Supporter Newsletter

September 19, 2013 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter September 2013

This month's newsletter looks at new revelations from Snowden about attacks on Internet security, positive developments against online censorship, the UK Lobbying Bill, ORG's response to the Nominet consultation, and more.

To receive these updates straight to your inbox in newsletter form, sign up to the Open Rights Group mailing list which you can do so from our home page.

Undermining the fabric of the Internet

Burnt disused bank vault

Burnt Bank Vault, Adam Lederer, Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA

The revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden keep coming. The Guardian's reports of NSA and GCHQ attacks on fundamental Internet security really matter. It appears that the security agencies covertly insert vulnerabilities that weaken the security of technical systems for everyone, not just their targets. These are the basics of trust on the Internet; the reason you trust your bank not to leak your information to criminals, blackmailers or governments.

The vulnerabilities they've inserted will be abused by others. Thus the real impact will not just be on security, but also economics.

Whilst the NSA/GCHQ surveillance scandal remained mere 'national security', the UK could tell the European Commission to back off.

But the economic consequences could help us get the EU to investigate. It affects millions of European citizens, and we will push hard to get the EU to acknowledge this.

We need your views! 

Can you give just a few minutes to ORG and provide us with some feedback on our work?

Take our survey now!

ORG are going through a period of evaluation and strategy to shape our direction for the coming years. As an engaged activist we want to hear your opinions on our work. Do you think there should be more local meetings, subject briefings or staff updates? Let us know what you would like to see from ORG!

No tax on websites

Nominet, the UK domain registry, are consulting the public on their proposal to allow people to register domains with just '.uk' suffixes.

ORG have responded to say that we see no benefits in these plans, for those Nominet should be serving: website owners and users. It adds yet another cost to website owners, yet another domain name to purchase.

The only benefits we can see are for Nominet and registrars: they will get more  income. This cannot be a justification for what amounts to a new tax on website owners. We have therefore once again urged Nominet to drop these plans. You can also reaspond on the Nominet website, so head over there to have your say!

Real action on Internet filters

When the Government proposed default internet filtering we insisted that civil society be involved in the discussions of any kind of censorship. Instead, when the Secretary of State Maria Miller met with Internet Service Providers without us the discussions were dominated by Claire Perry MP, who said that over blocking problems are 'a load of cock'.

As the Government has failed to look at the difficult issues we sent 20 questions to ISPs about how their Internet filtering will work. We have been promised answers and will be meeting with the ISPs shortly.

Last week we met with Ed Vaizey MP to discuss these questions. At the meeting he mentioned that he wanted to make sure error correction is dealt, and he also raised this at the Internet Governance Forum. Dealing with mistaken blocking under these plans will not be easy.

Lib Dems reject Censorship

At their party conference in Glasgow at the weekend, Liberal Democrat party members voted to reject the policy of default-on Internet filters. The pressure we've been putting on, the consistent voice calling for freedom of expression has paid off.

Thank you for signing the petition and telling MPs that we won't let censorship slide in this way. Please keep helping us spread the word and ask your friends to sign!

Lobbying Bill: a threat to campaigning

ORG joined many organisations working for greater government transparency and openness in the UK and around the world in an open letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister about the UK’s proposed Lobbying Bill.

The Lobbying Bill is a serious threat to campaigners and charities, chilling campaigning work.

It also fails to do the very thing it set out to do: ensuring that UK lobbying is transparent and regulated. Our letter called for the Government to redraft the Bill in a way that would give citizens the genuine opportunity to scrutinise lobbying.

Coders! Join the Censorship Monitoring Project

ORG are already fighting the existing default censorship on mobile phone networks. We run, a project which allows you to report when a site has been incorrectly blocked. We are building on that capability to create a raspberry pi/Ooni Probe hybrid which can automatically check the availability of websites on different networks.

To join in and help shape and build the project, please join the tech-volunteers discussion list: sign-up here and introduce yourself. You can read more about this project and pitch in on the Wiki and our site.

