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.