We announced our official 'Observer' accreditation from the Electoral Commission last week, as well as clearance to observe server hosting locations for Swindon, Rushmoor, Shrewsbury and Sheffield. Best of luck to our 25-strong volunteer mission who will be on the ground - sporting some very nice, bespoke ORG T-Shirts (see below) - this week.
Also, plans for more e-voting events later this year are taking shape. There will be a Westminster date in June to launch our technical evaluation of the trials, as well as 3 separate events at the Party Conferences in September. If anyone can help us locate conference facilities in Brighton, Bournemouth or Blackpool, or indeed wants to volunteer to lend a hand when we come to town, just hit reply and get involved.
If you came to our party this month you will have seen Glyn sporting our fabulous new ORG T-Shirt. The full range - including (as suggested by you) bigger logos, black Ts and lady sizes - is now available at our online merch shop. Each purchase from the shop includes a modest (£5 or under) contribution to our war-chest. Besides these fine togs you can also buy ORG mugs and mousemats, so you can impress your place of work with your good taste and philanthropy. As always if you have suggestions to expand or improve the range, just hit reply and let us know.
We are working towards submissions for various government consultations. The Home Office need our help to implement the EU Data Retention Directive, which obliges public communications providers to keep records of our phone calls and other communications. If you are concerned about the privacy implications of this Directive, or about onerous burdens imposed on business, please jot your thoughts onto the wiki. Also, the Dept. for Constitutional Affairs are trying to emasculate the Freedom of Information Act. If you think government should be more concerned with accountability than saving the blushes of MPs and civil servants (under the pretence of saving a few quid), then vent on the wiki. Next comes the House of Lords' Consitutition Committee's inquiry into 'the impact of surveillance and data collection upon the privacy of citizens and their relationship with the state'. In addition, we have wiki-pages for Home Office reviews of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (perhaps relevant in terms of increasing use of DNA / fingerprinting databases) and child pornography laws (perhaps relevant in terms of computer-generated pictures).
Free Culture UK and the Open Rights Group plan to hold a monthly ccSalon event in London, starting in June. CC Salon is a monthly event focused on building a community of artists and developers around Creative Commons licenses, standards, and technology. Salons are already established in San Francisco, Johannesburg and Berlin. All are invited, especially those interested in Creative Commons, Free Culture and the application of Open Source concepts to Art, Media, and Music.
We need visual artists, musicians and anyone else who publishes works under an open license. We also need people whose cultural practice involves appropriation, quotation, remixing, sampling, collage (i.e. reuse / recycling). If you'd like to exhibit, perform, or otherwise take part in this event, please email for details. Tim also wants sponsors and practical assistance for running the event, so drop him a line if this sounds like you.
Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving them an alternate point of view on current issues.
The Guardian - 'Council poll monitors fear e-vote fraud' David Hencke criticises legislation which rather confounds our e-voting mission, by neglecting to guarantee access to council servers and e-voting centres. Jason laments that although "all of them have agreed in principle that we can come ... we are relying on grace and favour agreements on where we can go."
International Herald Tribune - 'France to choose president with help of electronic voting' Thomas Crampton reports on the use of e-voting across Europe and the globe, despite the technology's technical and usability shortcomings. Jason is quoted on a number of points, including the propensity for simple human error to skew and invalidate election results and the government's apparent lack of concern for solving security failings in the democratic process.
The Guardian - 'Expanding Networks' Megan Griffith sees opportunities for voluntary groups to expand into the online domain, where marginal communities can take advantage of the fluid, participative culture to avoid hierarchical coordination in order to grow extraordinarily quickly. The Open Rights Group (and the US-based Genocide Intervention Network) are given as exemplar of these processes!
New Statesman - 'Righting Digital Wrongs' Mike Butcher blogs on the Open Rights Group's nomination in the Advocacy category at this year's New Statesman New Media awards. He likes our our grassroots legitimacy in particular, and says we punch well above our weight. Follow the link to add your glowing comments to our nomination.
The Times - 'E-votes put wrong name next to the Labour rose' Sam Coates reports on a human-error in the Rushmoor (Hampshire) internet voting experiment that threatened to invalidate the election by displaying a Conservative candidate's name next to a Labour rose. The story also notes our efforts to raise awareness of the trials' vulnerability to crackers.