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!
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
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 partytold 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 we’ve 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
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
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!
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
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