Support our essential work today!

With all that is going on, NOW is the time to join ORG

Help us keep this work going and take on greater capacity.

We can't do the necessary work we do without support from digital rights activists like yourselves.

News in brief

Big, open and personal

Javier Ruiz, Campaigns Director, spoke at the Open Knowledge conference this week on the conflict between openness and personal privacy. He explored what tools best keep people in control of their data, while supporting open governance and the benefits of shared data.

Ada Lovelace Day discount!

Ada Lovelace Day is the annual celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and math. The event features live demos, biomedical wonders, neuroscience, inspiration, laughter and song. The organisers are offering a special £5 discount for the ORG Community. Anyone who uses the code 'org' will get £5 off the General Entry ticket (£15). Ada Lovelace Day takes place Tuesday 15th October, 18.00- 23.00.

Child rights and data rights?

Javier Ruiz, Campaigns Director, and Andy Phippen, from our advisory board, were at the Internet Governance Forum UK debating how we can balance online data protection with children's rights. The discussion covered many issues but centred on proposals for default adult filters. No-one in the panel, which included Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation, and Simon Milner from Facebook, supported mass filtering of legal adult content. The question we put to Alun Cairns MP, who did a great job at chairing the meeting, was why the government keeps pushing this policy with so little support.

ORG out and about

Horizon, Midata, Tue 24th September
Peter Bradwell will be taking part in a workshop on how Midata can be used to build useful services.

The Public Voice, Tue 24th September
Jim Killock will be taking part in an international discussion for privacy experts on responding to Snowden revelations.

Freedom Not Fear Conference, 27th - 30th September
Javier Ruiz will be taking part in a panel on the Naked Citizens data protection campaign.

Rally for Liberty, Sun 29th September, 11am - 1pm
Jim Killock, Executive Director, will be speaking at this Pirate Party organised rally. Join ORG at the event!
Greengate Square, Manchester, M3 7NJ

Oggcamp October 19th
Jim Killock will be speaking about the NSA/GCHQ revelations at this open software barcamp
LJMU Design Art & Design Academy, Liverpool 

ORG at the Party Conferences

Labour Party Conference, 
Tuesday 24th September, 5.15-7.00pm
The Guardian, Big Brother Watch, ORG and Tom Watson discuss the future of Labour policy on surveillance. If you can volunteer to help, get in touch. Free transport to Brighton available.
Thistle Hotel, Kings Road, Brighton

Conservative Party Conference,

30th September
ORG & Big Brother Watch: The Snooper’s Charter and freedom of speech - has Britain surrendered its international moral authority?
THE BRIDGEWATER HALL, Lower Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3WS



[Read more]

October 30, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - October 2009


  • URGENT: Comments needed on draft changes to our privacy policy

We urgently need your comments to help revise our privacy policy, which currently restricts our campaigning efforts. We are confident that the changes won't compromise your privacy but will make us more effective at fighting for your rights. In particular, we want to use non-EU but Safe Harbour-compliant services (e.g. Google Analytics, Campaign Monitor) and contact supporters - who opt-in to hear from us - more frequently about our campaigns. Please take a look and let us know by reply 1. If you approve of the changes or have criticisms to make; 2. Whether this needs more discussion. LInk to draft.

  • Mandelson gives go ahead to ‘three strikes’

Despite opposition from the public - demonstrated by our YouGov poll - and even the security services, Lord Mandelson is pressing on with a 'three strikes' disconnection policy for the UK. For now, we're still asking you - and we need each and every one of you to take action against this - to convince your MP to sign on to Tom Watson's EDM (kind of like a petition for politicians). Link to more.

  • Come see Bruce Schneier talk in London

Bruce Schneier, internationally-renowned cryptographer, technologist and author, will be giving a talk at an Open Rights Group event about current and future technologies' effects on privacy. Tickets and more info.

