Supporters Update - September 2007


  • ORG plays with the big boys

Our 'Should we trust electronic elections' conference fringe tour is now in full swing. Lib Dem conference was a rip-snorter, with the packed room and our expert panel engaging in lively, wide-ranging debate. At Labour conference we also hosted a high quality debate, and even convinced some to stray from the party line. We have audio recordings from both events for your easy listening pleasure, linked from the events page (1), and photos on the ORG flickr pool. Next up is the Conservative conference, including a Blackpool supporter meet-up the evening of Monday 1 October.

  • Government IT and software procurement

Dr John Pugh MP, a long-time open source advocate who spoke at our Lib Dem fringe, will debate 'government IT and software procurement' with Treasury ministers in the House of Commons from 12.30 - 13.00 on 9 October. If this is an issue that matters to you, write and advise your MP about this debate. Ask that they attend and report back to you on the outcome, perhaps also give them a particular question with which to contribute. Tools to help you - as ever - are available at and our 'MP letter-writing guide' (6). Also, you can watch the debate online through Parliament Live.

  • Ready or not!

Its been so hectic at ORG HQ, what with all our campaigning, that we've been slacking slightly on the house-keeping, and not checking that supporters are keeping up their payments. But we're coming for you soon! Once conference season is finished, we'll get in touch with those who have fallen behind. If your standing order or paypal subscription is not reaching us, for whatever reason, then please do sort it out because its your generous donations that keep ORG going. Just hit reply if you have any procedural concerns.

  • Consultations

We submitted to two Government consultations this month. Our response to the Cabinet Office's 'Effective Consulation' made two simple core recommendations - to publish consultation documents in open, accessible formats and to keep a centralised, standardised repository of information about consultations past and present. Our response to the Information Commissioner's Data Protection Strategy pushed for a data breach notification law in addition to stronger enforcement of the Data Protection Act, particularly against business. Our new tool, Consult, was very useful for gathering together all our comments on the consultations.

  • Nuffield DNA Report

This month the Nuffield Council on Bioethics recommended major reform of the National DNA Database, emphasising proportionality between law-enforcement benefits and ethical values such as liberty, autonomy and privacy. The headlines echo our own submission to Nuffield. We're looking forward to Government's forthcoming evaluation of the database's aged statutory foundation (the PACE Review).

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. Unfortunately, some of our finest press moments were offline this month so we cannot share links with you.

BBC News - ORG was interviewed about Microsoft's failed appeal against an EU competition law decision. Even the lawyers couldn't wriggle out of, first, blocking interoperability and, second, denying other media player's access to market by bundling their own player with Windows. The decision is good news for consumers and business.

Government Computing magazine - 'Technology for the people' Mark Say's interview with Becky focused on the case for a 'bottom up' approach to developing public sector IT. The broad article discussed our concerns for government surveillance and e-voting, but also our positive outlook that improved availability of public sector information will empower citizens with greater engagement and raised expectations.

Music Week - 'Latest Elvis release lights the fuse on 50-year copyright time bomb' ORG was asked whether it's fair game to release Elvis' public domain catalogue. Michael had his moment of music press glory, with his comment that "Copyright is a bargain. In exchange for releasing their sound recordings, rights holders are granted exclusive control for a limited period. When this ends, the works join Shakespeare and Shelley in the public domain. As the 20th century's explosion of popular culture enters the public domain, more artists and entrepreneurs will build on these works."

Web-User - 'Govt steps into iPlayer row' Ben Camm-Jones reports on Government's response to a 16,000-strong petition demanding that iPlayer be made available on all platforms, which essentially deferred responsibility to the BBC Trust. Becky's quote continues to press for the service to be opened to users not running Windows and made accessible to all.


  • Upload, edit and share your videos. We'd appreciate your thoughts on A useful tool for ORG?

  • The Talis Community Licence has a new name, face and text. The Open Data Commons Database licence, as revised by Jordan Hatcher, is available in draft and seeks your input.


Thanks to Robin and Chad for putting us in touch with local political parties. Thanks to Adam for continuing to play with our office network. Thanks to James for completing our supporter payment app. Thanks to William and Jason's families for borrowing us their menfolk for conference season. Thanks to Harry, David, Glyn and Sheila for getting involved with Consult. Thanks to Jordan for all manner of legal expertise. And, as ever, thanks to the Board and Advisory Council for sharing their wisdom.

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