Supporter Newsletter: June 2015

This month we celebrate the positive news that independent reviews of surveillance legislation have come out criticising the plans for a revival of the Snoopers' Charter. We're also hosting launch events for ORG Scotland this month, and share a victory for the Save the Link campaign.

“It is time for a clean slate”

We have good news in the fight against mass surveillance!

In the Anderson report published last week, the UK's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation described the UK surveillance laws as, “fragmented, obscure, under constant challenge... undemocratic, unnecessary” and declared "it is time for a clean slate." David Anderson QC, was tasked with reviewing surveillance law as a requirement of the DRIPA. Unsurprisingly he does not condemn mass surveillance in principle, but the report calls for a radical overhaul of how surveillance is regulated, and that's a great start. His key points were:

Legal reform: A comprehensive and comprehensible new law is needed.
Warrants: Warrants should be signed off by judicial commissioners.
Snoopers' Charter: The Government hasn't made a strong enough case for why this is needed.

Anderson's review and the Intelligence and Security Committee's Privacy and Security report wouldn’t have happened were it not for Edward Snowden's revelations, and persistent campaigning from the digital rights community.

Support our campaign against the Snoopers’ Charter here.

ORG Scotland launch

This week we are launching ORG Scotland with a series of free events across Scotland. Our Press Launch at the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) on 25th June, will be attended by Patrick Harvie MSP and Willie Rennie MSP.

We have also organised a series of events across Scotland in Aberdeen (26th), Dundee (27th) and Glasgow (29th) and Edinburgh on the 29th. It's an exciting time to be fighting for digital rights in Scotland and we want you to be a part of it.

There will be talks from Wendy Grossman (Journalist, Activist and Open Rights Group Advisory Council member). These events will give you the opportunity to meet Pol Clementsmith, our newly hired Scotland Officer, who will be heading up ORG's campaigning in Scotland. Come listen to the talks, and tell Pol what you think we should be working on.

Release the Sheinwald report

With the passing in July 2014 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), Prime Minister David Cameron announced the nomination of a Special Envoy on intelligence and law enforcement data sharing.

Two months later, he chose Sir Nigel Sheinwald, a senior diplomat who has represented the United Kingdom in Brussels as well as Washington, to fill this role. His mission was to examine what can be done, in legal terms, to facilitate the access to customers' metadata detained by companies overseas, for instance in the US.

The report supposedly concludes that negotiating an international data sharing treaty would be the best option.
However, the Guardian revealed in June 2015 that this report would not be made public on the grounds that it contains sensitive details on company's operations.

This secrecy is just another way to protect the Snoopers' Charter, as this Bill also aims at accessing metadata stored by companies. Jim Killock, Executive Director was quoted by the Guardian as stating that,

“A new international treaty is the right approach to cross-border requests for data by law enforcement agencies. This approach undermines Theresa May’s claim that there is a need for a new Snooper’s Charter when there is a simple, transparent and workable solution.”

Save the Link victory

The Save the Link coalition campaigns to stop proposals that would limit our right to link freely online.

This week we celebrated a key success in the European Union Parliament. The Legal Affairs committee voted to pass a pro-Internet copyright report, updating the rules on how we share and collaborate online. A key debate was over a system nicknamed the ‘link tax’, where aggregators and search engines - Google News, Reddit, etc. - have to pay to use snippets as small as a single word to link to news articles. These systems are already in place in Germany and Spain.

The implementation of these rules has not been successful, with most publishers in Germany choosing to waive the fee in favour of being listed in search results. That’s why we were delighted when EU Parliamentarians, under pressure from over 65,000 people at, rejected an amendment calling for expanding the ‘link tax’ to the rest of the EU.A move like this would have negatively affected Internet users across the globe, threatening freedom of expression, and setting a dangerous precedent.

Find out more about why this is a bad idea, and what the next steps are here.

International Open Data conference

Javier Ruiz, Policy Director, ran a workshop on privacy at the International Open Data Conference in Ottawa, Canada for government and civil society. The session explored how being open-by-default should not threaten the privacy and rights of citizens.

The workshop gave an introduction to basic concepts around privacy and open data to encourage critical thinking when considering releasing personal information. The session managed both to get participants to discuss in quite detail these issues, and also to flag privacy concerns more widely around the conference.

Quick Fire News

Challenging DRIPA in Court
Last year, ORG and Privacy International made submissions to a legal challenge to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) brought by Liberty on behalf of MPs David Davis and Tom Watson.

Our submission pointed out that DRIPA isn’t compliant with European laws. This was raised at a hearing at the High Court on 4th and 5th June, which also saw Liberty argue that DRIPA is incompatible with the Human Rights Act.

ORG Website changes
We’ve just revamped the ORG web site. Our Campaigns, Get Involved and Local Groups sites have had a complete overhaul and we’re really proud of how they look now. Please take a look and take action!

Labour Campaign for Human Rights
The Labour Campaign for Human Rights is building a grassroots movement within the Labour Party to oppose the Snoopers' Charter and curb mass surveillance. We would like to call on all ORG members who are also members of the Labour party to come forward and help LCHR pass motions opposing the Snoopers' Charter in their Constituency Labour Party. Five groups have already passed motions and LCHR would like to get more passed in the coming weeks. If you can help, please contact

Open Rights Group's Policy Report is back! Every week we produce a report on what's happening in digital rights politics across UK & Europe. You can subscribe to this newsletter here.

ORG out and about

Help us launch ORG Scotland
Open Rights Group is launching 'ORG Scotland' with our new Scotland Officer, Pol Clementsmith! We have organised a series of events in Scotland:

Aberdeen: Friday, June 26, 2015
6:15 PM to 8:30 PM
Meston Building, University of Aberdeen, King's College, AB24 3FX

Dundee: Saturday, June 27, 2015
2:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Dundee Contemporary Arts
152 Nethergate, Dundee

Glasgow: Sunday, June 28, 2015
2:30 PM to 5:00 PM
The Old Hairdresser's (opposite stereo) Renfield Lane, Glasgow, G2 6PH, Glasgow

Edinburgh: Monday, June 29, 2015
6:45 PM to 9:00 PM

Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street Edinburgh, EH3 9DR, Edinburgh

Thank you

Everyone who takes part in our actions, attends an event, volunteers, or becomes a member, is helping politicians remember that we are not giving up on the right to privacy.

Thank you for supporting our work.

Best wishes,

ings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at:

Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Merseyside L3 4FP - See more at:

ACC Liverpool

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