James Governor's Monkchips

A crucial thinktank for UK IT policy: Thanks ORG

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The Open Rights Group is the UK’s equivalent of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Both organisations lobby on behalf of people that actually like and understand how digital living works. Digital Restrictions Management, e-voting… that kind of thing. ORG is maturing fast now, and Suw Charman, one of the lead protagonists, posted this today. I am going to quote liberally.

It’s amazing, how much we’ve done over the last 28 months. We cut our teeth on the Data Retention Directive, managing to get some much needed press attention for a directive that was marched through the European legislature with alarming speed. We’ve helped the UK Podcasters Association defend their rights. We’ve lobbied hard to have the term of copyright on sound recordings protected, as part of a wider project to respond to the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. We’ve helped the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG, now APComms) understand why we are against DRM. We’ve been one of the first organisations in the UK to observe the use of e-voting and e-counting in England and Scotland, touring our report around the party conferences.

We’ve done consultations, white papers, MPs briefings, press interviews and briefings, radio interviews, TV news slots, events, meetings, conferences, and blogs posts galore. The ORG wiki has become a valuable repository of information on a wide variety of digital rights issues, written mainly by some amazingly knowledgeable volunteers who have given up hours of their time to make sure that the wiki is up to date, accurate and free of spam.

I hope you don’t think that I’m bigging ORG up too much – I’m just genuinely amazed at how much we have achieved in such a short time and with so few resources. But of course, it doesn’t stop here. There is so much more work to do on e-voting, as the government has failed to take on board the severity of the problems identified not just by ORG, but also the Electoral Commission. We are also working hard on the Creative Business in the Digital Era project, examining new and developing business models that involve giving away creative works for free (and also, sometimes, the rights to that work). And there’s a lot more to come – the list of issues we want to tackle just keeps getting longer.

ORG is now looking for more money and more members as it further professionalises. So if you’re in the UK sign up. The EFF is nice and all, but the ORG is looking after local issues. In fact I am going to go make a donation right now!

My only problem with the organisation… I can’t help seeing it in my minds eye as “OR-GEE”. Surely not the intention…


  1. No, you’re thinking of our future arm, aimed at teen education – Open Rights Group Youth.

    Of course, then there’s our Annual Supporter Meeting…

    I could go on, but I shan’t. 😉

  2. Copyright, EFF Open Rights Group, and forming an opinion on digital rights….

    Video here, if not visible.TEDtalks session
    I think I’ve read everything that Larry Lessig has published, and I saw him live a few years ago at the Oxford Union. This TED talk is one of his best. Restricting presenters to 20 minutes is a good di…

  3. “Digital Restrictions Management, e-voting… that kind of thing”

    What kind of a “thing” is DRM _and_ e-voting?

    A thing so broad as to be meaningless. Unless it’s “a list of random things a particular bunch of people doesn’t like”.

    Perhaps you can explain, James?

  4. Paul – perhaps you could just follow the provided link to the ORG site and get all the details you need …. the joy of the interwebs is in the hyperlinks, not the spoonfeeding

  5. Thank you Ric but we all know what e-voting is (and its drawbacks) and we all know what DRM is (and those drawbacks).

    That’s not what I asked. Maybe James can explain how they’re “one thing”?

    When he stops Twittering.

  6. that kind of thing- i meant where public policy meets digital living, with a lack of knowledge from policy makers, and significant lobbying from well funded corporate interests. I dont believe i said or meant that e-voting and DRM are a singleton. sorry i wasn’t clear though.

    but i would certainly not agree with your statement that ‘we all know what DRM is, and its drawbacks’…

    in fact we need a more educated debate on… that kind of thing….

    thanks ric- I got your back.

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