We’ve only been back from our Christmas holidays a couple of weeks, and it’s amazing how much we’ve packed in. We’ve had several victories on long and short-term campaigns: thank you for all that you’ve done to make these happen!
In many countries, including the UK, specific websites are blocked by court orders. These websites disappear without transparency; no information about who blocked them, or why, or who requested it – just a lack of access.
Now there is a new error code (like error 404): '451 - unavailable for legal reasons' to give this information. The Internet Engineering Taskforce approved this code as a draft in late December, and Wordpress (who make up one quarter of the web) have just implemented it.
It’s a real testament to the digital rights community that is happening: Tim Bray made the proposal to the IETF; ORG, with volunteer legal help and your crowd funding analysed and published court orders, exposing the levels of censorship in blocking, and campaigning on how the code could be used; Article19 worked hard with the IETF to push for the draft.
Together we have made a change to structure of the Internet!
Many of you used our tool to take part in the Government's consultation which proposed 10 year prison sentences for copyright infringement earlier last year. We argued that this punishment treated users who share links and files online more harshly than ordinary, physical infringement and did not recognise the differences between physical and online.
The Government has now published their response and it revealed that 98 percent of respondents also thought the sentence would be too harsh, with the vast majority of people answering through our tool.
Thanks to people like you, the Government have halted their plans in order to have a rethink.
ORG and the other members of the Don’t Spy on Us coalition met with Bill Binney during his visit to the UK. Bill Binney, is the ex-technology director of the NSA, and a whistle-blower. This is a key voice to be heard in the surveillance debate.
He spoke to the Joint Committee analysing the Investigatory Powers Bill and gave them his powerful evidence and experience explaining that mass surveillance, “has cost lives in Britain because it inundates analysts with too much data”.
Whilst here Bill Binney also recorded a 3-part interview in our office, called "Why mass surveillance costs lives" which you can watch here.
Last week we joined the Secure the Internet coalition and nearly 200 organisations worldwide, from Apple to EFF, in writing to government leaders demanding they support strong encryption and to reject any law, policy, or mandate that would undermine digital security.
ORG followed on this strong momentum and joined together with otherDon't Spy on Us members to demand that Theresa May not weaken encryption in the new Bill. We urged her to state clearly that the Investigatory Powers Bill will not undermine security.
As France has just agreed to reject backdoors we will keep fighting for the UK to step up and make the same pledge.
Our crowded funded Indiegogo reached over its target! With your help we have raised £20, 624 to produce a high-quality campaign video and website to highlight the importance of privacy and rolling back mass surveillance.
We had our first meeting this week with our team of professional film-makers to get started on producing a script, and you'll hear from us more on this very soon.
Thank you very much for helping make it happen!
Scrambling for safety
On January 7th we worked with Julian Huppert and Professor Ross Anderson, to support the seventh Scrambling for Safety conference which debated the Investigatory Powers Bill.
The event brought together different groups interested in surveillance policy for an open exchange of views, and information sharing. The live-stream of the event is available on our site.