Supporter Newsletter: March 2015

This month we launched our Scotland Office, a new local group in Oxford and #digitalrightsmatter, a day of fundraising and awareness for our campaigning work.

Digital Rights Matter

Thanks for supporting our work and taking part in our campaigns.

2015 has had some amazing moments for digital rights already. We took down the threat of a sneaked in Snoopers’ Charter and we’ve ensured that national ID cards for Scotland won’t be happening any time soon. We’ve also had some fantastic membership growth, which means big things happening at the election:

1. ORG’s ‘civil liberties’ hustings will be going ahead in early to mid April in: Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester. We’ve now got other local groups on board including 38 Degrees and Friends of the Earth.

2. ORG are excited to be working with Democracy Club to improve how candidates, campaigners and voters communicate! We're building a website that aggregates questions from organisations and puts them to candidates.

We are almost at 300 new supporters this year! We’re so close to our goal, and on Thursday 16th March we're giving our membership one big boost: holding #digitalrightsmatter day. We’re asking people to join ORG on one day for that last push to 300 new members.

But for everoyne to take notice, we need to all share it together at once. Celebrate your support of ORG's work and raise awareness of our one day fundraiser for our campaign work by signing up to our Thunderclap and joining ORG.

More on how to show your support.

Launching ORG Scotland 

Over the last year we’ve been working away on raising funds to found ORG Scotland. We listened to our supporters who saw that there were unique threats to their rights in Scotland, and that no one was campaigning on them. We’re now excited to announce that we will are hiring a new member of staff, who will be based in Edinburgh.

We’ve also launched our first campaign in Scotland. We were concerned that planned changes to the Scottish NHS database would make the government able to turn it into a national register of Scottish citizens

Hundreds of people used our tool to respond to the consultation on these proposals. We’ve held several public events, got lots of media coverage, and our Director Jim Killock has been in Edinburgh speaking to MSPs this week. Our concerns are now being raised in Holyrood. It shows exactly what ORG is here for – spreading a message and bringing about change on an issue that matters to everyone but few were talking about.

This is why joining matters. Your membership of ORG has made a huge difference, so thank you so much for your commitment to digital rights.

Privacy not Prism case update

On February 6th the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) found that the practice of secret intelligence sharing between the UK and the US was unlawful (prior to December 2014) because the policies governing these arrangements were secret. Ironically they became legal after December because the Snowden revelations ensured they were no longer secret! These policies were made public during a case brought by Privacy International, Bytes for All, Liberty, and Amnesty International.

Now that this ruling has been made it also means our Privacy not Prism case which challenges intelligence sharing and GCHQ’s TEMPORA programme, will also be going forward. It was pending at the European Court of Human Rights, awaiting the outcome of an IPT case.

It is the first time the IPT has found the UK’s intelligence services to be in breach of human rights law. However, the IPT has not gone far enough. GCHQ’s own TEMPORA programme of mass interception is clearly both unlawful and disproportionate. We hope the European Court of Human Rights will go further and find that mass surveillance breaches our human right to privacy.

Data protection leaks

Appalling revelations that our data protection rights are being completely undermined in Europe came out this week.

The EU Data Protection Directive has been unravelled by business and security lobbying, leaked documents show. In 2012 we campaigned for the legislation to modernise our data protection rights, something which was urgently needed as more big digital companies gather masses of information on our lives.

However when European Parliament's version of the Directive reached the Council (made up of heads of state) the states attacked key protections like:the right to be asked for consent, the right to know how your data is used and the right to object to your data being used. For example, national governments say that a business which has permission to use your data should be allowed to pass that on again to another company, without telling you.

The legislation now puts our personal data at risk where it was intended to secure it.Joe MacNamee of EDRi said the regulation is now at risk of becoming “an empty shell” and have provided a full analysis of the leaked text. We must campaign to ensure that it's Parliament's version of the new rules that gets passed.

Local Groups news

We are very happy to announce that a new Local Group has been formed by our fantastic supporters in Oxford! They will holding a launch event in late March with ORG Executive Director Jim Killock - Reserve Your Place. Get event updates on MeetUp and chat with people near you on their Mailing List.

If you are not in one of our 4 main hustings locations (Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester) you can still help us, as we are encouraging supporters to ask questions about ORG issues (copyright, censorship and mass surveillance) at other local hustings. You can start seeing who is participating by discussing it on one of our Local Mailing Lists.

Quick Fire News

CITIZENFOUR by Laura Poitras brings home the scale of the surveillance undertaken by the intelligence agencies behind our backs. We were delighted that its achievement as was one of the most remarkable scoops in the history of film-making was recognised by the Oscar for 'best documentary'. You can read why the Oscar matters here.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (who examine issues related to the security agencies and governmental intelligence activities) are expected to release their report, the 2014 Privacy and Security Inquiry on 12th March. This report could be influential on future surveillance reform. Although we and many other NGOs and civil society groups gave submissions to the inquiry, and were expert witnesses during the early stages it may be used in election campaigning to propose furthering the surveillance. We’ll be keeping an eye on it and sending more information on what it contains and means for us all next week.

ORG out and about

The Surveillance Society, Scottish Public Law group, Thursday 5 March: 5.45
Elizabeth Knight, Legal Director, will be speaking on the question Do we live in a surveillance society?
University of Strathclyde.

Stop TTIP! How Greens and campaigners are working to stop the EU-US trade deal, Saturday 7th March 4.00 - 5.15
ORG Campaigner Ed Paton Williams will be speaking at the Green Party conference, session open to the public.
ACC Building, King's Dock, Liverpool, Merseyside.

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

Being Watched,Saturday 14th March 4, all day.
Lydia is leading a workshop for young women on who is making the decisions about the privacy settings on Facebook and social media.
Birley Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Bonsall Street, Manchester, M15 6GX

ORG-Oxford Monday 9th March 6.00
This will be the first meeting of an Oxford group and is open to anyone interested in finding out more about the digital issues that affect our future, hosted by Jim Killock.

Mass Surveillance, Liberty and Activism with ORG Director Jim Killock, Wednesday, March 25, 2015
7:15 -
Executive Director Jim Killock will give a talk followed by a Q&A with questions from the audience about mass surveillance, liberty and activism.
Quaker Meeting House

10 St James Street, Sheffield

Assemblies for Democracy,
28th March,London
11th April, Glasgow
18th April, Manchester
from 10am.
Assemblies for Democracy are a series of free events aiming to bring together diverse views about how we can develop democracy. There will be sessions on the emergence of surveillance & open space to propose your own talk.

Get Involved

As the parties puts surveillance on the agenda for the general election, it’s our job to stand up for your rights online. If you have a moment to spare can you help us by donating to support our work, becoming a member of ORG or signing up to our Thunderclap