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Happy Birthday

Yesterday, The Open Rights Group turned three. I'd like to wish a happy birthday and much success over the next year to this campaigning civil rights group, of which I am (needless to say) a member.

As ORG's website explains:

Politicians and the media don’t always understand new technologies, but comment and legislate anyway. The result can be ill-informed journalism and dangerous laws.

The Open Rights Group is a grassroots technology organisation which exists to protect civil liberties wherever they are threatened by the poor implementation and regulation of digital technology. We call these rights our “digital rights”.

I'm disgusted by the Daily Mail and other newspapers attempting to legislate for the nation by whipping up media panics, in order to boost their sales by pandering to their curtain-twitching readership. I'm sick and tired of instinctively authoritarian ministers promoting far-reaching and restrictive laws, that are ill-conceived and have obvious and undesirable side effects. I have no desire to have my ability to communicate and publish for adults restricted, on the pretext of protecting some abstract Victorian ideal of childhood from exposure to information that might corrupt and deprave them. And I don't see why the availability of new technologies that permit intrusive surveillance should be taken by government as a license to deploy such tools.

For these, and other reasons, I support the Open Rights Group, and it would make me happy if you would support them too.

22 Comments

1:

I rarely say this, but "here here!"

Couldn't agree more and the ORG are a light of the times. I second Charlie's point in supporting them if you can.

2:

If the worthiness of the cause is not enough, it doesn't hurt that Neil Gaiman is their Patron.

After a cursory look at their site, I assume that this group operates solely in the UK, correct?

3:

Thirded. Face it, we aren't going to find many disenters here.

4:

Stephen @2, as I live in the UK, that's a non-issue. Kind of like the EFF operating solely in the USA.

5:

Charlie@4 - Understood.

I just wanted to clarify since I'm in the US and would be interested if they operated over here. I may still donate since you seem to be in as bad or worse straits as we are in the US when it comes to privacy issues. We still have land to hide in, but we can't hide from our information without dropping out of society. News from the UK makes it sound like you are trapped in a fishbowl.

6:

The Open Rights Group is a UK organisation. This means that some times it also has to lobby in Europe. For example see the work they are doing on preventing a law in Europe that would allow a company to disconnect you from the internet on just the allegation not the proof that you infringed on copyright.

7:

They also - I think - have worked on the UK/England Libel laws.

Which is something that has global implications.

8:

I'm glad such an organization exists, over there, and I may just go ahead and pitch some money to them on the theory that these are global rights worth fighting for everywhere.

More to the point, incursions anywhere can be used to justify incursions elsewhere. I've heard numerous arguments that massive public surveillance isn't that bad of an idea because it "works" in England and that, surely, a little bit in the US would be a Good Thing if it helped us fight the Boogey Man.

9:

I have to add my support to this organization.

By the way , Holyrood have just voted against ID cards (69 to zero) , unfortunately they have no jurisdiction on ID cards.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7736588.stm

10:

Indeed.
I am glad to know you have the Open Rights Group working in your corner. I am sad that you need it. The surveillance state motif is getting a bit thick in the air.

While the US has some good organizations dedicated to the same type of goal, many (like the EFF) are fighting too many fights at once to be nearly as effective.

Yet still and all: VIVA!

11:

Stephen @2, join the EFF if you're in the US. They're older and more established, and are currently suing the NSA, President Bush, and the Attorneys General, among others. I joined because I am an ORG member, then I moved to California.
http://www.eff.org
http://petty.me.uk/wordpress/?p=482

12:

Hm. Interesting. I seem to be member 291 *and* 520, under two different email addresses, but I'm fairly sure I'm only paying them once...

13:

Argh! Wish I'd known about the group before - signing up as soon as I can get my bank etc sorted......

14:

I'm an American soldier in Afghanistan. I use satellite internet through a Hong Kong company and when I try to browse to www.openrightsgroup.org it says address not found, but I can get to www.eff.org and I joined. I wonder if China has blocked access to the website.

15:

bluemoon @14:

Try the IP address. It's:
http://88.208.234.41

If it works, then your Hong Kong company just can't resolve the domain name. Otherwise I'd be tempted to say that China probably blocks anything with the word "rights" in it. I would have expected a little better from a company in Hong Kong, but then I don't know the situation since China took control.

I don't know if there's a proxy server out there that would help. I used to know one that got around filters at work here in the US, but that site's been gone for years. Maybe someone can better advise you there.

16:

Let's play "My party number is lower than yours"

#248

Remember - join right now and you will _pwn_ all the poor saps who join later whenever the 'Them with the highest ORG number buys the round' game is played. It's a snap at just afiver a month.

18:

My round, then. But when someone with a higher ORG number arrives, it's _their_ turn to buy. More recruits, more beer for us. It's a great game which makes pyramid selling work for good.

Of course, we only start playing the game when everyone round the table who's not in ORG (and has an ORG number of infinity) has already bought their round. Don't think I haven't thought it through.

19:

Rats, 42 beats my 539. Shouldn't have prevaricated for quite so long before setting up the standing order..

By the way, the video for "Where's the British EFF?" panel discussion at OpenTech 2005 -- which directly led to the commissioning of the Open Rights Group -- is still online; see:

http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~dwm/mirror/OpenTech2005/

20:

Otherwise I'd be tempted to say that China probably blocks anything with the word "rights" in it.

Not true when I was there last year.

In fact, the most problems I had with the Internet and China (when I was teaching there) was an American ISP deciding to discard all traffic from China, but not to tell anyone else that they were doing that. So depending on the routing, I'd either get a good connection or not to various sites.

Maybe I'm naive, but I'm a bit more concerned about private companies deciding to censor the internet than my government, because they are apparently already doing it and getting away with it.

21:

@9: Jonty, the Scottish government doesn't have direct power over ID cards but it does make the law in most other areas and it's in charge of most public services, so it can easily, say, refuse to require the Labour ID card as proof of identity in schools, hospitals, etc. etc. - it can make the ID card more or less pointless in Scotland.

22:

That is quite true , and it looks like a number of other institutions are coming out against them.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/henryporter/2008/nov/21/civilliberties-idcards

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on November 20, 2008 11:36 AM.

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