Supporter update - March 2009

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

- Blackout Europe - - Block Phorm - - Stop Guv Monitoring Facebook - - Doctorow and Stross: Resisting the all-seeing eye - - Sound Copyright - - Press - - Events - - Thanks -

But before we get started, if you're on Facebook, please become a fan of Open Rights Group.


  • Blackout Europe
  • Proposals at the EU parliament to limit access to the internet across Europe are to be voted on today. The new law would permit your broadband provider to impose "conditions limiting access to and/or use of services and applications". Downloading via P2P will likely be forbidden, plus blacklists and whitelists are on the hidden agenda, but the proposals also covers copyright enforcement (3-strikes) and network-level filtering. They threaten fundamental freedoms for all Internet users. Please use contact your MEP, use our images on your profiles and if you're on Facebook, join the dedicated group. Once we know the results of today's committee vote, we'll produce more detailed commentary and recommendations.

  • Block Phorm
  • We've asked major websites to block Phorm from intercepting their data. To help us pile on the pressure, please take some action. If you’re on Facebook, join the group; blog and tweet the #blockphorm message; Opt your website out - and let us know that you've done so by mailing blockphorm at openrightsgroup dot org; email your favourite sites, FAO Chief Privacy Officer, using our standard letter.

  • Stop Guv Monitoring Facebook
  • Guv wants legislation that lets them monitor who you talk to on Facebook. Similar legislation in the US has been abused by the authorities time and time again, with websites revealing not just who users are messaging, but the contents of the messages. The authorities are going beyond the designated purpose of terrorism prevention, and instead use it to routinely screen job candidates for even the lowest risk government and local authority jobs. The proposal is part of the 'Intercept Modernisation Program'. Please sign the petition and, if you're on Facebook, join the dedicated group.

  • Doctorow and Stross: Resisting the all-seeing eye
  • With the rise of the database state and firms profiting from user-profiling, it's vital to resist surveillance and ensure the integrity of your digital personality. From technologies like PGP and Tor to the arguments that will convince people - friends and family as well as media and politicians - to watch out for their digital rights, this event is your anti-surveillance 101. Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross will share the how and why of controlling your data, moderated by Ian Brown. More details and signup on Eventbrite.

  • Sound Copyright
  • Following postponement of the full plenary vote, representatives from the European Parliament, Commission and Council will meet this week to hammer out a consensus amid the controversy surrounding copyright term extension. We've prepared some super-simple info to help you act now to oppose copyright extension, so please write or phone your MEP and use our buttons on your blog or site homepage.

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. We also did a couple of local radio spots this month, over plans for Guv to snoop on your social networking, but those aren't archived for your reading pleasure.

  • BBC - 'Big websites urged to avoid Phorm '
  • ORG has sent open letters to the chief privacy officers at Microsoft, Google/Youtube, Facebook, AOL/Bebo, Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay requesting they protect user privacy - and their own brands - by opting out of the Webwise system. The letter is also intended to highlight that the system intercepts data posted to social network services.

  • The Register - 'Facebook encourages ISP customer protests over Phorm'
  • Facebook's privacy chief urges "customers of BT, Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media who are unhappy about their ISP's plans to work with Phorm in monitoring and profiling web use to 'make their feelings known'".

  • paidContent:UK - 'EC’s 95-Year Copyright Plan Blocked, Artists Want Bigger Share Of Digital'
  • It seems that Guv is backing-off the 95-year extension of copyright term for sound recordings but will support a 70-year deal that gives artists a bigger share of digital download revenue. Open Rights Group remains opposed to any such extension.

  • ZDNet - 'Rights group attacks 'database state''
  • Commenting on the release of the Database State report, ORG said "Public sector databases are a disgrace. The most threatening examples, including ContactPoint, the DNA database, the National Identity Register and some of the major NHS systems, are incompatible with our human rights and should be scrapped immediately."

Events The very best way to stay updated on ORG-esque events is with our Upcoming group. Here's some events happening in the next month or so:

  • Infosecurity Europe 2009: "[W]here information security professionals address the challenges of today whilst preparing for those of tomorrow at the No.1 industry event in Europe." London, 28-30 April
  • Futuresonic: "[A]n international festival now in its 13th year occupying the orbits of both digital culture and music." Manchester, 13-16 May.
  • Thinking Digital: "[A]nnual conference where the world's greatest thinkers and innovators gather to inspire, to entertain, and to discuss the latest ideas and technologies." Newcastle, 13-15 May


Thanks to Tim, Chris, Rowan and Adam for the still-not-quite-public Reclaim Your DNA site. Thanks to Francis for taking on org-law. Thanks to Harry and Sian for the wireframes session. Thanks to Dominique for the comms work. Thanks to Glyn, Lemon and Adam for being around. Thanks to the Board and Advisory for their ongoing nourishment. Thanks to anyone missed off this list.