  • Recruiting a part-time administrator

We are recruiting for a part-time, paid position. The role of Administrator has been created to strengthen our core staff team. For a full job description and details of how to apply see here.


Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues.

An Open Rights Group poll - paid for by your donations - revealed the depth of public opposition to Mandelson's tough sanctions against alleged file-sharers. The poll also revealed public support for judicial oversight of the sanctions process and that 30% of those surveyed would be much less likely to vote for political parties that support the disconnection policy.

The Royal Mail, claiming financial loss flowing from copyright infringement, has disabled websites that were helping people to find jobs and discover planning applications in their area. ORG remarked that "It is particularly galling that Royal Mail are simultaneously trying to make people redundant, and closing a service which could help their ex-workers get a new job."

ORG joined Knowledge Ecology International International and Richard Stallman to call on EU competition regulators to protect the development of MySQL. Read the full letter at

[Read more]

September 30, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - September 2009

- Mandelson plans to disconnect p2p users: come to our event this Friday -
- London will e-count in 2012 -
- Google Books -
- Board of Directors: changing the guard; elections soon -
- Please help revise our privacy policy -
- Power 2010 -
- Press -


  • Mandelson plans to disconnect p2p users

We're campaigning hard against plans to disconnect p2p users, including a sit down discussion with Mandelson's staff on better ways to regulate. These are explained in detail in our response to the public consultation, which looks at the music industry's systematic opposition to all but the most powerful online music services. We also spell out that disconnection and shortcuts to justice are unacceptable breaches of human rights.

Open Rights Group is holding a public event on Friday 2 October to debate this issue - Gerd Leonhard (Music 2.0) and Ben Goldacre (Bad Science) will be speaking. And thanks to everyone who donated to the £1,000 fund for a public poll on opposition to the disconnection policy.

  • London *will* e-count in 2012

The decision has been taken to e-count London's 2012 elections. Boris Johnson's Chief Executive, Leo Boland, took the decision to disgregard our analysis of the GLA's cost-benefit analysis, which showed that e-counting would be more expensive and potentially less robust than manual counting. We have yet again expressed our lack of confidence in e-enabled electoral processes precisely because the systems increase the expense of electoral administration and increase the risk of errors and fraud.

  • Google Books

The European Commission's investigation into the Google Books settlement, which Open Rights Group attended as the sole representative of consumer interests, examined in detail the concerns of competition law but largely missed the point that European copyright law requires substantial reform for Europeans to enjoy the benefits of such innovative services. As a follow-up, we are invited to another Commission event on the regulation of orphan works.

  • Board of Directors: changing the guard, elections soon

At the September meeting of our Board of Directors, James Cronin was appointed Chair of Open Rights Group and Harry Metcalfe the Vice-Chair. William Heath and Louise Ferguson, who played instrumental roles in founding and guiding the organisation through its infancy, have stepped down from the Board. The staff wish to acknowledge the great deal of work, skill and compassion that William and Louise gave Open Rights Group. We also thank James and Harry for continuing these efforts.

We will hold our first elections to the Board in the next month or two and supporters will get to nominate (and vote for) suitable Directors (who also get a seat on the Advisory Council) - so get your thinking caps on!

  • Please help revise our privacy policy

We want to revise our privacy policy but need your help to do so. The current version is so narrowly drawn it precludes activities key to our campaign successes. These won't compromise your privacy but will make us more effective. In particular we wish to use non-EU but Safe Harbour-compliant services (e.g. Google Analytics, Campaign Monitor) and contact supporters (who choose to hear from us) more frequently about our work. There is a draft version on the website. Please commments either in the post or to supporters at openrightsgroup dot org by 28 October.

  • POWER2010

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust asked that we tell you about POWER2010. It's not Open Rights Group work but we thought you'd like to know! "POWER2010 is a new campaign to ensure our democracy gets the reform it so desperately needs. In the coming months they'll be asking you for your ideas about what needs to be changed. Do you want cleaner funding? Fairer voting? More accountability? You decide. The most popular ideas will become the POWER2010 Pledge and be taken to every candidate standing at the next election. To learn more about this campaign sign up now at"


Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues.

