Supporter Newsletter

June 23, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: June 2014

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

Data Rention: Keeping the pressure on ISPs

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

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

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

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

Don't Spy on Us success

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

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

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

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

Halting HMRC plans for personal data sales

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

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

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

Save the Date! ORGCon 2014

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

When: November 15th, Kings College London

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

Classified: Out now

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

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

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

ORG's Legal Stream Kicks off

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

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

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

Quick Fire ORG News

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

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

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


ORG out and about

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

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

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

1 Labour in Vain Yard, Norwich

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

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April 30, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: April 2014

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

Will your MEPs protect digital rights?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop UK Censorship: Amazing response

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

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

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

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

Data retention overturned

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

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

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

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

Help us challenge the Government

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

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

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

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

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

If this sounds like you, please get in touch and email

ORG Scotland planning day

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

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

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

Quick fire ORG news

Quiz your MEP: European Digital Rights Hustings Dates

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

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

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

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

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

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

ORG out and about

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

10 Crichton Street

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


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March 13, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: March 2014

In this edition of the newsletter we celebrate Don't Spy on Us success as Lib Dems and Labour respond to pressure. Plus updates on the Censorship Monitoring Project and the European copyright consultation.

Big steps towards ending mass surveillance 

Thank you for supporting the Don't Spy on Us campaign. The effects of the petition and campaigning are beginning to show!

The Liberal Democrats have just passed a resolution to have a digital bill of rights. Nick Clegg has also commissioned a review of all the Edward Snowden files, and of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The Liberal Democrat party conference also endorsed the 13 Necessary and Proportionate principles.

Labour are now asking questions about safeguards on privacy. The Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper spoke at Demos stating the need for debate. She asked:
What safeguards do we want against inappropriate surveillance or invasions into our privacy and liberty by the British police and agencies?”

Both parties are putting privacy on the agenda for the elections. This wouldn't have been possible without your influence.

These are encouraging signs that ending mass surveillance is achievable!

Please sign the petition at:

Help Fight Default Censorship

The Censorship Monitoring Project is our volunteer-led project, building a tool to monitor over-blocking on the default filtering system across the UK. 

We've been generously offered £3000 in matched funding to keep this project going, meaning every £1 you give becomes £2 this month, whether that's a one off gift or your first year's subscription!

We have raised £1200 in 2 days! This is amazing, and we're so excited by all the support for this work.
But we're only half way there. Please read more about the project and donate or join here.

The world we want

This year ORG have been talking to all our supporters, local groups, partners, allies, staff board and Advisory Council about our work and our future.

As a result of this strategy work we've been thinking hard about how we want to grow over the next three years. One of the first changes is our new definition of the world we want to see: It's our call to arms and our mission statement.

“As society goes digital we wish to preserve its openness. We want a society built on laws, free from disproportionate, unaccountable surveillance and censorship.” [read the rest here]

We'll be sending a poll out shortly to ask for your thoughts on our new ideas.

How should copyright work for you?

The European Commission ran a public consultation on the future of copyright this month. This was a great opportunity to reform legal and technical restrictions and call for real consumer rights. We believe that if you've paid for the content, you should be able to control it in the same way you do physical media.

However, there were some worrying suggestions in the consultation, including whether copyright holders' should control who links to their content. Under this proposal links on Twitter could then be in breach of copyright law. These kind of plans go against the very foundation of the World Wide Web.

That's why we're delighted that over 400 of the 11,000 responses to the consultation from across Europe came from ORG supporters. We're playing a key role in convincing the EU that people do care about Europe-wide copyright reform. The European Commission are planning on releasing a white paper in June in response.

Local Groups: national success

It's been an excellent month for ORG's local groups around the country. They are doing a great job of organising events and getting local attention onto issues like medical privacy and filtering.

On the back of our local activism training day in February, two new groups have started up in Norwich and Bristol. Norwich will be having their launch event on mid-april April with Internet and human rights experts, Paul Bernal and Wendy Grossman giving a 'state of the web' round-up.

Richard King, our Censorship Monitoring Project Manager will be touring many of our local groups this month. He'll be explaining the problems of filtering and what the project will be achieving.

If you are interested in getting involved with any of these groups please email us, and have a look at the ORG Out and About section for details of a meeting near you.

Quick fire ORG news

-We welcomed this week’s vote in the European Parliament to approve a Regulation on data protection. The Regulation will strengthen European citizens’ rights over their data.

