Supporter Update - February 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Sign up for monthly calls to action - - The Convention on Modern Liberty - - Sound Copyright: Government abandons evidence-based policy on copyright - - Volunteering for ORG - - Press - - Events -


  • Sign up for monthly calls to action
  • We want you all to sign up to our new ORG-Action list, which we'll use to coordinate more grassroots activism in support of digital rights. Roughly once or twice a month, we'll ask you to help with a simple, targetted action, like signing a petition, or contacting an MP to win their support. The actions will help us make greater public and political impact, but should also be fun for you. You'll receive an invite to join the list about the same time as this email. Sign up now and get ready for some action.

  • The Convention on Modern Liberty
  • Modern Liberty, on Saturday 28 February 2009, hopes to bring as many people together to see what common ground can be reached in defence of our freedoms. See the website for useful materials and a live webcast of the London events. ORG is hosting a panel session to discuss privacy in an age where the companies we as consumers choose to do business with online (as well as some we don’t) know more about us than ever before.

  • Sound Copyright: Government abandons evidence-based policy on copyright
  • ORG is still busy telling MEPs in Europe and the UK that the evidence is against this copyright extension but with a plenary vote set for late March the EU will force-feed it to us all anyway unless you make some noise. We urge you to again write to your MEPs and share the video of Becky Hogge speaking against the "fairy tale" of copyright term extension. Also, academics have voiced concern that the UK looks to be changing its mind.

  • Volunteering for ORG
  • One of our main organisational aims is fostering a community of digital rights activists and we now have close to 100 regular volunteer contributors, with many more on the fringes. If you want to get more involved then please find a job that suits your skills on our public list of tasks or come along to our next volunteer meeting. Please note there’s a dedicated volunteer mailing list and Facebook group.

Press relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

  • BBC - 'Warning over 'surveillance state'
  • The House of Lords constitution committee warn that increased state and private sector surveillance threatens the right to privacy, which is "an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom". ORG urged the government to "reassert" its control over the use of data, and introduce "privacy by design ... built into systems right at the start."
  • Ars Technica - 'Phorm: damn the EU, full speed ahead!'
  • The EU intends to take legal action against the UK Government unless it properly investigates the secret trials, conducted in conjunction with BT, of Phorm's targeted advertising technology. ORG argues the system, which seeks consent from the user but not from the websites they use, may be in breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the law governing interception of communications in the UK.

  • Telegraph - 'The evidence is against a copyright extension on music, but the EU will force-feed it to us anyway'
  • As the proposal to extend sound copyright makes progress through the "EU legislative sausage making machine", ORG argues it will harm the economy and innovation, calling for Government to listen to academic evidence rather than the hyperbole of vested interests.
Events The very best way to stay updated on ORG-esque events is with our Upcoming group. Here's some particularly exciting events happening in the next month or so:
  • Rewired State: National Hack The Government Day - "Calling all people who make things. We're going to show them [,Gov,] how it's done." London 7 March
  • The Public Domain: enclosing the commons of the mind - "Is the public domain as vital to knowledge, innovation and culture as the realm of material protected by intellectual property rights? James Boyle thinks so and visits the RSA to call for a new movement to preserve it. If we continue to enclose the “commons of the mind”, Boyle argues, we will all be the poorer." London, 10 March
  • Maker Faire UK - "The first UK Maker Faire will take place in Newcastle 14-15 March 2009 as part of Newcastle ScienceFest - a 10 day festival celebrating creativity and innovation."