Supporters Update - March 2007


  • Election Watch 2007 going strong - more volunteers needed

The response to our call for volunteer election observers has been fantastic - we've already got five of the eleven e-voting pilot areas covered. But we still need more, and it's not (quite) too late to put yourself forward. If you live in or around one of the pilot areas (or are willing to travel there) and you’d like to help out, please let us know by signing up to our location-specific pledge. And if you have volunteered already, please send us your completed registration packs soon so we can accredit you with the Electoral Commission.

You'll receive full instructions on what will be expected of you on the day, as well as evaluation criteria tailored for the different trials. We’ll expect you to travel around the pilot area during the day, and to turnaround a quick report for us afterwards. And the good news is, we've just received a grant of £24,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, to help towards our e-voting campaign. Part of this money will go towards funding presentations on e-voting to each of the major party conferences in the Autumn - which will help us make sure the information we gather during the missions reaches the right people. Thanks, JRRT!

If you missed our February e-voting events, take a tour of our ever-growing e-voting minisite, which now includes videos of the UCL lectures and panel discussions.

  • Support ORG! (and Party) (...and Raffle!)

Our first proper party will be a chance for ORG supporters to meet each other, to chat to volunteers and staff and celebrate how far we’ve all come since ORG started. There’ll be 'open culture' DJs (think public domain records + mash-ups, versions and remixes galore), CC visuals and goodie bags (music, software, merch and discount vouchers), as well as special guest appearances from Danny O’Brien and Dave Rowntree. We need you to spread the word about the party, and help boost the ranks of ORG supporters. It starts at 6pm on Wednesday 11 April at Bar Kick, E1, and lasts until 11pm. Please sign up via Eventbrite.

Prizes for the raffle include Neil Gaiman’s (signed) keyboard, signed copies of Bruce Schneier’s Beyond Fear, Lessig's Code v2, and the Gowers Review, £150 of O'Reilly book vouchers, a set of a dozen Beatpick compilations and a couple of extra special Doctorow donations: a signed author’s galley of his next novel, Little Brother (forthcoming in 2008), and the opportunity to be written into it! We’ll make the draw on the night of 11 April. All advance purchases (we’ll close the Paypal interface an hour or two before the party) will be assigned a paper ticket, then added together with tickets sold on the night. Advance raffle tickets are £2.50 through Paypal.

  • DRM - your digital rights don't need managing

The battle to discredit and marginalise DRM continues with Becky and the IFPI debating the issue on BBC Click - well worth watching her in action. Also, our volunteers and advisers are drafting a short, plain-English guide to the technical reasons why DRM is doomed, to be presented to recording industry bodies. We all know DRM is no basis for a business model, hopefully we can help the record execs see the light.

  • Consultation fever!

This month we made contributions to no less than three public consultations, and began work on another two. Our work on the BBC's iPlayer consultation was led by the Advisory Council - thanks to all contributors but especially Alan Cox (and his wife!). We also endorsed the excellent work by Ross Anderson and colleagues at the Foundation for Information Policy Research on the NHS' centralised electronic patient records. And in conjunction with the Open Knowledge Foundation and Free Culture UK, we submitted to Ofcom's thoroughly progressive Public Service Provider consultation document.

If you want to help our consultation responses, we'll be considering the UK transposition of European data retention laws and also the 'Surveillance Society' in the next month or so. Just reply to this email to indicate your interest.

Events 7th UK Network Operators Forum: 3 April (Manchester). An open forum for operational, technical and engineering information exchange related to backbone networking technologies and practices.

ORG Volunteers meeting: 4 April (London). Come and find out how you can help with ORG's ongoing activities.

MiniBar: 20 April (London). A social evening in East London - organised by Open Business - which offers a chance to snaffle some free beer while discussing p2p, Creative Commons, web applications, social networking and general Web 2.0 mayhem & fandango. Computers, Freedom, and Privacy: 1-4 May (Montreal, Canada). Debate the future of computing, privacy and freedom in the online world with key representatives from government, business, education and non-profits; including the legal, law enforcement, security, media, consumer and hacker communities.

Press We jump at every chance to talk to the media and connect them with experts on issues that matter to our supporters. These are some examples of our influence this month.

Evening Standard, Andrew Gilligan: 'E-Vote security fears are being ignored' The current trial of insecure voting technologies is driven by the economic interests of vendors, and ignores expert academic advice by proceeding without proper safeguards. Our e-voting co-ordinator, Jason Kitcat, notes that hacking these machines is a trivial exercise.

Register, Lucy Sherriff: 'Dutch FOI disclosures reveal the odd business of evoting' A programmer associated with the discredited Nedap vendor seems to think he's in charge of how Dutch citizens cast their vote. Jason Kitcat comments that despite this 'very worrying' revelation, the Dutch government - following the October 2006 TV broadcast of the Gonggrijp hack - are now engaged in proper scrutiny. Would a similar exercise be useful over here?

Guardian, Roy Greenslade: 'Changing Media Summit - The wrongs of rights' Brief but nicely weighted piece reporting the perspectives of different interest groups in the DRM debate. Ian Brown, of our Advisory Council, points out that record executives accept sales are inhibited by DRM, and that unprotected formats are the future for digital distribution of music.

See more of our press coverage in March on the wiki


  • What's going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? The Blindside blog and wiki is your place to share evidence, insights and concerns about the technical and social risks of the information age. From Kable and the team behind Ideal Government.