-Javier Ruiz was in San Francisco last week for RightsCon, where he presented our PrivacynotPrism successful crowdfunding project. He also had meetings with other groups campaigning against mass surveillance, and discussed open data and privacy at the Responsible Data Forum.

-We recently asked our Scottish members if they'd like to see an ORG Scotland set up. If you live in Scotland and haven't answered yet, have your say here.

-ORG held a packed event at the Free Word Centre on the Day We Fight Back. On Tuesday 11th February 150 people took part in  the launch of Don't Spy on Us coalition campaign. They heard talks about the Snowden leaks, learnt encryption and secure data storage and signed onto the petition.

-Executive Director Jim Killock appeared on Sky News on Wednesday 12th March debating Tim Berners-Lee's call for a digital Magna Carta.

ORG out and about

ORG-Edinburgh; Internet Filtering, ORG's Censorship Monitoring Project Wednesday, 19 March. 6.30-8.00pm
Hear from Richard King who is managing ORG's Censorship Monitoring Project. What are the risks posed by filtering? And how can over-blocking be challenged?
Informatics Forum
10 Crichton Street

ORG-Manchester;  ORG's Censorship Monitoring Project Tuesday, 18 March. 7.00pm - 9.00pm
Hear from Richard King who is managing ORG's Censorship Monitoring Project. What are the risks posed by filtering? And how can over-blocking be challenged?  Town Hall Tavern
20 Tibb Lane, M2 4JA , Manchester  

ORG-London meetup; Threats to your medical confidentiality, Monday 17th March
7.00pm - 9.00pm
Phil Booth from Medical Confidentiality will be explaining the proposed changes to your medical privacy.
The Open Data Institute, 3rd Flood, 65 Clifton St, London 

Join ORG today!

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

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

Please join here now.

Thank you!

[Read more]

February 10, 2014 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: January 2014

In this edition of the newsletter we announce big success in our legal fundraising, and our Privacy Not Prism case. Plus how you can defend your medical privacy and join the Day We Fight Back campaign.

You did it!

We're delighted to announce that  we have successfully raised enough to hire a full-time Legal Director!

We'll be recruiting for this position in the next month and are very excited about what this will mean for ORG. As Cory Doctorow wrote, “impact litigation can win victories that simply can't be won in any other way.”

Our supporter numbers have grown 40% in a year, with 200 in the last month! This show of support for digital rights will allow us to be more ambitious for the future, and start our full-fledged legal track.

You can still help out – there are always extra costs, including rent and fees for legal publications, that an extra contribution can cover costs for.

Your funding means we can campaign on privacy, surveillance, filtering and free speech. Thank you for promoting ORGLawFund and making it a success!

We're taking the Government to Court

We have really exciting news in our Privacy Not Prism case!

The European Court has completed its preliminary examination of our case and has now asked the UK Government to justify how GCHQ's practices comply with Article 8 of the European Convention: the right to privacy.

The court has also given the case a rare 'priority' designation. The Government has until 2 May to respond, after which the case will move into the final stages before judgment.

In September we submitted a legal action, with English PEN and Big Brother Watch, on behalf of all Internet users in the UK and EU against excessive state surveillance.

Daniel Carey, our solicitor in the case, says:
"This gives real hope to the public that the European Court of Human Rights will require reform if the Government continues to insist that nothing is wrong."

The Day We Fight Back

February 11th 2014.

You'll be seeing some big news from ORG released on the 11th! We'll be announcing Don't Spy On Us - the UK arm of a global campaign to fight back for our right to privacy.

Join us at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon for our launch event!

They'll be short talks, opportunities to take action, learn about encryption, secure your communications and ask questions to the experts on GCHQ practices.

Please tell us you're coming here:

Digital rights organisations from around the world are working together for a co-ordinated day of action. Together we're building a united voice against mass surveillance, and the biggest Internet protest in history. You can find out about how to take part in the online here:

Blocked Project Needs You

We held an event at the Mozilla hackspace on Saturday 18 January to develop our Censorship Monitoring Project. We had a fantastic day with 30 volunteers coming together to shape this new tool.

Default filtering is being out-sourced to third party companies and as a result we don’t know what, how or why sites are being blocked. We need to know, and you can help.

Our project intends to make it easy for anyone to check whether and where their site is blocked, scrutinising the new default filtering.

Whether it is coding, user experience testing, app design or spreading the word, please join up to our tech volunteers mailing list if you'd like to get involved.

Keep your medical records private

Radical changes to the way the NHS stores your medical records are about to take place.

