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Supporter Newsletter


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.

[Read more]


November 28, 2008 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - November 2008

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

- 2008 Review of Activities - - Bad to worse: EU rushes through term extension - - ORG Xmas Party - - Volunteer works - - Press - - Events - - Thanks -

News

  • 2008 Review of Activities
  • This month we celebrated our birthday by publishing the 2008 ORG Review of Activities, which is available in both PDF (click here) and HTML (click here) form. We hope you are pleased with everything ORG has done in our third year of campaigning for the UK's digital rights. As ever, we ask that you tell others about our works and encourage more people to donate to Open Rights Group in order to further oppose abuses of our rights online and the real threats to our information society.

  • Bad to worse: EU rushes through term extension
  • Your MEPs are preparing to amend the proposed term extension Directive to further nullify the public benefit in copyright. ORG travelled to Brussels earlier in the month for two days of meetings with the relevant MEPs. A coalition of academic experts have also continued to oppose the draft Directive. It is critical that you write to your MEPs today to oppose the Directive in its entirety. Please see our main (click here) and Sound Copyright (click here) blogs for greater detail.

  • ORG Xmas Party
  • Update: We've had to take the tough decision to call it off, because the low uptake from both sponsors and guests means that if we went ahead, ORG would be at risk of making a significant financial loss.

    We do however have two alternative nights out for you. Hopefully you'll be able to make at least one of them, so we can celebrate the festive season together and look forward to a fab year ahead for ORG.

    First, ORG is a co-host for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Community Christmas Party, which you are all cordially invited to. It will be at The 'Quad Bar' of the London School of Economics' "Three Tuns Pub", Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE on Thursday 11 December from 1800 to 2300. RSVP to gus at privacy dot org.

    Second, the ORG staff will be delighted to meet supporters who are still up for an Xmas drink on Saturday 20 December from 1930 at our local, which is The Duke - http://www.dukepub.co.uk/ - 7 Roger Street, London, WC1N 2PB. Mail supporters at openrightsgroup dot org if you're coming so we can me sure there's enough space.

    Your 2008 Xmas party is shaping up nicely and tickets are moving fast. We've got a proper London pub and can promise a rousing evening, including Copyfighters (with some extra special guests), a raffle, werewolf and - fingers crossed - a free drink or two. It will be both a festive celebration plus your chance to buy our outgoing Executive Director a drink and - toes crossed - meet Becky's replacement. Sign up now for your tickets (click here) to avoid disappoinment! If you have suggestions for more party games then get in touch.

  • Volunteer works
  • One of our main organisational aims is developing a community of activists and ORG now has close to 100 regular volunteer contributors. If you want to get more involved with digital rights and Open Rights then please find a job that suits your skills on our public list of tasks (click here) and join in at our next volunteer meeting (click here). Please note there's a dedicated volunteer mailing list (hit reply if you want to get involved that way) and Facebook group (click here). This month's meeting - minuted here (click here) - was a whole heap of usefulness although its looking like we may need a bigger room in future.

Press relations

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

  • BBC - 'Musicians urge copyright change'
  • The clamour to extend copyright on sound recordings is, following our specific intervention, contrasted with ORG's concern that the measure will benefit record companies but not musicians and the Government's view that the proposal won't achieve the stated aim of benefiting performing artists.

  • Telecom TV - ''3 Strikes' could be back for a second innings warn rights groups'
  • Ian Scales reports on the progress of the Telecoms Package, which seems to give European governments a green light to proceed with 3 strikes laws. He refers to a report by Lilian Edwards (ORG Advisory Councillor) and Simon Bradshaw, which emphasises that this crucial set of obligations should be properly debated in the open rather than in deliberately stealthy conditions.

  • MacUser - 'ORG: file sharing talks have "locked out" consumers'
  • Simon Aughton's dispatch on the introduction of further penalties for illegally sharing copyright materials mentions our view that the regulatory authorities disregard "the benefits of an open internet to society and the economy" and seem "unable to engage in evidence-based policy-making in this space."

