Supporter Newsletter: March 2019

From a shocking new development in our complaint against Google’s advertising practice to a breakthrough in our legal challenge against mass surveillance, February was a month to remember.

ORG in the Grand Chamber

When the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on a challenge to mass surveillance brought by ORG and others last autumn, the judgment didn’t fully acknowledge the unlawful nature of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. In February the case was referred to the ECtHR’s Grand Chamber where a definitive judgment is expected on the compatibility of mass surveillance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Data and Democracy
Open Rights Group is excited to announce its new data and democracy project! To confront digital threats to the democratic process we will tackle new proposals for electronic voting across the UK and challenge the misuse of voter data by political parties. For a preview of what’s to come, read our critique of the government’s new report on disinformation and fake news.

Age verification regulator no show
As the UK’s anointed porn regulator, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of age verification technology on adult websites as required by the Digital Economy Act 2017. Set to come online in April, ORG held a roundtable with age verification providers to discuss concerns over the technology’s glaring lack of privacy protections. Even though we made a point of holding the meeting close to their offices, the BBFC still didn’t show.

AdTech complaints heat up
Before you see an ad online, chances are your personal information has been shared with hundreds of advertisers bidding for your views. ORG filed a joint complaint with other privacy advocates against Google and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) claiming this bidding system violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The plot thickened in February when new evidence was submitted allegedly showing that IAB was aware their bidding system was “incompatible with consent under GDPR.”

ORG raises concerns about legality of Police Scotland’s digital search and seizure
Off the back of reporting in The Times on Police Scotland’s intention to get further advice on the legality of their forensic kiosks, Open Rights Group (ORG) wrote to the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing to raise their concerns. ORG continued to force the point home that a full review of the legal basis for Police search and seizure of digital devices in Scotland should be carried out. In response, the Sub-Committee has written to members of the Cyber Reference Group (which ORG is a member of), including the Faculty of Advocates, Privacy International and the Information Commissioner’s Office to get their opinion on the proposed legal basis.

Unsettling the Home Office
Open Rights Group and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) called on the Home Office to improve the process of automated data checks within the EU Settlement Scheme, which all EU nationals must use to apply for settled status post-Brexit. The report asserts the Home Office’s duty to increase transparency and ensure meaningful oversight of the opaque process.

Article 13 powerplay
The European Conference of Presidents will vote this Thursday in Brussels on a request to fasttrack the final MEP vote on the EU Copyright Directive to 12 March. If successful, international protests against upload filters planned for 23 March will become obsolete. Stay tuned for ORG’s call to action.

Open Rights Group has local chapters across the UK. Find one near you.

ORG Edinburgh
ORG’s executive director Jim Killock reviews the current state of digital censorship in the UK.
Wednesday 13 March
The Melting Pot
5 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 PR

ORG Birmingham
ORG’s executive director Jim Killock reviews the current state of digital censorship in the UK.
Monday 18 March
Birmingham Open Media (BOM)
1 Dudley Street, Birmingham B5 4EG

ORG Cambridge
Monthly meetup to discuss digital rights and ORG's campaigns.
Tuesday 5 March
The Castle Inn
38 Castle Street
Cambridge CB3 OAJ