October 31, 2013 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Supporter Newsletter October 2013

This month's newsletter announces the UK's first surveillance debate in parliament, updates our Privacy not Prism campaign, ORG's response to the copyright consultations, our role in upcoming cryptoparties and more.

ORG win: First UK surveillance debate

Today the UK Parliament will be holding its first substantial debate on mass surveillance since the first leaks back in June. This is a big win for ORG as MPs have heeded our calls for a debate in Parliament. 

The MPs Tom Watson and Julian Huppert from ORG's Advisory Council, as well as Dominic Raab MP, have secured a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament today on 'oversight of intelligence and security services.'

Politicians in America and Europe have held debates on oversight of intelligence agencies, yet so far the UK Government has worried more about whether the newspapers should have said anything at all. Now Parliament is fulfilling its job of ensuring that intelligence agencies’ powers are necessary and proportionate.

If you have a chance, call your MP this morning and ask them to take part in the debate. There’s still time for you to call your MP and let them know that this issue matters to you!

You can watch the debate live from 1.30pm.

Privacy not Prism: £20k in 2 days

Thank you for your overwhelming support of our Privacy not PRISM campaign! We crowdfunded £20k to fund a legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights against the UK Government’s surveillance of our data – and hit that goal over one weekend!

Not only did you help us raise the money in record time, but you also proved that there is real public urgency towards stopping the mass surveillance situation, and you busted the myth that the UK just doesn’t care.

The challenge is being jointly taken by ourselves, Big Brother Watch, English PEN and Internet campaigner Constanze Kurz. We are demanding that the Government be held accountable to human rights law.

You can read more about it on the Privacy not Prism site, which is still accepting donations to further support the campaign.

Whistleblowers in the digital age

Former GCHQ director, David Omand, investigative journalist Heather Brooke, and Malcolm Rifkind, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee: just a few of those who give opinions on Edwards Snowden and the morals of whistleblowing in our latest video. 

The magnitude of Snowden's revelations has raised a huge debate around the world about the balance between privacy and security, but also about whistleblowers and their rights. The UK law protects the majority of whistleblowers, but doesn't cover the security agencies' workers who deal with secret information, as in Edward Snowden's case. 

Still from whistleblower video of Francesca West

UK Government: Both Open and Shut?

This Friday is the Open Government Partnership London summit. The OGP is a project to bring people dedicated to transparency from across the world to make governments more accountable.

ORG will be leading a panel on transparency and surveillance. We will be calling for Government to back its basic commitment to ‘open society' by extending that idea to surveillance. We will look at how these issues relate and how to protect human rights while enhancing openness.

The panel will be led by Mort Halperin (OSF) and includes Ian Brown  (Oxford Internet Institute), Jim Killock  (ORG), Jacqueline Peschard (Federal Institute for Access to Public Information, Mexico), David Banisar (Article 19) and a representative of Brazilian government.

Join a cryptoparty!

Cryptoparties are a global movement: each one is an open event to help people protect their computer and their private data. They are aimed at complete beginners so you don’t need any technical knowledge to come along. We’d like to help more of these events take place so everyone can understand how to protect themselves from surveillance.

ORG will be speaking, taking part and helping people to run several of these events in coming months:

-The ORG-Manchester group will be running one of these events joint with their local Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) branch on Saturday 7th December, Mad Lab.

-At the London Crypto-Festival, Saturday 30th November, Wendy Grossman and Ian Brown, members of our Advisory Council will be speaking.

-Brighton cryptofestival (kid-friendly!) join the ORG-Brighton group and Lighthouse for talks, workshops and kid events at Sunday 1st December, Lighthouse, Brighton.

We’d like to encourage you to start one going too! We’ll help you promote it and arrange speakers and provide advice if needed.  

Join ORG today!

ORG have had some major victories in the last 2 months: We are small, growing and effective. Join and become part of a movement fighting to protect fundamental rights like privacy and free speech.

NOW is the time to join ORG

YOU are what makes our work possible. Without support from donations we wouldn't be able to do any of the above work.

 Help us keep this work going and take on greater capacity to fight on your behalf.

We can't do the necessary work we do without support from digital rights activists like yourself

Please join here now.

Thank you!

Quick fire ORG actions

-We responded to President Obama’s review board on the scale of NSA surveillance. We responded to emphasise the need to respect non-US people's privacy rights and to restrain untargeted, mass surveillance.

-We responded to the IPO's copyright in Europe consultation, raising concerns about DRM, disabled access and parody.

-We criticised the Culture Committee’s recent copyright report as one-sided and simplistic, reducing the debate to either liking the creative industries or not.

- We responded jointly with the Open Knowledge Foundation and Open Corporates to an HMRC consultation on releasing the VAT Register with general support for the notion.

-Our parliamentary and policy update is back and running. If you want to stay up to date on all digital policy news, subscribe here.

ORG out and about

Open Government Partnership Summit, 1 November, 2pm
ORG will be leading and participating in a panel on open society and surveillance.

London Crypto-Festival
, Saturday 30 November 11am - 4pm
Presentations from ORG Advisory Council members Wendy Grossman and Ian Brown.
New academic building
Goldsmiths University of London

, Wednesday 13 November 18:30
All welcome! Visit their meet-up page to vote for the topic!
The Graduate, opposite the central library.

TA3M activism meetup, Monday 18 November
Javier Ruiz, ORG, will be speaking at this meetup about our privacy not prism legal challenge.
Lighthouse, 28 Kensington Street, Brighton BN1 4AJ