We published our Elections Report this month, presenting our observations of and investigations into the 3 May elections. The report raises serious concerns regarding the use of e-voting and e-counting technologies in statutory elections and questions the government's preference for voter convenience over confidence and trust in the electoral process. It earned ORG its first mention in Parliament, and our Westminster launch event saw MPs, civil servants and all manner of politicos rub shoulders with online activists and computer security experts. Thanks to all the volunteers whose hard work and dedication made this watershed campaign possible.
ORG was invited to the iCommons iSummit in Dubrovnik, Croatia this month to talk about its work to the international community of Creative Commons enthusiasts gathered there. Becky shared a stage with Cory Doctorow, Erik Josefsson of EFF Europe and Fred Beneson of Free Culture. There was great interest in the work ORG did around the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property last year, with many people asking how they could form "ORGs" back in their home countries. Larry Lessig, announcing his intention to retire as the movement's spokesperson, endorsed ORG's work in the UK.
ORG submitted a short response to the House of Lords Constitution Committee's consultation into the impact of surveillance and data collection upon the privacy of citizens and their relationship with the state. We argued that legislative safeguards against the mismanagement and misue of private data are poorly enforced.
Becky attended the UK Intellectual Property Office's stakeholder meeting on IPRED2, an EU directive which could turn some forms of intellectual property infringement from a civil to a criminal offence. The legislation has passed the European Parliament and is now with the Council of Ministers, meaning member state governments will soon have their chance to input on the legislation. There was some consensus at the meeting that the legislation should only apply to counterfeiting and piracy, yet it was not clear what each of the participants meant by piracy, and the contentious definition of "commercial scale" infringement may well go unchallenged. We'll keep you updated as to how the negotiations progress. Its also worth following EFF Europe's Copycrime blog.
ORG now has offices in central London! Although there is some antiquated kit knocking around, we could really use your spare hardware to form a slick office network. Please scour your dusty recesses for unused monitors, boxes or servers that would do the job, and help preserve ORG's bank balance. No doubt the community has plenty of excess hardware that could be put to better use, so please email your suggestions to email@example.com.
You may have noticed that Chris Adams interned with us for the last few months, bringing energy and visual flair to ORG's day-to-day functions. He's now moved on to pastures paid (leaving a significant gap in all our lives) so we're looking for more of the same. Applicants will preferably be able to work with us in central London, and the internships offer a great opportunity for anyone looking to move into the not-for-profit/campaigning sector. The work is varied - part-drudge, part-creative - but depends largely on the individual's skills. The post is voluntary and unpaid, although we will provide a per diem to cover expenses. If you'd like to take the pulse of digital rights advocacy in the UK, hit reply and attach a CV and details of availability.
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 - 'E-vote 'threat' to UK democracy' - Auntie amplifies the concerns expressed in ORG's elections report, leading with our warning that "British democracy could be undermined by moves to use electronic voting in elections".
The Daily Mail - 'Serious concerns that e-voting will lead to more spoilt votes' - This article reflects our damning indictment of the 'chaotic scenes' experienced at polling stations in Sheffield, Swindon and Scotland on 3 May. We particularly enjoyed the under-stated remark that 'e-voting and e-counting technologies have a poor track record'.
Guardian - 'Counting error almost gave Labour Scottish election victory' - Bobbie Johnson and David Hencke also picked up on our hot-off-the-presses report, emphasising that the deeply flawed e-counting system trialled in Scotland nearly gave power in Holyrood to Labour. Only last-minute intervention by an alert SNP candidate prevented declaration of the wrong result by poll-workers, who'd been awake for 35 hours!
The elections report did well with local press too, see the ORG wiki for reports from Sheffield, Swindon and Norfolk, as well as more coverage from New Scientist, net.wars, Slashdot, Channel 4 and The Register.
And just to show we're no one-trick pony, here's a couple of other ORG-related stories in the press:
Out-law.com - 'Rock star says piracy battle is lost' - Dave Rowntree, recent recruit to ORG's Advisory Council, discusses major record label difficulties in the digital age. As always, he's strongly critical of DRM: "it was doomed to fail because the people who it was designed to stop ... could easily bypass it".
Guardian - 'Schools warn of abuse risk from IT database' - ORG teamed up with the Independent Schools Council, Action on Rights for Children and FIPR to publicise privacy and security concerns associated with the Contract Point database, which holds sensitive information on 11 million children in England, for the purpose of helping children's services work together. James Meikle reports the 'potentially leaky and inadequate system' needs much improvement before launch, scheduled for 2008.
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