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 myriad ways. It’s an annual event featuring the biggest and best speakers on ‘digital rights’.

This year the conference will be on Saturday June 8th at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in central London. Full details are available on the ORGCon website.

We’re delighted that two legends of digital rights will be delivering the keynote talks.

John Perry Barlow co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is a former Wyoming rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist. His legendary “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”, written in 1996, set the digital rights field alive.

Professor Tim Wu coined the phrase ‘network neutrality’ and wrote ‘The Master Switch’, a highly acclaimed book that looks closely at who controls the Internet.

As well as our two keynotes, ORGCon will feature an array of leading technology, legal and policy experts. Privacy International will tell us about the new digital arms trade in surveillance technology. The Intellectual Property Office will be there to explain the most recent changes to copyright. There’ll be talks about new privacy laws, protecting children online, free speech on the Internet, and how to have creative careers in the digital age.

Liberal Democrats have been heavily involved in many of these issues. From grassroots activists up to the Deputy Prime Minister, for example, Lib Dems played a pivotal role in getting the Home Office to drop the illiberal and oppressive Snooper’s Charter from the Queen’s Speech. At ORGCon we’ll be discussing the latest on how to win this ongoing fight over surveillance laws with the authors of our recent report “Digital Surveillance: Why the Snooper’s Charter is the wrong approach”.

It is only the engagement of citizens, activists and party members that will ensure technology helps increase our freedoms and improve our democracy – rather than undermining both.

So do come along, and help us put the world to digital rights! Full programme details and tickets are available at the ORGCon website.

Anyone who signs up to donate to ORG at least £5 per month will get a free ticket to ORGCon and a free copy of “The Master Switch” by Tim Wu, keynote speaker at ORGCon2013. See our website for details of this offer.

The Independent View‘ is a slot on Lib Dem Voice which allows those from beyond the party to contribute to debates we believe are of interest to LDV’s readers. Please email [email protected] if you are interested in contributing.

* Peter Bradwell is Policy Director at Open Rights Group, a digital rights campaign group.

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