Newsletter: The spring of digital discontent

From Amber Rudd’s resignation and the Windrush scandal to GDPR and Cambridge Analytica, today’s headlines relate to digital rights more than ever. We’d like to send a huge THANK YOU to all our supporters who’ve contributed to the growing wave of engagement and action this year.

Windrush’s lesson for the Data Protection Bill

The Home Office destroyed the landing cards of people who moved to the UK, erasing vital evidence to prove their status as legal residents. The scandal cost Amber Rudd her job, yet the Gov is about to make the same mistake for digital records. The new Data Protection Bill contains an Immigration Exemption, which would remove people’s rights to access their own data if it “would prejudice effective immigration control". This spells disaster for millions of EU nationals living in the UK required to apply for a new immigration status after Brexit. ORG is teaming up with the3million to challenge the Exemption in court if it becomes law. Meanwhile over a thousand ORG activists have told their MPs to oppose the Exemption. If you haven’t already, help prevent a digital repeat of the Windrush scandal!

Age verification technology consultation closes

Over 500 ORG supporters submitted detailed responses to the BBFC’s public consultation on age verification! Born of the 2017 Digital Economy Act’s requirement that pornographic websites must verify UK internet users are over 18 years, AV technology will create highly sensitive repositories of the public’s porn watching habits. Thanks to supporters like you, the BBFC were told in no uncertain terms that privacy must be a priority and not an afterthought for age verification. Read ORG’s most recent blog on AV, or our full 22-page consultation response here.

What is the Digital Charter?

From Bristol and Oxford to Leeds and Edinburgh, ORG’s local groups across the UK held a series of public events about new threats to free speech posed by the Government’s Digital Charter. ORG’s concerns include proposals for harsh fines on social media companies that fail to takedown extremist content within two hours because they will increase reliance on algorithmic filters to control what we see and say online. You can still sign our petition to Prime Minister May and the Home Office opposing this and other problems with the Digital Charter.

More filters, more problems

Our MEPs will vote on the EU’s Copyright Directive soon. If Article 13 passes into law, an algorithmic upload filter will decide whether the content you upload is seen or blocked. Filters struggle to grasp context, so are unable to reliably identify the vital legal exceptions to copyright that enable research, commentary, creative works, parody and so much more. From academics and journalists to casual videos that happen to have a popular song in the background, Article 13's upload filter would impact professional and ordinary content creators alike. There is still time to tell your MEPs that Article 13 is a terrible idea.

QUICKFIRE NEWS

  1. ORG Policy Director Javier Ruiz and Legal Director Myles Jackman attended the House of Lords to give evidence to the Communications Committee on possible future paths for internet regulation. You can watch the livestream here.

  2. The UK High Court made an important ruling on Liberty’s challenge to the Investigatory Powers Act. ORG Legal Officer Alex Haydock explains the merits and limits of the ruling.

  3. Watch ORG Scotland Director Matthew Rice tell Victoria Derbyshire why the Data Protection Bill should be amended: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09yrymf/victoria-derbyshire-11042018

ORG AROUND THE UK

ORG Aberdeen: Cryptonoise

Discuss digital rights issues that are in the news. Learn how you can help to protect your rights in a digital world. Bring a smartphone or laptop and browse the web anonymously, learn about these technologies and chat about the reasons we need them.

Thursday May 31st 6-9pm

57North Hacklab

35a Union Street, Aberdeen AB11 5BN

https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Aberdeen/events/xnffxlyxhbpc/ 

ORG Norwich: Free speech event planning session

The focus of this meeting will be on final preparations for our publicity stall at Hayhill on Saturday 12th May.

Thursday May 3rd 7-9pm

Neontribe

21 Colegate, Norwich NR3 1BN

https://www.meetup.com/ORG-Norwich/events/250188677/