Supporters Update - May 2007


  • ORG's recruiting! We need volunteers for the Board

It's hard to believe, but the Open Rights Group is nearly two years old! ORG's Board have started the organisation on a steady course, and now they're refreshing their ranks with new folks interested in dedicating their time to building a sustainable digital rights organisation.

So we're looking for applications to become a non-executive member of ORG's board. It's a position that requires serious dedication. But it's a position that promises significant rewards too, not least the chance to play a major part in the success of a young campaigning organisation that is already making a significant impact (if we do say so ourselves). The position is unpaid, although out-of-pocket expenses will be refunded.

If you're interested in applying, take a look at the detailed job description and hit reply with any questions. The closing date for applications is 22 June.

  • E-Voting - Observer mission accomplished; Westminster report launch 20 June-

Our volunteer election observer team went to work as planned on 3 May. Some even stayed up all night to eyeball the trials. Thanks to everyone who pitched in and thanks again for submitting in-depth reports on the procedural and technical difficulties you encountered. As you read this, Jason Kitcat is fastidiously processing all the evidence to produce our final report. It will be launched in Westminster on 20 June. If you have a spare minute, please write and invite your MP to come and learn why e-voting and e-counting do not belong in our electoral process.

  • Consultations - Deadlines fast approaching for 'surveillance state', data retention and FoI

As mentioned last month, we are preparing submissions for a number of consultations and need your opinions. The House of Lords' Constitution Committee is inquiring into how the collection and use of surveillance and other personal data affects the relationship between citizen and state. You have only a few days left to share your views.

Meanwhile, the Home Office is consulting on the implementation of the controversial Data Retention Directive. Are you affected by increased police access to communications data? Are you concerned by the associated costs to businesses, or implications for privacy? If so, register your perspective on the wiki. Also ongoing is a consultation on the Freedom of Information Act. If you object to Whitehall penny-pinching at the expense of the public interest, express yourself on the wiki.

This month, led by Alan Cox, ORG responded to the Hansard Society's 'Parliament for the Future' consultation. Our submission recommends the use of open standards as a basis for parliamentary tech projects, as well as enhanced public access to raw parliamentary data. ORG also endorsed a response, authored by a coalition of consumer and digital rights groups, to the EU's second intellectual property directive, which is well worth a read.

  • MPs ignore economics and support copyright term extension - Please write to your MP

Reports commissioned by the Treasury and the European Commission oppose term extension for sound recordings. The Gowers Review advises against extension on economic grounds - its author has even said evidence supports term reduction. Yet some MPs are unconvinced, and May saw both an Early Day Motion and a Select Committee report recommending term extension.

It is vital you write to check your MP's position on this issue. If you believe strongly that term should not be extended, ask that your MP tells Government how you feel. If you need inspiration, check out ORG's Release the Music briefing pack.

  • Tracking what's upcoming for ORGers

We've created a group on Upcoming, to help us keep track of all the dates that are important for the ORG community. Relevant dates range from conferences, public consultations and parliamentary debates on pertinent laws, to launches of DRM-laden technologies, important anniversaries and dates when recordings from high profile artists like Cliff Richard move into the public domain. That's a rough sketch of what we're looking for, but its also up to you to decide what events deserve our attention, and to help us plan for them ahead of time.

If you want to suggest an event or track our calendar, please join our upcoming group. You can also send your tip off to upcoming[at]

  • ccSalon London - 28th June 2007

ORG, together with Creative Commons and Free Culture UK is sponsoring the London ccSalon, and the first event will be held on 28 June.

The ccSalon is a monthly event focused on building a community of artists and developers around Creative Commons, and has been running with great success in San Francisco, Berlin and Johannesberg. All are welcome, especially anyone interested in Creative Commons, copyright, Free Culture, Open Source, art, media, and music.

28 June will see Tom Reynolds (Random Acts of Reality), Elizabeth Stark (Free Culture USA) and Jonathan Roberts (FreeMeDVD) take to the stage, along with DJs. There's plenty more planned for future events, and we'd love to hear from anyone interested in participating, whether by performing, exhibiting work, or giving a talk or presentation. Please email Tim Cowlishaw if this sounds like you.

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.

The Register: 'Observers forced to 'negotiate' for evote access' Lucy Sheriff writes on our difficulties in accessing servers and other e-voting mechanisms. Jason confirms that we could not in fact observe some parts of the vote.

The New Statesman: 'Pity Poor Cliff' Sian Berry is unconvinced by calls for copyright term extension, and cites ORG's analysis of this issue. The freedoms to copy, mix and share are more valuable to the creative economy than an unreliable pension plan for a small group of artists.

Swindon Advertiser - 'Voting shambles blamed on rush' Sarah Hilley reports on the lack of adequate planning as one cause of Swindon's difficulties at the recent local elections. Local officials share her criticisms, which Jason Kitcat indicates were also felt in other pilot areas.

The Guardian - 'Google may use games to analyse net users' Bobbie Johnson and David Adam uncover the search giant's plan to compile - and then sell on to advertisers - psychological profiles based on in-game characteristics. So players who've been in session for hours on end may be targeted by delivery food services, and players who spend a lot of time nattering get mobile phone adverts. Suw Charman expresses concern that these databases could be appropriated for less benevolent purposes.

More ORG-flavoured articles listed on our wiki.


  • 6 June: Amnesty event to discuss the struggle against internet repression and celebrate freedom of expression. Features Cory Doctorow, Jimmy Wales, Kevin Anderson, Richard Stallman and many others.

  • Keep your eye out for news about LUGRadio Live 2007, taking place this July - Becky will be there talking about ORG, and our very own Alan Cox is headlining, along with Chris diBona (Google) and Nat Friedman (Novell).

  • Ever have trouble explaining copyright? This video mashup does it better than most.

The ORG privacy policy is online at

Thank you!