Recording artists have found a voice in the ongoing filesharing debate but unfortunately they are in favour of three strikes legislation. ORG commented that everyone concerned by this debate would be better off if the music industry focussed instead on licensing products to compete with illicit p2p services.

The Telecoms Package, carrying its threat for competition, innovation and freedom online, is in front of European legislators again. La Quadrature du Net are leading the opposition, with ORG commenting that a lack of transparency in the legislative process is frustrating even interested observers' attempts to press for the consumer interests.

Without considering concerns put forward by Open Rights Group and Electoral Commission, the GLA has chosen to contine using e-counting for the 2012 mayoral election. The officials in charge also chose to ignore their own cost-benefit analysis - showing an extra £1.5m in costs - demostrating a total disregard for budgetary as well as democratic concerns.

[Read more]

August 28, 2009 | Michael Holloway

Supporter update - August 2009

Stop press 1: Please support ORG by setting up a direct debit Stop press 2: 38 Degrees have started a petition telling Mandelson not to rush through extreme internet laws Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Three Strikes: Coming to an ISP near you? - - Website relaunch: 9 September - - Google Book Search: ORG evidence to Brussels -


  • Three Strikes: Digital Dictator Mandelson coming to an ISP near you?

    Government has crumbled under pressure from music and film industry lobbyists. It wants to fast-track sanctions, including blocking, throttling and disconnection. Initially published in the Digital Britain report, the so-called technical measures should have been delayed until letter-writing campaigns and new legitimate services were given a chance to reduce illicit filesharing. Now Mandelson wants the power to disconnect users without court action, infringing freedom of expression and the right to due process, on his personal say-so. Every ORG supporter needs to get in touch with their MP and explain why three strikes is disproportionate and counter-productive.


  • Website relaunch: 9 September

    Heads up - we'll be relaunching our website on 9 September and will need supporters to drive a veritable stampede of traffic in our direction. Save the date and keep an eye out on mailing lists and networks for when we ask you to post the link. Following that we'll have a month of recruitment activity, including a volunteer meeting on 25 September to plan a new digital rights Zine.


  • Google Book Hearing: our evidence to Brussels

    The European Commission is consulting as to the effect of the Google Book US Settlement Agreement on the European publishing sector, European authors, European consumers and society at large. We have produced, with a lot of help from Daithí Mac Síthigh, a written submission (link to PDF) about our concerns with the settlement in terms of consumer rights, privacy and access to knowledge (5). We have also been invited to attend the hearing in Brussels in early September.

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.



  • Associated Press - 'UK says illegal downloaders may lose Web access'
  • UK citizens who repeatedly download copyrighted films and music could have their Internet connection cut off under proposed laws to tackle illegal file-sharing unveiled by the British government on Tuesday. ORG says suspension would "restrict people's fundamental right to freedom of expression." This piece (and another from the Press Association) got ORG quoted far and wide - Jim also recorded interviews with the BBC (radio and TV), Sky (radio) and Russia Today.



  • The Scotsman - 'Download pirates facing internet ban'
  • Guv says their thinking has evolved on the filesharing question. We say its a "a knee-jerk reaction at a time when copyright infringement is reducing and online revenues are increasing." We also note the threat of disconnection contradicts Digital Britain's view that internet access is fast-becoming a fundamental right.



  • ZeroPaid - 'UK ISP Now Requires Court Order for Disconnection'
  • After we caused a kerfuffle, Karoo has backpedalled from its 'one strike' policy and requires copyright holders to obtain a court order before they disconnect customers. Its progress, but only just.


[Read more]

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 -


  • 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.

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 -


  • 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.


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." - '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.

[Read more]

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 -


  • 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.

[Read more]

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 -


  • 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 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

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

[Read more]