Tag Archives: open rights group

The Independent View: Lib Dems have cause to be concerned about the data retention bill

web snoopers charterMany Liberal Democrats are congratulating themselves on a ‘sensible compromise’ on the emergency data retention bill, DRIP. I am afraid they are deeply wrong, and want to explain a little about why.

The first, most important point, is that DRIP doesn’t answer any of the points made by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) about data retention laws. Most importantly, they ask for an end to blanket retention, saying that retention must relate to specific threats, and be confined by specific criteria, such as a time period, …

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The Independent View: An invitation to ORGCon 2013: the UK’s leading digital rights conference

It becomes clearer every year how technology affects our rights and civil liberties in all sorts of ways. Businesses or governments try to block access to more information online. States make ever more demands for powers to surveil their citizens. Some of the laws governing what we can say on the Internet are too strict, with people punished severely for saying something online that would not be an offence if it was said in the local pub.

Open Rights Group’s national conference ‘ORGCon’ is the place to learn about, discuss and debate how technology affects our freedoms and democracy in these …

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The Independent View: The battle for privacy in the EU and how the Liberal Democrats can help

Last year Liberal Democrats took a principled stand against the “Snoopers’ Charter” – more formally called the draft Communications Data Bill. This added up to a defiant, important defence of citizens’ privacy rights in the face of a concerted (and ongoing) effort by the Home Office to undermine them.

Right now there is another, equally important, battle for our privacy going in the European Parliament. The same principles are at stake. Once again Liberal Democrats have a really important role in determining what sort of law we get.

The “Data Protection Regulation”, proposed by the European Commission and now being considered by …

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The Independent View: Social media – no longer an easy target

Open Rights Group, alongside 9 other human right groups including Amnesty UK, Liberty and Index on Censorship, yesterday wrote to the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP. We were responding to the Prime Minister’s comments that the Government will “look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality”.

The letter was written to coincide with a meeting that took place at lunchtime yesterday between the Home Secretary and Twitter, Facebook and Research in Motion, to discuss what that …

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Independent View: Website blocking should not be on the cards

Lib Dems are wisely taking a detailed look at whether website blocking would lead to excessive legal claims and censorship of legitimate material, or if it could be employed to reduce copyright infringement.

Ofcom, too, has been asked to look at whether the policy is “practical”. We at Open Rights Group met them to say: no it isn’t. And the collateral damage to people’s rights is likely to be very high.

As it stands, copyright holders can already go to Court to ask for websites to be blocked, as the result of previous lobbying. But they don’t use this legal

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Review of London elections calls for changes in law ahead of 2012

The London Assembly has called for changes in the law ahead of the 2012 London Mayor and Assembly elections, following a review of the lessons from last year’s council and general election in London.

Two issues are likely to meet widespread support, namely the problems of voters being intimidated and people being left still queuing when polls closed at 10pm. Both issues were significant problems in specific parts of London last year.

The report says:

The difficulties identified include most significantly a number of instances where there were queues at polling stations and people were unable to vote. Our report highlights the confusion in applying the electoral law to enfranchise the voter that led in some instances to a breach of election rules. We therefore recommend a change in electoral law to prevent a repeat of the disenfranchisement of so many people in London and across England. Without a change in the law there will need to be new guidance to Returning Officers as to how they can better prepare to deal with any late surge of voters.

A further significant issue addressed in this report is how to stop the intimidation of voters that is taking place at some polling stations. Clear advice to polling staff and consistency in how that advice is acted upon is necessary to tackle this unacceptable behaviour.

City HallMore controversial is likely to be the report’s call for a repeal of the legislation introduced last year to ensure overnight counting of votes for the general election.

The bigger issue that was not covered by this review, by virtue of its rermit, is the mistakes that were made in counting votes at the last London elections. As I wrote at the time:

In the immediate aftermath of this May’s London Mayor and Assembly elections, it became clear that some mistakes had been made during the count. Some Mayor votes in Merton and Wandsworth were omitted from the count, and in addition the checking process was flawed as votes were reported from more wards than exist in London.

Both the Open Rights Group and the Electoral Commission identified further problems, with my summary of the Electoral Commission’s verdict still valid:

In other words, “the numbers don’t add up; we don’t know why; it might be bad, it might not be; but there wasn’t a proper audit trail so we’re all left clueless.”

Counting the votes correctly and having a proper system for checking that the results are right is by far the most important change that needs to happen for the 2012 elections.

Vote of confidence? Lessons Learned from the 2010 General and Local Elections

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Ofcom publishes draft code for internet piracy

At the end of last week the regulator Ofcom published a draft of the code to be followed for taking action against online copyright infringement following the passage of the Digital Economy Act.

As Rory Cellan-Jones points out, some aspects of the draft code deal with concerns raised during the passage of the Act. In particular, the code only applies to ISPs with over 400,000 customers, thereby excluding operators of Wi-Fi networks such as cafes and universities who had been worried they would be forced to incur significant costs tightly policing their networks.

The code also confirms one of the concessions …

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Open Rights Group flashmob serves disconnection notice on UK Music #DEBill

DEBill flashmob at UK Music
Filmmaker Obhi Chatterjee, one of the team behind the Lib Dem Spring Conference emergency motion on Freedom, creativity & the internet, describes the experience:

It was while following #DEBill on Twitter on the train that, with just over an hour to go, we discovered where we had to be at 12:15. In front of London’s Dominion Theatre, near Tottenham Court Road. Bring a police helmet and clipboard if poss.

