Supporters Update - July 2007


  • 'Should we trust electronic elections?' - ORG @ Autumn 2007 Party Conferences

ORG will tour the 3 major English political party's conferences this Autumn, holding fringe events to spread the message that e-voting and e-counting systems are unwelcome developments in UK democracy. Ministers and representatives from the Electoral Commission have pledged to join ORG on stage for a lively debate on electronic elections. But we need your help. We need you to invite your MPs, MEPs and councillors to discuss the issue and share their views. Please write, phone, email and generally badger your political representatives into attending our events and finding out more about the issues. Full details for your invitations are listed on our website, as well as guidelines of how to get your representatives' attention.

Party conference events are restricted to holders of expensive tickets, but ORG couldn't miss this opportunity to meet up with local supporters, so we're organising meetups in Brighton, Bournemouth and Blackpool. Please get in touch if you'd like to join us, especially if you know a suitable venue. In addition, we need local volunteers to help flyer conference delegates and encourage them to join our fringe events. Please hit reply and let us know if you can help out.

  • Government declines to support term extension. Sorry, Cliff.

The powerful campaign to extend copyright protection for sound recordings has failed to convince the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (3), who have refused to lobby the European Commission for further increases in the term of right holder control. The beginning of the end for intellectual property maximalism? We hope so. Certainly this is a sea-change in government policy because requests for extension are typically granted. To reflect these weighty developments, we have updated our briefing pack and will be putting it out to partner groups in Europe for translation, in readiness for the rights holders taking their claims to the European Commission.

  • iPlayer

The BBC's iPlayer launched on 27 July. But license fee-payers not using Windows XP are so far excluded from the service, because it uses Windows-only DRM. The Open Source Consortium are threatening to take their complaint that the BBC is distorting the market in favour of Windows to European competition authorities. But the BBC could avoid this mess entirely if it listened to consumer groups and market signals, both of which indicate that DRM's days are numbered. Over 13,000 people have already signed the e-petition - if you feel strongly about the issue please add your name to theirs. Come along to one of Defective by Design's coordinated protests outside BBC offices in London and Manchester on 14 August (8). And if you feel inspired to write to your MP on the issue, ORG's submission to the BBC Trust should provide you with some good arguments to make.

  • Government consultations - tell us what to tell the Government

To ensure our submissions are well-informed and reflect your opinions, please share your views on two consultations recently added to the ORG wiki. The Information Commissioner is taking views on his 'Data Protection Strategy' - this is core ORG terittory so we know you'll give us lots to go on. In addition, the Cabinet Office is interested in how the Government can improve their approach to consultations. Their 'Effective Consultations' document contains a range of suggested policy options that we'd love to know your opinions on.

Press relations

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.

BBC Digital Planet - 'Facebook Fears' (9:20 > 18:56) Tired eyes but hungry for digital rights news? Have a listen to Becky debate the privacy concerns associated with Facebook, and how she manages her own data online to minimize these risks.

Mac User - 'Government rejects call for recording copyright extension' Fantastic news: Government backs our Release the Music campaign and the Gowers Review by denying record industry calls to extend monopoly control over culture. ORG notes that extension would give a windfall to rights holders whereas allowing recordings to enter the public domain benefits the wider economy.

Computer World UK - 'Opposition MPs warn on 'piecemeal' data protection changes' Brown's recent legislative programme includes powers that enable yet more sharing of our personal information between public authorities. We argue against tacking these powers onto miscellaneous legislation and in favour of open debate on their impact on the relationship between citizen and state.

ZDNet - 'BBC iPlayer launch on, despite crack' Despite the appearance of tools to strip iPlayer content of its newly-patched Microsoft copy protection, production companies still believe DRM can guarantee their future revenues. David Meyer is unconvinced by BBC statements that justify the use of cracked DRM in the iPlayer, launched 27 July. ORG condemns this approach, and notes the decision by EMI and Apple to drop DRM is better practice.

BBC News - 'E-voters not boosting turnout' The BBC's political research editor, David Cowling, debunks the myth that electronic elections increase turnout. ORG's call to suspend trials until the technologies are proven reliable is reported together with comments from the Electoral Commission, who are calling on Government to publish an electoral modernisation 'roadmap'.

Lots more articles listed on the ORG wiki.


  • The Office of Public Sector information and the Free Our Data campaign will set up a web channel through which the public can request public data in the form they want it. Neat-o!
  • BBC's Backstage seek your views on their new Digital Media Initiative

  • Hans Rosling is a Swedish Professor of International Health. Check this inspiring presentation on new uses for public data, and the associated need for new business models.

Thanks (A new section where we acknowledge the efforts of the kind people that help keep ORG running)

Thanks to Jason Kitcat for continuing his work on electronic elections. Thanks to Adam and Lemon for saving ORG's butt when our server flipped its lid. Adam gets double-thanks for setting up the machines in our new office. Felix and Austin get big thanks for procuring said office machinery. Thanks to the Writers Corps (especially Ryan and Richard) for answering Becky's call for copy. Thanks to Tim for hosting CC-Salon (like an old hand). Kevin deserves high praise for finding us space to host AV objects. Thanks to Jordan, Fearghas and the other Scots supporters for reminding us to always reach out beyond the M25. Hearty thanks to the Board and Advisory for sharing expertise and insights. Last but not least, thanks to Glyn for always being on-hand and on-point.

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