Supporter Newsletter: September 2015

This month we've been preparing for the release of the Investigatory Powers Bill, responding to government reviews & speaking at conferences. We're not the only ones on it though, with MI5 giving their first ever live interview. However, this Bill is an opportunity for us to achieve a surveillance law that is transparent and proportionate. Help us campaign to make it happen!

MI5's first live interview

Last week was the first time someone from MI5 has given a live public interview. Speaking to Radio 4, the Director General of MI5, Andrew Parker, took this unusual step to call for a "modern and transparent" surveillance law, warned of terrorist attacks, and complained about how encryption was stopping them accessing the communications of people they believed to be terrorists.

Parker made the comments ahead of the publication of the draft Intelligence Powers Bill this autumn. A joint committee of MPs and peers will scrutinise the Bill over the winter, then MPs will start voting on it next spring.

ORG has been calling for a new law that will make sure that surveillance is necessary and proportionate. This is an opportunity for us to achieve that. However, we need to make sure that this new Bill does not instead increase the state’s surveillance powers - by for example increasing the scope of data that ISPs retain about us.

We are campaigning for an end to collect-it-all surveillance. We want surveillance to be targeted to those suspected of serious crime instead of storing everyone's data, all the time. We're also pushing for judicial authorisation instead of the ministerial sign-offs on warrants that we have at the moment.

Can you help us with our lobbying, campaigning, research and press work in the next few months? Join ORG for £5 a month to support our fight for digital freedoms.

ORG at Labour and Conservative Party Conferences

We will be holding events at both the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences. In Brighton on Tuesday 29th Septemberm Campaign Director of Don’t Spy On Us, Mike Harris will be talking about the upcoming Investigatory Powers Bill which is set to extend surveillance powers even further.

In Manchester on Monday 5th October, our Executive Director Jim Killock will be also be talking about the IPB and how we can stop it. Both events will include an interactive campaign workshop. They are completely free and open to the public!

Prison for file-sharers

The IPO ran a consultation this summer on proposals to increase the maximum prison sentence for criminal online copyright infringement to ten years.

They were aiming to match sanctions for online copyright infringement with physical copyright infringement —regardless of the platform used. While we agreed with their logic, in fact the proposals to risked punishing users who share links and files online more harshly than ordinary, physical theft.

We asked you to complete the consultation using our online tool, and over 1000 supporters responded!

Following this incredible response our Director Jim Killock was invited to meet with the IPO to further lay out our concerns. They have also promised to keep us informed of their decision-making, and we’ll keep you up to date with this campaign.

Do the Government reviews hold up?

Open Rights Group is a member of the Don’t Spy on Us coalition, which campaigns against the mass surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden. Since the launch of the DSOU campaign, the Government announced a series of major inquiries, in response to the public and civil society’s demand for greater transparency. These 3 reviews were carried out by the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and the Royal United Services Institute.

DSOU has now published a report that compares these inquiries’ findings against the six DSOU principles: No surveillance without suspicion, transparent laws, not secret laws, judical not political authorisation, effective democratic oversight, the right to redress and a secure Internet for all.

Our report aims to help Parliamentarians assess whether the coming draft Investigatory Powers Bill, addresses the inquiries’ recommendations. It will be published next Tuesday.

Businesses support ORG

ORG has opened up its membership to businesses that support our aims and values. We are launching this new scheme today with Andrews &Arnold, Grit Digital and Valacato Hosting, and also Bytemark who have long-terme provided us with our web servers.

The focus of ORG’s work will always be the digital rights of individuals. But many businesses also benefit from our campaigns for fair laws, transparency and an open Internet. With their financial support, our campaigns can have even more of an impact. Getting the business perspective on Government policies and and technical developments will also help us to have more informed positions and responses.

Only businesses that support digital rights will be able to become ORG Corporate Supporters and we will not promote their products. But we will listen to their concerns and encourage them to get involved in our campaigns.

If your business or organisation is interested in joining ORG, please email for more information.

Local Groups Update

This month supporters in London and Birmingham organised fantastic meet ups. On Thursday 3rd September ORG Birmingham talked about the Snoopers’ Charter and how to win the argument against surveillance. In London on Monday 21st September, our group held Lightning Talks, a series of short talks from members on the theme of ‘Campaigning and Activism’.

We encourage you to find your local group or even set a new one up!

ORG out and about

ORG Brighton: Take Action Against Surveillance (Talk & Workshop) 29 September 7pm.
With the Campaign Director of Don’t Spy On Us, Mike Harris.
Ground Floor Auditorium
68 Middle Street, Brighton, BN1 1LA, Brighton

ORG Manchester: Episode V: The Snoopers' Charter Strikes Back! 5October 7pm
Hear Open Rights Group's Executive Director, Jim Killock on stopping the Snoopers' Charter and learn how to campaign against it in a workshop.
36-40 Edge Street, Manchester

ORG Bristol: Lets stop the Snoopers' Charter 11 October 3pm
Learn how to lobby your MP like a seasoned activist! Supporters in Bristol are running an interactive workshop using a special ORG campaign briefing on how to fight against the Snoopers' Charter.
Bristol Games Hub, 77 Stokes Croft BS1 3RD, Bristol

ORG London: Local politics 101, 19 October 7pm
What have you always wanted to know about local politics? What is the difference between a councillor and an MP? Find out these answers and more.
Newspeak House
133-135 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG, London