Where your details are stored, who can see them and who will manage them are all due to be changed in the next months. Your records will be held centrally and then may made available to a variety of people and institutions: universities, think tanks and businesses. Sometimes this will 'anonymised', sometimes 'pseudonymised' and sometimes identifiable.

You need to actively opt-out, if you do not wish to have your data automatically transferred.

Read our blog on what is happening to your records and how to opt out.

You can learn more about the changes to medical privacy at ORG events around the country in Manchester, Sheffield, London and Brighton. Phil Booth from the MedConfidential campaign will be leading these talks and answering your questions.

Get involved with ORG's work

There are lots of ways you can get involved with ORG. Join or start a local group, write for the zine or help promote us.

Thank you for all your help. We can't do the necessary work we do without support from digital rights activists like yourselves.

Quick fire ORG news

-Javier Ruiz participated in a panel at the Computers, Privacy & Data Protection conference in Brussels titled "(Distributive) Justice vs Privacy - The Uneasy Tradeoff in Copyright Debates"

-ORG had a meeting with The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) who are now involved in mobile filtering. They run an appeals process and provide advice to filtering companies. We let you know how to complain about the overblocking on our blog.

ORG out and about

ORG Manchester; CryptoParty 2!
Thurs 6 February, 7pm
Part of the Manchester Free Software Festival, ORG-Manchester will be training you in staying secure and anonymous online.
36-40 Edge Street, Manchester

ORG-Brighton; CryptoParty - The Day We Fight Back!
Tuesday 11 February, 6.30 PM
With international actions, and a new UK coalition to stop mass surveillance launching on February 11th, we thought it would be an excellent idea to run a Crypto Party to show how to improve your personal security and privacy.68 Middle Street, Brighton

ORG-Sheffield; Changes to medical confidentiality
Wednesday 12 February, 6.30pm
We'll be discussing how to opt-out and stop your data from being uploaded to the new centralised record database. Shakespeare pub,
146-148 Gibralter Steet,

ORG-London meetup; Blinkbox, LoveFilm and Netflix: How DRM gets them all
Monday 17 February, 7pm
Internet TV expert Paul Thompson will be talking about his experiences working at major brands like Netflix and LoveFilm, nd why do the studios push for use of DRM?
The Angel
60 Farringdon Road

ORG-Manchester; Threats to your medical confidentiality: NHS
Tues 25 February, 7pm
Phil Booth from MedConfidential will be on hand to answer all your questions. Organised with FSFE Manchester and No2ID Manchester
Friends Meeting House
Mount Street
Behind Central Library
Manchester M2 5NS

ORG-Brighton: TA3M on MedConfidential
Monday 17 February, 6.30pm
Phil Booth from MedConfidential will be speaking changes to your medical records.
Venue TBC

We also do a weekly update on all things in technology policy and political developments for digital rights. Subscribe to get the weekly news in our Parliamentary & Policy Update.

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December 16, 2013 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter: December 2013

In this November/December edition of the newsletter we celebrate a key announcement on parody, the Necessary and Proportionate and a big milestone for ORG's supporters.

This is our last newsletter of 2013! We'd like to thank you for campaigning with us throughout the year and for all you've helped us achieve. Together we stopped the Snoopers' Charter, took PRISM to court, challenged online censorship, exposed private data sales and more. We look forward to more campaigning with you in 2014 and wish you happiness in the holiday season!

Support privacy principles 

Across the globe 300 civil liberties groups have united in response to the revelations of mass surveillance on citizens by security services and intelligence agencies.

This month the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance were announced.

The 13 'Necessary and Proportionate Principles' explain how international human rights law applies to governments engaged in communications surveillance. They should be the framework for change around the globe.

The principles were drafted by civil society groups, surveillance experts and NGOs from around the world, including ORG.

Can you join people from around the world and add your name?

Parody exception promised

Despite several Government consultations since the Hargeaves Review in 2011, we are still waiting for the promised copyright reforms to be put into law.

This month responding to the delays we wrote to the Minister, Lord Younger, urging him to get on with the long-promised changes.

The reforms we are seeking are relatively modest. These include 'exceptions' for people with disabilities, parody and format shifting.

Lord Younger told us in reply that the Government intends to lay the regulations before Parliament next year, for commencement in April, including the proposed exception for caricature, parody or pastiche.

We haven’t won yet, but this commitment to keep parody in the mix is a positive step forwards.

Milestone for ORG: 2000 supporters 

We are really proud of what we've achieved in 2013. Take a look at our milestone blog to read the full list of victories in 2013.

