Open Rights Group
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|Purpose||Law, Advocacy, Digital Rights|
The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based organisation that works to preserve digital rights and freedoms by campaigning on digital rights issues and by fostering a community of grassroots activists. It campaigns on numerous issues including mass surveillance, internet filtering and censorship, and intellectual property rights.
The organisation was started by Danny O'Brien, Cory Doctorow, Ian Brown, Rufus Pollock, James Cronin, Stefan Magdalinski, Louise Ferguson and Suw Charman after a panel discussion at Open Tech 2005. O'Brien created a pledge on PledgeBank, placed on 23 July 2005, with a deadline of 25 December 2005: "I will create a standing order of 5 pounds per month to support an organisation that will campaign for digital rights in the UK but only if 1,000 other people will too." The pledge reached 1000 people on 29 November 2005. The Open Rights Group was launched at a "sell-out" meeting in Soho, London.
The group was honoured in the 2008 Privacy International Big Brother Awards alongside No2ID, Liberty, Genewatch UK and others, as a recognition of their efforts to keep state and corporate mass surveillance at bay.
- To collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations.
- To nurture a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts.
- To preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world.
- To provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists.
- To raise awareness in the media of digital rights abuses.
Areas of interest
The organisation, though focused on the impact of digital technology on the liberty of UK citizens, operates with an apparently wide range of interests within that category. Its interests include:
Access to knowledge
- Crown copyright
- Digital Restrictions Management
- Software patents
Free speech and censorship
- Internet filtering
- Right to parody
- s. 127 Communications Act 2003
Government and democracy
Privacy, surveillance and censorship
- Automatic Vehicle Tracking
- Communications data retention
- Identity management
- Net Neutrality
- NHS patients’ medical database
- Police DNA Records
ORG has a paid staff, whose members include:
- Jim Killock (Executive Director)
- Javier Ruiz Diaz (Campaigner)
Former staff include Suw Charman-Anderson and Becky Hogge, both Executive Directors, e-voting coordinator Jason Kitcat, campaigner Peter Bradwell, grassroots campaigner Katie Sutton and administrator Katerina Maniadaki. The group's patron is Neil Gaiman. As of February 2011 they have 22,000 supporters of which 1,400 are paying contributors
Advisory council and board of directors
In addition to staff members and volunteers, there is an advisory panel of over thirty members, and a Board of Directors, which oversees the group's work, staff, fundraising and policy. The current board members are:
- Owen Blacker
- James Cronin
- John Elliott
- Maria Farrell
- Ben Laurie
- Harry Metcalfe
- Alec Muffett
- Simon Phipps
- Milena Popova
In January 2015, the Open Rights Group announced the formation of a Scottish Advisory Council which will be handling matters relating to Scottish digital rights and campaigns. The Advisory Council is made up of:
- Alex Stobbart
- Alistair Davidson
- Chris Yiu
- Marco Biagi MSP
- Mark Leiser
- Michael Fourman
- Patrick Harvie MSP
From the existing UK Advisory Council:
And from the Open Rights Group Board:
- Milena Popova
- Owen Blacker
- Simon Phipps
One of the first projects is to raise awareness and opposition to the Scottish Identity Database.
ORGCON was the first ever conference dedicated to digital rights in the UK, marketed as "a crash course in digital rights". It was held for the first time in 2010 at City University in London and included keynote talks from Cory Doctorow, politicians and similar pressure groups including Liberty, NO2ID and Big Brother Watch. ORGCON has since been held in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
- Digital Rights Ireland
- Electronic Frontier Canada
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Electronic Frontiers Australia
- Internet censorship
- Open Genealogy Alliance
- Open Tech 2005 schedule, 23 July 2005
- www.pledgebank.com/rights, 23 July 2005 – 25 December 2005
- Getting out more, Danny O'Brien's blog post floating the idea and advertising the pledge
- ORG digital rights event update, Open Rights Group blog, 29 November 2005
- Invitation to attend ‘Digital Rights in the UK: Your Rights, Your Issues’, Open Rights Group blog, 16 November 2005
- MPs in digital downloads warning, BBC News Online, 4 June 2006
- ORG submission to the APIG inquiry into DRM, Open Rights Group wiki, 3 January 2006
- Chancellor announces intellectual property review, HM Treasury press release, 2 December 2005
- ORG submission to the Gowers Review, Open Rights Group wiki, 30 May 2006
- Big Brother Awards UK 2008, 12 December 2008
- "Controversial UK anti-piracy law finally passed". BBC. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
- "Controversial UK anti-piracy law finally passed". Telecoms Europe. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- ORG issues and interests, Open Rights Group website, last visited 30 May 2008
- Digital rights issues, Open Rights Group website, last visited 30 May 2008
- "Open Rights Group Staff". Open Rights Group. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- "Open Rights Group Former Staff". Open Rights Group. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- "Open Rights Group Patron". Open Rights Group. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- Hargreaves Review of IP and Growth "Open Rights Group", 22 February 2011
- "Open Rights Group Board". Open Rights Group. Retrieved 4 Aug 2012.
- "ORGCon: London, July 24 – book now!". BoingBoing. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.