Supporter Newsletter - What we won in 2018

Thanks to members and supporters like you, Open Rights Group (ORG) scored big wins in 2018 across our core issues of digital privacy, government surveillance and free expression online.



2018 saw two important court victories for ORG against the UK’s mass surveillance programme. Three years (and several courts) after ORG intervened in a challenge to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), the UK Court of Appeals agreed it was illegal. DRIPA aimed to legalise blanket data retention for police investigations. In a separate ruling in September, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the UK’s mass interception programmes have breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

In September, letters from ORG supporters reinforced ORG’s submission to a Government Consultation on a new biometrics commissioner in Scotland, with a large majority of respondents in favour of establishing a new commissioner. The consultation marked an important step toward establishing an independent Scottish institution equipped with the right tools for oversight of 21st century surveillance technologies.

A pivotal year for DATA PROTECTION

When the 2018 Data Protection Act’s unjust “immigration exemption” threatened to undermine gains won from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ORG teamed up with the3million to challenge the Government in court. ORG teamed with Projects by IF to create Data Rights Finder, which is a tool that empowers the public to use their new GDPR rights. ORG also provided resources for victims of the Cambridge Analytica / Facebook data scandal.

Following outcry from thousands of ORG supporters over weak privacy rules, the implementation of age verification technology for adult websites (mandated by the Digital Economy Act nearly two years ago) has been postponed until at least April 2019.

Fighting the rise of automated CENSORSHIP

In a win against Internet censorship, the UK Supreme Court agreed with ORG’s call for greater safeguards against the abuse of web blocking orders. If trademark holders are able to demand blocks at no cost, it would open the door to large-scale blocking of many kinds of websites. ORG also helped to prevent the fast-tracking of Article 13 in the EU Copyright Directive, which would introduce upload filters that harm free expression in their blind pursuit of copyright enforcement.

ORG’s tech tool Blocked - which lets you easily check if your websites are blocked by UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) - increased our understanding of Europe’s censorship landscape by adding probes in a growing list of countries including Finland, Denmark and Poland.

Contributions from ORG members and corporate sponsors made 2018’s wins possible, along with the local organisers and activists who met us online and at over 60 events across the UK. Today’s supporter donations ensure our future work will pack a punch in 2019. If you haven’t already, please donate today while contributions are still matched.

Thank you for protecting digital rights.