We've become louder and more effective at defending your rights. We've seen an enormous amount of interest in our campaigns, with unprecedented numbers responding to Government consultations through us, and thousands signing our petition against mass filtering of the Internet.

The greatest growth has been in our brilliant community of supporters who have helped make real impact on technology laws: We are very close to 2000!

 Help us keep this work going and take on greater capacity to fight on your behalf. If you haven't already, please join here now.

Backroom deals on 'extremist blocks'

The Government want ISPs to block access to 'extremist' content, according to the report of the "Extremism Taskforce", set up after the killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Website blocking has become the go-to button for politicians to press when they need to be seen reacting strongly to media outcry.

However, as far as we understand, no freedom of expression groups have been involved in planning the changes.

The Government's policy on extreme content can't just be that ISPs should block sites that have been classified as extreme by some secretive government body. The term 'extremism' can be used broadly enough to include any political activists. Whether by accident or abuse content that has little to do with terrorism and national security will be censored.

Help our report on  business impacts of Snowden revelations

We want to hear how UK organisations think the recent surveillance revelations have impacted their business or work.

Are you dealing with data protection, confidentiality, trade secrets, intellectual property or encryption worries? Are you concerned about and less likely to use cloud services? Or are you simply unable to see a reasonable way to manage these risks?

ORG are preparing a report into how mass surveillance effects UK businesses and we'd love your help in providing evidence. If this doesn't apply to you, do you know anyone who would be able to speak to us? Find out more on our campaign page.

Encryption events: National Success

ORG took part in a number of CryptoParties across the country in November. Our local groups did an amazing job of organising  events and teaching people the encryption and the current surveillance situation.

Brighton CryptoFestival – Jointly organised with Lighthouse, a kid-friendly day with talks, workshops and Lego

London CryptoFestival – Organised by Dan McQuillan this big event had some fantastic speakers including Ian Brown and Wendy Grossman from ORG's Advisory Council.

ORG-Manchester CryptoParty – The Manchester group had a great time using giant postcards, games and cake to teach people about preserving privacy.

ORG-Sheffield Practical Secure Email session – The Sheffield group focused specifically on secure email communications.

ORG-Bath cryptoparty - ORG supporter has training retired members of the Bath University of the Third Age on passwords, Truecrypt and back-ups.

If you are interested in getting involved with any of these groups or events, please email Open Rights Group.

Quick fire news

-Jim Killock, Executive Director spoke on BBC News and Sky News live on Monday, reacting to the story that the world's biggest tech companies united to demand surveillance reform.

-Last week saw the Advocate General declare the Data Retention Directive incompatible with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. ORG provided some important background on what this means for our privacy rights.

-Nominet announced this month that they are going to press ahead with the new .uk domain name registries. We responded to their consultation that this decision to create a new domain name is an extra cost on uk businesses and are disappointed with this decision. 

-Our parliamentary and policy update every Friday is a great way to stay up to date on all digital policy news, subscribe here.

ORG out and about

ORG Christmas Party, 16th December, 7pm onwards
Join us for nibbles and drinks at the Green Man!
383 Euston Road, London

Labour Campaign for Human Rights, Tue 17th December, 6.30-8.30pm
Jim Killock is speaking on a panel at debating: "GCHQ and the fight against terrorism: does UK surveillance go too far?"
Committee Room 6, Parliament

Computers, Privacy and Data Protection, 22-24 January
Peter Bradwell, Policy Director, and Caspar Bowden will be presenting at this conference on reforming data prtection.
Brussels, Belgium

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October 31, 2013 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter October 2013

This month's newsletter announces the UK's first surveillance debate in parliament, updates our Privacy not Prism campaign, ORG's response to the copyright consultations, our role in upcoming cryptoparties and more.

ORG win: First UK surveillance debate

Today the UK Parliament will be holding its first substantial debate on mass surveillance since the first leaks back in June. This is a big win for ORG as MPs have heeded our calls for a debate in Parliament. 

The MPs Tom Watson and Julian Huppert from ORG's Advisory Council, as well as Dominic Raab MP, have secured a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament today on 'oversight of intelligence and security services.'

Politicians in America and Europe have held debates on oversight of intelligence agencies, yet so far the UK Government has worried more about whether the newspapers should have said anything at all. Now Parliament is fulfilling its job of ensuring that intelligence agencies’ powers are necessary and proportionate.

