Supporter update - October 2008

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

- Recruiting the next Executive Director - - Piracy vs Obscurity - - Freedom Not Fear - - Sound Copyright - - Consultations - - Volunteering - - Press - - Events - inc. date for ORG Xmas party - - Mini Links - - Thanks -


  • Recruiting the next Executive Director
  • After two great years as Executive Director of ORG, Becky Hogge will be moving on early in 2009. This means we're recruiting for the next Executive Director. The job advert and full job description are on the website. Please push the word about this vacancy out across your networks and particularly to any suitable candidates you may know. We're all immensely proud of the progress Becky has made both on specific copyright and surveillance campaigns, and more generally in building a financially sustainable basis for ORG. We wish her the very best for her future projects.

  • Piracy vs Obscurity with our patron, Neil Gaiman
  • In a spooky crypt in old London town, Neil Gaiman spoke to an audience of nearly 200 about piracy from the perspective of a creator, what it means to be one of the tribe of readers, and why most people discover their favourite authors for free. The talk was really well-received, as were the raffle prizes. Thanks to the ORG volunteers who made sure everyone had a grand evening. An audio recording of the event is available.

  • Freedom Not Fear: the Big Picture on Parliament Square
  • ORG teamed up with No2ID on a sunny Saturday in Parliament Square and constructed a 4x5m collage of the hundreds of photos of UK surveillance state ephemera you uploaded to Flickr. The huge, Big-Brother-inspired image expressed the concern that although we each see only incremental invasions of our privacy, put together, these creeping changes constitute a wholesale shift towards a society predicated on fear rather than freedom. If you want to use the image in your own projects, you can get it from the wiki.

  • Make sure MPs hear your views on copyright term extension: get in touch today
  • The European Parliament is preparing its opinion on the European Commission's flawed proposal to extend the term of copyright protection for sound recordings. Your MEPs need to know that their voters are concerned and paying attention so get in touch. To help you we've prepared a guide to lobbying your MEPs and a briefing pack. Lobbyists for term extension are already at work but your voice is stronger than any professional advocate. We can't overstate it: the best thing you can do to stop this is to let your MEPs hear your side. See the blog for extensive links to resources to help you protect the public domain.

  • Consultation submissions: Data Retention and illicit p2p
  • This month we've produced submissions to two government consultations on the Data Retention Directive and illicit p2p filesharing. We criticised the Data Retention Directive in relation to basic human rights and the uncertainty it introduces to UK law, suggesting we should follow Austria and other EU member states in refusing to implement it. Our p2p submission argues that it's music industry innovation that will slow illicit filesharing, and not legislative intervention.

  • Next volunteer meeting / ORG Day
  • If you want to get more involved with digital rights and ORG then your first stop should be a volunteer meeting, where we run through current volunteer works and dish out new tasks. We have close to 100 regular volunteer contributors. Please put your name up on the wiki if you intend to attend. The next meet will be at 1830 on Wednesday 19 November, at our office, which is 7th floor, 100 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8AL. As usual, we'll have the IRC and conference call running so that non-locals can participate. This volunteer meeting is timed to coincide with ORG Day, which now falls every year on 19 November to celebrate the formaton of Open Rights Group. Please come and get involved! If you're short on time then just come along to The Duke for a drink at around 2000.

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.

  • openDemocracy - 'Digital privacy wars'
  • Guy Aitchison discusses two approaches to Phorm's behavioural marketing techniques. For Peter Bazalgette, advertising is vital to expand the internet economy whilst privacy campaigners fail to see the importance of commerce. ORG responds to this criticism by showing why online commercial relationships need to be private too.

  • PC Pro - 'E-voting vetoed for 2009 election'
  • Stuart Turton reports on Michael Wills', minister of state for the Ministry of Justice, formal announcement that Government "does not plan to introduce e-voting for the 2009 European or local elections." ORG is pretty darn chuffed that our long-running campaign to highlight the risks with electronic elections is being taken seriously.

  • Macworld - 'UK slows down plan for sweeping electronic surveillance'
  • Jeremy Kirk covers Home Office plans for legislation to support a database of all communications data, which is being delayed to allow for proper public debate. ORG is pleased the issue will be consulted on because "creating this database would drastically alter the relationship between the citizen and the state, handing national security and law enforcement agencies immense power to invade the private lives of ordinary people."

  • The Guardian - 'Democracy needs spontaneity'
  • John Ozimek comments on our contribution to Freedom Not Fear, an international day of activities publicising the gradual drift towards surveillance socieites. Our involvement, for John anyway, was more of an arts event than a demonstration because the police required "reasonable notice". Democracy and the political process are seriously at risk when spontaneous assemblies and marches are outlawed.


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

  • 'Onemedia Unconference '
  • Onemedia is a pioneering unconference where you set the agenda to find the cross industry business opportunities that matter to you, to increase your revenue and develop your business model. London, 13 and 14 November 2008.

  • ORG Xmas Party
  • The ORG Xmas Party will be on Saturday 20 December. The only guarantee at this advance stage is for yuletide jocularity. Reserve your ticket now and send in any suggestions for party games and related bagatelle.

    Update: We've had to take the tough decision to call it off, because the low uptake from both sponsors and guests means that if we went ahead, ORG would be at risk of making a significant financial loss.

    We do however have two alternative nights out for you. Hopefully you'll be able to make at least one of them, so we can celebrate the festive season together and look forward to a fab year ahead for ORG.

    First, ORG is a co-host for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Community Christmas Party, which you are all cordially invited to. It will be at The 'Quad Bar' of the London School of Economics' "Three Tuns Pub", Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE on Thursday 11 December from 1800 to 2300. RSVP to gus at privacy dot org.

    Second, the ORG staff will be delighted to meet supporters who are still up for an Xmas drink on Saturday 20 December from 1930 at our local, which is The Duke - - 7 Roger Street, London, WC1N 2PB. Mail supporters at openrightsgroup dot org if you're coming so we can me sure there's enough space.

    Mini-links: Intercept Modernisation


Thanks to Felix, Glyn, Sheila, Casey, James and Patricia for running the Gaiman event. Thanks to Sam, Rowan and Casey for putting together our "data debacles" tool. Thanks to Chris and Adam for working on ORG's facebook profile. Thanks to Adam for doing lots and lots and lots ... and lots. Thanks to Tom, Chris, James, Harry and the many others who worked on the Freedom Not Fear demo. Thanks to James for stuffing envelopes. Thanks to Matt N and Glyn for newsblogging. Thanks to Jonty, Chris, Casbon and Matt P for getting into the supporter database. Finally, thanks to the Board and Advisory and our hard working staff for all they do.