enough to say a simple thanks and that she will be dearly missed.

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January 02, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - December 2008

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Who's been losing your data? - - Fudging the copyright agenda - - IWF vs Wikipedia - - ORG wins 1st award - - Volunteering for ORG - - Press - - Events - - Mini Links - - Thanks -

News

  • Who's been losing your data?
  • You hand over your personal details to councils, hospitals, employers and businesses all the time. But these institutions don't always keep that data safe. In fact, since HMRC lost its entire database of child benefit claimants last year, high profile data losses have hit the headlines with worrying regularity. But how does this affect you and your family? Use our questionnaire (click here) to find out how likely it is that a Government department or corporate entity has been losing your data recently. Please also spread the link.

  • Fudging the copyright agenda
  • While we waited patiently for improvements to copyright's flexibility, such as exceptions for transformative works and decent legal alternatives to illicit file-sharing, it seems Government lost focus. Andy Burnham is now dropping hints at a U-turn on the UK's policy against term extension and David Lammy launched yet another review of the copyright agenda. ORG will dutifully respond to the consultation and - as usual - requests your (evidence-based) contributions. Meanwhile, we've submitted a series of Freedom of Information requests to reveal just why Government has disregarded the digital-friendly elements of Gowers.

  • Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) vs Wikipedia
  • The IWF-imposed block of an image hosted by Wikipedia and subsequent volte-face caused something of a constitutional crisis on the interwebs. ORG was there to tell netizens' side of the story, and after the fuss died down, we made three initial recommendations to open the lid on how UK ISPs censor the web.

  • ORG wins 1st award
  • ORG was honoured alongside No2ID, Liberty, Genewatch and others at this year's UK Big Brother Awards. The awards are organised by Privacy International and recognise the efforts of campaigners to keep state and corporate mass surveillance at bay. New Labour were also mentioned at the awards, although for their dishonourable activities in support of snooping and control. This is our first award and feels pretty special.

  • Volunteering for ORG
  • One of our main organisational aims is fostering a community of digital rights activists and we now have close to 100 regular volunteer contributors. If you want to get more involved then please find a job that suits your skills on our public list of tasks or come along to our next volunteer meeting. Please note there's a dedicated volunteer mailing list and Facebook group.

Press relations Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

  • The Metro - 'Net nannies break Wikipedia in album cover kerfuffle'
  • Tom Phillips points out systemic failings in the IWF's censorship process, as shown by their mistreatment of an image hosted by Wikipedia, which had the unintended and widely reviled consequence of blocking most UK users' write access to the site. ORG commented that the trend for ISP-level content blocking, now mooted in relation to copyright enforcement, encourages clumsy content regulation.

  • Heise Online - 'IWF blocking policy questioned by Open Rights Group'
  • Terry Relph-Knight reports some of our recommendations to the IWF, which were blogged together with recognition of their usually high standards and the job's inherent difficulties. We recommend users be properly informed - by seeing a 403 ("access forbidden") rather than a 404 ("file-not-found") error message - that their request is blocked. We also recommend improved transparency and accountability by greater efforts to notify website operators that a block is in place and, finally, some form of judicial oversight.

    The 'IWF vs Wikipedia' story also saw us mentioned this month in The Guardian and Channel 4 News.

  • Ars Technica - 'UK consumers, Big Content battle over three-strikes rules'
  • Nate Anderson juxtaposes two responses to the Guv consultation on infringing uses of p2p networks. UK Music deride the weight of academic evidence and commend the introduction of extreme sanctions. ORG, conversely, argues that the record industry must do more to entice consumers away from illegal services, rather than basing their business model on threats and extortion.

  • BBC - Directors demand film piracy ban
  • Film directors, haunted by the piracy bogeyman, demand protection from illegal online file-sharing of film and TV content for their industry. ORG repeated our view that, while we don't condone illicit file sharing, the creative industries need to make their wares available in ways that appeal to the public's wallets.
Events The very best way to stay updated on ORG-esque events is with our Upcoming group. Here's some particularly exciting events happening in the next month or so:
  • Convention on Modern Liberty
  • "A call to all concerned with attacks on our fundamental rights and freedoms under pressure from counter-terrorism, financial breakdown and the database state." ORG will be hosting a panel on behavioral advertising. Nationwide, Sunday 28 February 2009

  • Rewired State's National Hack the Government Day
  • "We're going to show them how it's done. If you can make things, and think you can do better than government...". London, Data TBC

  • LugRadio Live UK 2009
  • No details as such but a date for your diaries. Wolverhampton, July 18 - 19 2009
Thanks

Biggest thanks to Sam, Glyn, Rowan and Casey for producing the data loss questionnaire. Thanks also to Sheila for her continued work on the website redesign. Thanks to Chris and Rowan for starting work on an exciting new microsite. Thanks to the Board and Advisory for all their doings.

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