If you have a chance, call your MP this morning and ask them to take part in the debate. There’s still time for you to call your MP and let them know that this issue matters to you!

You can watch the debate live from 1.30pm.

Privacy not Prism: £20k in 2 days

Thank you for your overwhelming support of our Privacy not PRISM campaign! We crowdfunded £20k to fund a legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights against the UK Government’s surveillance of our data – and hit that goal over one weekend!

Not only did you help us raise the money in record time, but you also proved that there is real public urgency towards stopping the mass surveillance situation, and you busted the myth that the UK just doesn’t care.

The challenge is being jointly taken by ourselves, Big Brother Watch, English PEN and Internet campaigner Constanze Kurz. We are demanding that the Government be held accountable to human rights law.

You can read more about it on the Privacy not Prism site, which is still accepting donations to further support the campaign.

Whistleblowers in the digital age

Former GCHQ director, David Omand, investigative journalist Heather Brooke, and Malcolm Rifkind, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee: just a few of those who give opinions on Edwards Snowden and the morals of whistleblowing in our latest video. 

The magnitude of Snowden's revelations has raised a huge debate around the world about the balance between privacy and security, but also about whistleblowers and their rights. The UK law protects the majority of whistleblowers, but doesn't cover the security agencies' workers who deal with secret information, as in Edward Snowden's case. 

Still from whistleblower video of Francesca West

UK Government: Both Open and Shut?

This Friday is the Open Government Partnership London summit. The OGP is a project to bring people dedicated to transparency from across the world to make governments more accountable.

ORG will be leading a panel on transparency and surveillance. We will be calling for Government to back its basic commitment to ‘open society' by extending that idea to surveillance. We will look at how these issues relate and how to protect human rights while enhancing openness.

The panel will be led by Mort Halperin (OSF) and includes Ian Brown  (Oxford Internet Institute), Jim Killock  (ORG), Jacqueline Peschard (Federal Institute for Access to Public Information, Mexico), David Banisar (Article 19) and a representative of Brazilian government.

Join a cryptoparty!

Cryptoparties are a global movement: each one is an open event to help people protect their computer and their private data. They are aimed at complete beginners so you don’t need any technical knowledge to come along. We’d like to help more of these events take place so everyone can understand how to protect themselves from surveillance.

ORG will be speaking, taking part and helping people to run several of these events in coming months:

-The ORG-Manchester group will be running one of these events joint with their local Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) branch on Saturday 7th December, Mad Lab.

-At the London Crypto-Festival, Saturday 30th November, Wendy Grossman and Ian Brown, members of our Advisory Council will be speaking.

-Brighton cryptofestival (kid-friendly!) join the ORG-Brighton group and Lighthouse for talks, workshops and kid events at Sunday 1st December, Lighthouse, Brighton.

We’d like to encourage you to start one going too! We’ll help you promote it and arrange speakers and provide advice if needed.  

Join ORG today!

ORG have had some major victories in the last 2 months: We are small, growing and effective. Join and become part of a movement fighting to protect fundamental rights like privacy and free speech.

NOW is the time to join ORG

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

 Help us keep this work going and take on greater capacity to fight on your behalf.

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

Please join here now.

Thank you!

Quick fire ORG actions

-We responded to President Obama’s review board on the scale of NSA surveillance. We responded to emphasise the need to respect non-US people's privacy rights and to restrain untargeted, mass surveillance.

-We responded to the IPO's copyright in Europe consultation, raising concerns about DRM, disabled access and parody.

-We criticised the Culture Committee’s recent copyright report as one-sided and simplistic, reducing the debate to either liking the creative industries or not.

- We responded jointly with the Open Knowledge Foundation and Open Corporates to an HMRC consultation on releasing the VAT Register with general support for the notion.

-Our parliamentary and policy update is back and running. If you want to stay up to date on all digital policy news, subscribe here.

ORG out and about

Open Government Partnership Summit, 1 November, 2pm
ORG will be leading and participating in a panel on open society and surveillance.

London Crypto-Festival
, Saturday 30 November 11am - 4pm
Presentations from ORG Advisory Council members Wendy Grossman and Ian Brown.
New academic building
Goldsmiths University of London

, Wednesday 13 November 18:30
All welcome! Visit their meet-up page to vote for the topic!
The Graduate, opposite the central library.

TA3M activism meetup, Monday 18 November
Javier Ruiz, ORG, will be speaking at this meetup about our privacy not prism legal challenge.
Lighthouse, 28 Kensington Street, Brighton BN1 4AJ

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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



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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

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