  • The Stage - 'November 13: Lenny Henry, Denis Lawson and the Devil's Whore'
  • Scott Matthewman blogs Kay Smith's article on the term extension proposals, which recognises our "fierce" campaigning on the issue and also that independent experts do not support increasing the protection for sound recordings from 50 to 95 years.

Events

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

  • Barcamp Liverpool - entrepreneurs, technologists, programmers, developers, designers, bloggers, social media types, gamers, and artists are invited to this unconference for two days of unadulterated geeky fun. Liverpool, 6 - 7 December 2008.
  • Privacy and civil liberties community Christmas party - take refuge from these cold and harsh times at the "Quad Bar" of the London School of Economics' "Three Tuns Pub", Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE on 11 December from 1800. Cash bar. RSVP gus@privacy.org
  • Chaos Communication Congress - Nothing to Hide is the 25th annual four-day conference organized by the Chaos Computer Club. Berlin, 27 - 30 December.

Thanks Thanks to Chris, Mark, David, Glyn, Sheila, Mark, Martin, James, Richard, Matt, Adam, Richard and Tim for attending the volunteer meeting. Thanks to Chris, Chris (again) and Adam for the F1000 badgr project. Thanks to Martin, Pekka, Stanley, Ben and Eileen for supporting ORG in Brussels. Thanks to Casbon, Jonty, Chris (again) and Matt for working on the db. Thanks to Lemon and Adam for generally running things. Thanks to Adam for the new Facebook page. Thanks to the Board and Advisory, particularly the kindly folk who've been conducting interviews for new Directors.

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October 31, 2008 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - October 2008

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

- Recruiting the next Executive Director - - Piracy vs Obscurity - - Freedom Not Fear - - Sound Copyright - - Consultations - - Volunteering - - Press - - Events - inc. date for ORG Xmas party - - Mini Links - - Thanks -

News

  • Recruiting the next Executive Director
  • After two great years as Executive Director of ORG, Becky Hogge will be moving on early in 2009. This means we're recruiting for the next Executive Director. The job advert and full job description are on the website. Please push the word about this vacancy out across your networks and particularly to any suitable candidates you may know. We're all immensely proud of the progress Becky has made both on specific copyright and surveillance campaigns, and more generally in building a financially sustainable basis for ORG. We wish her the very best for her future projects.

  • Piracy vs Obscurity with our patron, Neil Gaiman
  • In a spooky crypt in old London town, Neil Gaiman spoke to an audience of nearly 200 about piracy from the perspective of a creator, what it means to be one of the tribe of readers, and why most people discover their favourite authors for free. The talk was really well-received, as were the raffle prizes. Thanks to the ORG volunteers who made sure everyone had a grand evening. An audio recording of the event is available.

  • Freedom Not Fear: the Big Picture on Parliament Square
  • ORG teamed up with No2ID on a sunny Saturday in Parliament Square and constructed a 4x5m collage of the hundreds of photos of UK surveillance state ephemera you uploaded to Flickr. The huge, Big-Brother-inspired image expressed the concern that although we each see only incremental invasions of our privacy, put together, these creeping changes constitute a wholesale shift towards a society predicated on fear rather than freedom. If you want to use the image in your own projects, you can get it from the wiki.

  • Make sure MPs hear your views on copyright term extension: get in touch today
  • The European Parliament is preparing its opinion on the European Commission's flawed proposal to extend the term of copyright protection for sound recordings. Your MEPs need to know that their voters are concerned and paying attention so get in touch. To help you we've prepared a guide to lobbying your MEPs and a briefing pack. Lobbyists for term extension are already at work but your voice is stronger than any professional advocate. We can't overstate it: the best thing you can do to stop this is to let your MEPs hear your side. See the blog for extensive links to resources to help you protect the public domain.

  • Consultation submissions: Data Retention and illicit p2p
  • This month we've produced submissions to two government consultations on the Data Retention Directive and illicit p2p filesharing. We criticised the Data Retention Directive in relation to basic human rights and the uncertainty it introduces to UK law, suggesting we should follow Austria and other EU member states in refusing to implement it. Our p2p submission argues that it's music industry innovation that will slow illicit filesharing, and not legislative intervention.

