ORGnews Issue 1
ooo First Beta Edition - Do Not Use On Children or The Elderly ooo
o Boring Administrivia
o URGENT DATA RETENTION ACTION NEEDED BY THURSDAY 2005-09-22
o Free Culture UK - Grassroots Action for The Public Domain
o Open GeoData Campaign Gets a Monkey
PLEDGE NOW STANDS AT: 865 FOUNDING MEMBERS
>>> Boring Administrivia
You're receiving this mail because you joined the Digital Rights Pledge http://www.pledgebank.com/rights/ at some point, and we thought you'd like to know what was going on.
Dull technicalities such as arranging a bank account, free office space, a budget and grant applications continue apace. After several press enquiries addressed to "your digital rights thing", a name was chosen: the OPEN RIGHTS GROUP. Acclaimed as "okay", it served its principal purpose, which was to delay incorporation while the Secretary of State personally checks whether we are, technically, a "group": a special term, it turns out, in company law. No, we're not joking.
Those wanting an ongoing update on this fascinating stuff (and to help out) can watch Suw Charman's ORG proto-blog at:
Explanation of what ORG will do:
But these things are not important. What is, is this:
>>> Urgent Data Retention ACTION NEEDED BY THURSDAY 2005-09-22
You don't need us to tell you that the mandatory retention of data about every EU citizen's calls, mobile phone movements, and internet usage would be a bad thing (if you do, check http://www.edri.org/docs/lettertoUKpres.pdf for a joint letter from EDRi and Privacy International to the Council of Ministers on the problems with data retention).
But it's happening anyway: the EU Commission just published their proposal to do just that:
And there's a live streaming press conference with Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini on the 'retention of data and the radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists' today (Wednesday 21 Sept) at 12.15pm.
One of the key EU institutions considering their position on this proposal is the ARTICLE 29 WORKING GROUP: that's all of the Information Commissioners (data protection registrars) in the EU, acting as one.
Word has it that many of the Article 29 Working Group want to fight data retention.
But the UK Information Commissioner says he can't join the fight because he doesn't feel that he can publically stand against the UK government's recent paper "Liberty and Security: Striking the Right Balance".
Short summary: it has a CCTV picture of the London Bombers on the front page. Says civil liberties are nice and all but, woo, terrorism.
Longer summary (from the excellent Privacy International coverage):
EDRi has produced a short analysis of the paper, which finds that none of the examples used by the UK government would justify their data retention proposals:
The latest draft of the EU's data retention plans have already excised the Article 29 working group from overseeing what sort of data gets retained.
The group want to fight, but the UK commissioner is reticent.
You can get them fighting back. Tell your Info Commissioner to stand up for your rights.
IF YOU HAVE TWO MINUTES:
Visit http://www.dataretentionisnosolution.com and sign European Digital Rights (EDRi)'s Europe-wide petition. EDRi is working hard at the EU level to alert politicians to the issues with data retention; the petition helps it demonstrate the size of the constituency it represents and will help boost Article 29's confidence.
IF YOU HAVE TWENTY MINUTES:
The UK Information Commissioner doesn't answer to the government: he answers to Parliament, and from them, to you. His mission (should he choose to accept it) includes: "protecting your personal information".
For that he doesn't need the government's backing: he needs yours.
1. Write to your MP, and tell him or her that you want the UK Information Commissioner to speak in the EU on your behalf against data retention. Use http://www.writetothem.com/
(You may want to check http://www.openrightsgroup.org/ before you send that second mail. We want the information commissioner to know we support him, but don't want to spam him to death. If he complains, we'll put up a sign.)
3. Forward this mail. Feel free to cut out everything but this plea. But make sure you include the expiry date: THURSDAY 2005-09-22.
Here's some points you could mention in your letter to your MP:
* Ask your MP to tell the Information Commissioner to speak for you, not the British government. Your right to have your personal data protected will outlast the current incumbents and must be assured by the appropriate legislation.
* The Commissioner has previously commented on both the expense of and lack of need for data retention. Ask your MP to ask that he fully and thoroughly investigate any data retention plans before rolling them out across Europe. Try not to mention "45 minute claims": it makes MPs uncomfortable and sweaty.
* The "Liberty and Security" paper published by the government actually only asks for "internet logins and logouts". The EU proposal also demands the To: and From: of emails. Tell your MP that even if the Commissioner is beholden to the government's stance, he should agree to no more than the minimum amount of data requested.
Be polite; be pursuasive: we want him on our side.
But most of all, be prompt. The Article 29 Working Group meets Thursday and Friday of this week.
We'll let you know how you get on. Remember, 850 people have your back.
>>> Free Culture UK - Grassroots Action for the Public Domain
Free Culture UK is a grassroots organisation that campaigns for key creative freedoms: a vibrant public domain, open formats, and free licenses. On October 1st, they're meeting up for their first Congress to set their agenda for the next year. If you're near London, you should pop along. If you're not, FC-UK has local groups in Birmingham, Brighton, Deptford, Exeter, Leeds and Reading - and can advise you on how to start your own.
>>> Open GeoData Campaign Gets a Monkey
Itching to chuck a fiver before the Open Rights Group pledge matures? The Pledge to support open access to state-collected geospatial date matured last week. They're collecting names to make sure that when you get tax-funded maps, you *really* get them: free for use and redistribution. And they're not sitting on their backsides waiting either: the OPENSTREETMAP project is creating a body of free data collected from geohackers all over the world. The pledge should earn them 500UKP, but a few more fivers wouldn't go amiss:
Are you doing something that defends or extends digital rights? Want more people to know about it? Worried about an issue that no-one has spotted yet? Mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your details. It's our job to tout you to the skies.
http://privacyinternational.org/ - 15 years fighting for privacy
http://www.edri.org/about/sponsoring - 21 orgs, 14 countries
http://openstreetmap.org/ - the free wiki world map
http://www.freeculture.org.uk/ - grassroots for an open culture
http://www.openrightsgroup.org/ - because your rights are reserved