Supporter Newsletter: September 2017

As summer draws to a close ORG is gearing up for Parliament’s upcoming debate of the Data Protection Bill. We are also preparing to host ORGCon in London in early November. We hope you can make it! Thank you for staying engaged and supporting ORG’s campaigns to protect our digital rights.

ORGCon 2017

Mark the calendar. ORGCON 2017 will be on Saturday 4 November at Friends House on Euston Road in London. There will be a second smaller event on Sunday 5 November in Shoreditch.

This year’s theme is the Digital Fightback. We are putting together a fantastic list of speakers from the worlds of politics, technology and law. Confirmed so far are Graham Linehan, Noel Sharkey, Helen Lewis, Jamie Bartlett and Nanjira Sambuli.

Tickets will go on sale later this week so watch out for the email or announcement on Twitter. If you’re not a member of ORG, now is the time to join and get a free ticket. Existing members will also get discounted rates. If you’re interested in volunteering on the day, please email volunteers@openrightsgroup.org to find out more.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Private Internet Access who are helping ORGCon to happen through their generous sponsorship. Private Internet Access offers high speed anonymous VPN services, enabling encrypted communications and access to blocked websites.

We hope to see you there!

Data Protection Bill

Parliament will debate a new data protection law this autumn, which will implement the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This welcome development will give people more control over how their data is collected and used. 

Unfortunately, the Government is opting not to allow privacy organisations to lodge independent complaints over data protection, instead relying on individual citizens to navigate highly technical data laws on their own.

In response ORG will be campaigning for the right to lodge complaints. We will also ask the Government to explain exactly how UK data protection rights will endure after Brexit. Once the UK leaves the EU, it is unclear whether these data laws will remain intact.

We’ll also be challenging provisions in the Bill that could threaten cryptographic research and development. ORG Board member Alec Muffett has written more about the dangers of criminalising data set re-identification in our blog.

ORG staff appeared on news outlets including BBC Radio 5 live to discuss the legislation. ORG staff were also quoted in articles by New Scientist and Computer Weekly.

Online hate crimes

The Crown Prosecution Service has announced they will treat online hate crimes as seriously as offline crimes. ORG agrees the CPS should bring prosecutions against those who use social media to commit hate crimes. This is also preferable to leaving companies to police their users’ actions. 

Yet there remains a danger that an imprecise definition of online hate speech could potentially chill free speech. How will the authorities decide what is hate speech and what is merely offensive or in bad taste?

Read ORG legal director Myles Jackman’s caution against a strict interpretation of the CPS’s open-ended guidelines and the implications for free speech online.

Facial recognition tech at Notting Hill Carnival

ORG opposed the use of mobile facial recognition cameras at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. Facial recognition technology may have racial biases and can lead to discriminatory policing because it can misidentify innocent people. Sky News reported that the technology produced dozens of false matches and an erroneous arrest at Carnival this year.

The cameras also violate the privacy of everyone at the carnival by recording people’s faces. The police did not discuss their plans with carnival organizers and we do not know what will happen to the data that is collected.

With no independent oversight or approval from Parliament, it is unclear that any law allows the police to use facial recognition technology.

Open Rights Group is working with other civil liberties and race relations groups to call on Metropolitan Police to stop their discriminatory plans, and to start a dialogue on the use of this technology.

Quick Fire News

Reforms to defamation in Scotland 
The Scottish Law Commission has published a Bill to reform the law on defamation in Scotland. The Bill has been welcomed by most for its effort to bring the law into the 21st century, but there is still work to be done on improving it, including narrowing the scope of takedown notices courts will be able to issue after cases. Read ORG’s response to the Bill.


ORG Scotland - Free screenings of Internet's Own Boy
Local Groups in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow are putting on free screenings of The Internet’s Own Boy, the life story of programmer, writer, political and internet activist Aaron Swartz, an internet pioneer and free speech campaigner. Aaron Swartz was involved in the development of Creative Commons, Reddit and the campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

There is a confirmed date for Glasgow at the Centre for Contemporary Arts on 2 October
Aberdeen and Edinburgh dates and venues will follow shortly. For more information about the events and other Scotland updates follow @ORGScotland, sign-up for the Scotland-discuss mailing list, or contact scotland@openrightsgroup.org. Hope to see you there!

ORG out and about

Freenode Conference
28-29 October 2017
Bristol UK
Hear ORG legal director Myles Jackman speak

September 05 ORG Cambridge: Monthly Meet Up
Tuesday 5th September 2017
7:00pm-8:30pm
The Castle Inn
38 Cambridge Street
Cambridge CB3 0AJ

September 05 ORG Worcester: Inaugural Meet Up
Tuesday 5th September 2017
6:30pm-8:00pm
The Kings Head (Sidbury)
Worcester WR1 2HU

September 25 ORG Birmingham: Cybersecurity for ‘real people’
Monday 25th September 2017
6:30PM-8:30PM
BOM (Birmingham Open Media)
1 Dudley Street
Birmingham B5 4EG

New Corporate Supporter

We’d like to thank our newest corporate sponsor Cypherpunk for their generous support.