  • Next volunteer meeting / ORG Day
  • If you want to get more involved with digital rights and ORG then your first stop should be a volunteer meeting, where we run through current volunteer works and dish out new tasks. We have close to 100 regular volunteer contributors. Please put your name up on the wiki if you intend to attend. The next meet will be at 1830 on Wednesday 19 November, at our office, which is 7th floor, 100 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8AL. As usual, we'll have the IRC and conference call running so that non-locals can participate. This volunteer meeting is timed to coincide with ORG Day, which now falls every year on 19 November to celebrate the formaton of Open Rights Group. Please come and get involved! If you're short on time then just come along to The Duke for a drink at around 2000.

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.

  • openDemocracy - 'Digital privacy wars'
  • Guy Aitchison discusses two approaches to Phorm's behavioural marketing techniques. For Peter Bazalgette, advertising is vital to expand the internet economy whilst privacy campaigners fail to see the importance of commerce. ORG responds to this criticism by showing why online commercial relationships need to be private too.

  • PC Pro - 'E-voting vetoed for 2009 election'
  • Stuart Turton reports on Michael Wills', minister of state for the Ministry of Justice, formal announcement that Government "does not plan to introduce e-voting for the 2009 European or local elections." ORG is pretty darn chuffed that our long-running campaign to highlight the risks with electronic elections is being taken seriously.

  • Macworld - 'UK slows down plan for sweeping electronic surveillance'
  • Jeremy Kirk covers Home Office plans for legislation to support a database of all communications data, which is being delayed to allow for proper public debate. ORG is pleased the issue will be consulted on because "creating this database would drastically alter the relationship between the citizen and the state, handing national security and law enforcement agencies immense power to invade the private lives of ordinary people."

  • The Guardian - 'Democracy needs spontaneity'
  • John Ozimek comments on our contribution to Freedom Not Fear, an international day of activities publicising the gradual drift towards surveillance socieites. Our involvement, for John anyway, was more of an arts event than a demonstration because the police required "reasonable notice". Democracy and the political process are seriously at risk when spontaneous assemblies and marches are outlawed.

Events

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

  • 'Onemedia Unconference '
  • Onemedia is a pioneering unconference where you set the agenda to find the cross industry business opportunities that matter to you, to increase your revenue and develop your business model. London, 13 and 14 November 2008.

  • ORG Xmas Party
  • The ORG Xmas Party will be on Saturday 20 December. The only guarantee at this advance stage is for yuletide jocularity. Reserve your ticket now and send in any suggestions for party games and related bagatelle.

    Update: We've had to take the tough decision to call it off, because the low uptake from both sponsors and guests means that if we went ahead, ORG would be at risk of making a significant financial loss.

    We do however have two alternative nights out for you. Hopefully you'll be able to make at least one of them, so we can celebrate the festive season together and look forward to a fab year ahead for ORG.

    First, ORG is a co-host for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Community Christmas Party, which you are all cordially invited to. It will be at The 'Quad Bar' of the London School of Economics' "Three Tuns Pub", Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE on Thursday 11 December from 1800 to 2300. RSVP to gus at privacy dot org.

    Second, the ORG staff will be delighted to meet supporters who are still up for an Xmas drink on Saturday 20 December from 1930 at our local, which is The Duke - http://www.dukepub.co.uk/ - 7 Roger Street, London, WC1N 2PB. Mail supporters at openrightsgroup dot org if you're coming so we can me sure there's enough space.

    Mini-links: Intercept Modernisation

Thanks

Thanks to Felix, Glyn, Sheila, Casey, James and Patricia for running the Gaiman event. Thanks to Sam, Rowan and Casey for putting together our "data debacles" tool. Thanks to Chris and Adam for working on ORG's facebook profile. Thanks to Adam for doing lots and lots and lots ... and lots. Thanks to Tom, Chris, James, Harry and the many others who worked on the Freedom Not Fear demo. Thanks to James for stuffing envelopes. Thanks to Matt N and Glyn for newsblogging. Thanks to Jonty, Chris, Casbon and Matt P for getting into the supporter database. Finally, thanks to the Board and Advisory and our hard working staff for all they do.

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