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September 06, 2005

Introducing The Open Rights Group

After six weeks locked in the shed at the bottom of the NTK garden, wherein much deliberation, discussion and a small amount of bodily harm (non-grievous) took place, we finally have a name. I bring you... The Open Rights Group.

We were going to scribble it on the back on an envelope and pass it round, as per our normal working methodology, but we figured that this temporary blog could possibly do the job just as well. We will set up a permanent home on the web, so until then this rough and ready lean-to I whipped up just now will have to do.

So, what news of ORG, as we now like to be called? Whither our efforts this last few weeks?

Well, pretty much the first thing that we did was rope in a bunch of co-conspirators, so we now have on board:

  • Danny O'Brien
  • Ian Brown
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Rufus Pollock
  • Louise Ferguson
  • Stef Magdalinski
  • Suw Charman

We've also been having surreptitious chats with a few other people, twisting a few arms, and hope to announce some more names soon, just as soon as the plaster has set.

High on our agenda has been figuring out what it is that we're actually going to do. Pledging to 'fight for your digital rights' is all well and good, but it does sound a bit like a second-rate Beastie Boys track. We want to do something a bit more substantial than throw tantrums and nick VW badges, so here's our back-of-the-napkin manifesto for reclaiming you digital rights:

The Open Rights Group is committed to protecting your digital rights, to fighting bad legislation both in the UK and Europe, and to fostering a grassroots community of volunteers dedicated to campaigning on digital rights issues.

Your civil and human rights are being eroded in the digital realm. Government, big business and industry bodies are taking liberties with your digital liberties, actions they could never get away with in the "real" world.

Our goals are:
  • to raise awareness within the media of digital rights abuses
  • to provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists
  • to campaign to preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world
  • to collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations
  • to nurture and assist a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts
Your right to privacy is being eroded by the government's ill-conceived ID card scheme, by biometric passports and the threat of vehicle tracking systems. Your right to free speech and freedom to use digital media is under threat from corporations who believe that 'fair use' of copyrighted works should exist only at their sufferance. Your right to private life and correspondence is under threat from a proposed European directive to log traffic and geographical data for every call you make, every SMS you send, every email you write, every website you visit.

It is essential in this time of international tension and uncertainty that we vigourously defend our digital civil liberties, ensuring that the our hard-won freedoms are not taken away simply because they've moved to the digital world.

We still have a lot to do and a lot to sort out, before the pledge matures, but we're on the case. I'll be posting here with news to keep you up to date with what we're doing, and will be keeping my eye out on the digital rights issues that come onto my radar.


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An excellent start.

Some very broad categories.

The name too is very broad. In some ways I think that's a good thing, but it doesn't really say "digital". An organization called ORG is an interesting idea though.

Every organization has to start somewhere ;) I'm very pleased that this is getting going.

...and a nice recursive url - shame that org.org seems taken!

Well done everyone. Best of luck with this.

I thought I was on board too? token lawyer and all that?

Drew: Broad categories, yes. We'll focus in due course, but for now we need to get things moving, which takes a lot more work than you might imagine!

David: We're still dealing with the structure and infrastructure of the organisation. I have you already on my list of 'people keen to do stuff', and soon as we've figured out what that stuff is we'll be in touch.

Seen this?


I'm disappointed that you haven't got org.org.uk yet. ;-)


Oh, there's so much fun we could have with the URI... we'll save it for a slow news week though. ;-)

Thanks for the " and Europe". ;)

Suw, you're right about the name. I was just wondering how people would feel about the Open Rights Group Annual Stakeholders' Meeting...

Domain names. Tricky as all the obvious ones are long gone but orgeu dot org seems to be available. Kind of works as in "is this the right room for an orgeument?"

Schoolboy humour aside, org.suw.org.uk will be in my mail/news sig from now on. Also, is it Ok to start poking any media contacts yet or should we hold fire for a while?

That's the best I can do until I buy that winning lottery ticket.

Hey Mr Skint. I am looking forward to setting up our wing for kids - Open Rights Group Youth.

Can I ask that if you put something in your sig that it's 'www.openrightsgroup.org', as that domain redirects to here, and when we have our hosting sorted out properly we'll use that URI for it.

If you have media contacts, please feel free to send them my way next week some time (I'm up to my eyeballs for the remainder of this week).

And thank you very much for your support!

Its a great idea and all, but please don't tell me that all that hype and fundraising was for... another blog.

Good for you all!

Where do I sign up to help?

I'm a Maths teacher, responsibility for ICT and run a website...

Whatever I can do to help, I will...

BTW - my wife is American, so pretty soon they tell me we can't vivit half of our family unless i let the government (bless 'em) keep records of my fingerprints, retina scans etc... Ummmmm.... Let the powers that be hold on to enough information to convict me in a court of law.... Let me see.... I think 'No' is the word that comes to mind.

What happens if ID cards are brought in and 10 million of us just say no?

See you on the barracades!


Good job. It's about time the beloved leaders of europe had opposition on the front-line of their war on our civil rights.

I join Andy in pledging assistance to this fight (i am but a poor PhD electronic engineering student, but am a competent user of the english language and an experienced campaigner on human rights issues).

Ah, just what we need yet another digital rights group. That's about two dozen. It is unfortunate that there are more people willing to start groups than help out existing ones, but then maybe they need to pad out their CVs.

Sod, it. I'm starting YADRG. Our aim is to encourage the creation of more digital rights groups. Whenever we get 5 members we'll spawn them off as a new group.

I wondered why you have chosen Movable Type for this site, when it isn't truly open source? Even more surprising when Suw's own blog is powered by Wordpress.

It's a pity Nominet can't be persuaded to allow org.org.uk. They did let www.org.uk slip through the net; unfortunately someone's already registered it.


Please don't mistake my schoolboy humour for me being a young 'un as that was a long time ago. However, I can possibly get your ORG Youth Wing fixed up with some free UK Web hosting and other useful goodies, if that's any help.

As for media contacts, I'll drop you something via email

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