My father had struggled to understand how we could have left home knowing only that we had to be in central London at a certain time. We had aimed for Trafalgar Square.

I recognised Open Rights Group‘s Executive Director, Jim Killock, from his Facebook photo. A few people were distributing imitation police helmets and clipboards. A journalist was asking people why they were there.

The sheet on the clipboard explained what we had to do and where we had to go: the Soho offices of UK Music, a short walk away.

Once there, we were to wander up and down outside the building, looking officious. Perhaps everyone was too good-humoured and smiling a bit too much for that.

Still, there were quite a few photographers and video cameras around to record the event.

Staff heading out of the building for lunch didn’t seem to be very conversational. I can’t imagine they mistook us for MI5 …

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Digital Economy Bill latest – two cheers for the LibDem team

As Liberal Democrat Voice has reported in depth over recent weeks, there was a surge of debate around the party’s response to the Digital Economy Bill, leading to our open letter from PPCs, and the emergency motion passed at conference. Great joy.

Then it all went quiet.

There has of course been a little matter of the Budget. MPs and candidates have been, quite rightly, out on the hustings and the doorsteps. But if our Parliamentary party were otherwise engaged, the blogosphere was not. The dedicated campaigning of the Open Rights Group was joined by the 38 Degrees lobby. They have objected not only to the content of bits of the Digital Economy Bill, but also the obvious concerns about its process.

If nothing else, this Bill has highlighted to a new generation of voters the urgent need for Parliamentary reform. The unelected second chamber; ridiculous rush, horsetrading and lack of debate of the washup; the way a Government elected with a minority of the vote can railroad through legislation – all of this must change.

The Open Rights Group anti-disconnection rally took the issue from the screen to the streets, and I was delighted to be invited to speak on behalf of our party. As I told the crowds, we started campaigning for Freedom of Information against a Tory government; now we are campaigning for free exchange of information under Labour. When you deal with a death, there is a cycle of emotion from grief through anger to acceptance. When it comes to the death of our freedoms under Labour, as Liberal Democrats we may be aggrieved, we are angry, but we will not accept it.

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Open Rights Group call to action

This week, for the first time, public opinion was tested on the government’s proposals to disconnect people from the internet for copyright infringement.

Open Rights Group commissioned a YouGov poll, which came back with some remarkable findings.

The political implications are profound, if our poll is to be believed. While Labour have certainly got this wrong, we are yet to see any UK parliamentary party fully backing the public’s instincts shown in this poll. Perhaps the Liberal Democrats will be ready to pick up the challenge.

In our poll, 42% said that disconnection, should it be applied to them, would disrupt their …

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David Lammy demonstrates how not to carry out a public consultation

The Open Rights Group blog has the story, pointing out how the deadline for comments on the Digital Britain Report was followed so swiftly by a press release that it’s hard to believe that the views submitted by people to the consultation were really considered:

Last Thursday the Open Rights Group along with many others made a submission in response to the Digital Britain Report. In that submission, we said:

This action has the potential for much harm. We call on the final Digital Britain report to
reject the idea of a ʻrights agencyʼ.

Less than 12 hours later,

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Carnival on Modern Liberty. Part the Third.

Roll up, roll up and then carefully insert the filter tip into this, the third Carnival of Modern Liberty! (I don’t know whether it’s just mounting hysterical terror, but I find my puns getting steadily worse with each passing week as the government unleashes some fresh illiberal hell on us.)

Anyway, should you need a bit of refresher scaring, today’s BBC report on some recent recommendations of the Lords’ committee for constitutional reform is as good a way as any to remind yourself of what is at stake here:

Electronic surveillance and collection of personal data are “pervasive” in British society and threaten to undermine democracy, peers have warned.

The proliferation of CCTV cameras and the growth of the DNA database were two examples of threats to privacy, the Lords constitution committee said.

Those subject to unlawful surveillance should be compensated while the policy of DNA retention should be rethought.

Posted in Big mad database and News | Also tagged | 4 Comments

How leaked was my data?

The Open Rights Group have a questionnaire which tells you right here.

Yours truly got off lightly, with only one certain leak (I knew that TKMaxx shoe habit would come back to haunt me) and no possible leaks. But as one of society’s carless, propertyless and largely moneyless non-stakeholders I am atypical. The moral of the story seems to be don’t drive, don’t get ill, don’t have a mortgage, don’t seek employment with any public service and don’t allow your children to go on TV (and definitely don’t have children). Oh, and on no account

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How many votes went missing in London? The Electoral Commission weighs in

In the immediate aftermath of this May’s London Mayor and Assembly elections, it became clear that some mistakes had been made during the count. Some Mayor votes in Merton and Wandsworth were omitted from the count, and in addition the checking process was flawed as votes were reported from more wards than exist in London.

Neither of these errors were serious enough to suggest the wrong people were elected, but the next batch of problems to come to light, thanks to a report by the Open Rights Group, were on a much more significant scale:

Although the glitches are

Posted in London and News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments
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