ORG Press Coverage/2009

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2009-12-02 - BBC News - Web giants unite against Digital Britain copyright plan
Summary: Some of the biggest names on the web have written to Peter Mandelson to express "grave concerns" about elements of the Digital Economy Bill. Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay object to a clause that they say could give government "unprecedented and sweeping powers" to amend copyright laws... The plans have proved controversial with lobby organisation The Open Rights Group urging people to contact their MP to oppose the plans.


2009-11-23 - Guardian - Sweden sees music sales soar after crackdown on filesharing
Author: Katie Allen
Summary: Thank you for the music – or rather thank you for paying for the music – to misquote Abba. Record labels are pointing to the dramatic rise in music sales in Sweden, just months after the country introduced anti-piracy laws, as evidence of what a similar crackdown in Britain could do to the flagging market... On the other side of the debate over similar proposed laws in Britain, Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, questioned how much the Swedish figures reflected a legal change there. "We shouldn't be surprised that digital revenues are going up in countries like Sweden now that new services have been online for a while. The question is whether it is necessary to have harsh enforcements," he said. Killock believes music companies and other rights holders are already alienating consumers. He points out that Sweden's Pirate party, which wants to legalise internet filesharing, has won a seat in the European parliament. His own group, which is running a "say no to disconnection" campaign, has seen its membership grow by 20% in the last two months, to just over 1,000 people. "If the music industry wants to build a movement of people that are angry with the way they are being treated they are going about it the right way," he said. He and many of the internet service providers argue the way to curb piracy is for music companies to provide more legal online music sources such as Spotify. "Filesharing is not the root of the problem. It's a symptom not a cause. It's a symptom of a lack of relevant services," said Killock.
2009-11-20 - Guardian - Digital divide over filesharing plans
Author: Richard Wray
Summary: The government's planned crackdown on unlawful online filesharing has been attacked by privacy campaigners and internet service providers but welcomed by executives and artists in the music business... Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, warned that "people's rights are at stake. The bill doesn't require any test of evidence before harsh punishments are imposed on people accused of copyright infringement, and opens the door to a ratcheting up of unwarranted powers without democratic scrutiny," he said. "There is a massive swell of action against this bill, led by creators, citizens and people working in digital industries, who are outraged by this attempt to hijack our rights."
2009-11-19 - Ars Technica - Queen: We sank the Armada, we can sink some P2P pirates!
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: "My Government will introduce a Bill to ensure the communications infrastructure is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting," said Her Majesty, an innocuous description of the about-to-be-introduced Digital Economy bill... "We believe these laws will be illegal under European law," wrote ORG's Jim Killock after the speech. "The new Amendment 138 [in the European Parliament's major telecom reform bill] appears to guarantee a prior legal process and hearing before disconnection occurs—where our government is proposing an appeal mechanism, for those who choose to take it up. "Appeals mechanisms may be appropriate when it is clear that evidence is robust, and the punishment is clear: but with this proposal neither is true. Evidence cannot show who may have infringed copyright, only what connection was used. And the punishment could have an enormous range of effects, from being disruptive to removing someone’s ability to earn a living. For both these reasons, disconnection should only ever be imposed as the result of a court hearing."
2009-11-18 - BBC News - Government lays out digital plans
Summary: The government has laid out its plans to deal with illegal file-sharers as part of its Digital Economy Bill, outlined in the Queen's Speech... The bill will, according to the government, "ensure communications infrastructure that is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting"... Lobby organisation The Open Rights Group is urging people to contact their MP to oppose the plans. "This plan won't stop copyright infringement and with a simple accusation could see you and your family disconnected from the internet - unable to engage in everyday activities like shopping and socialising," it said.
2009-11-05 - Register - EU block to Mandelson's filesharing laws removed
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: A plan by the European Parliament to restrict the power of national governments to disconnect illegal filesharers has been dumped to win agreement on new telecoms competition laws... Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, which is campaigning against imminent UK legislation that will target illegal filesharers, said today: "With heavy government pressure, this is not unexpected, but it is disappointing." He said provisions in the agreed package could still offer some hope to the group's campaign. "This could still pose problems for Mandelson, as his proposals still look like relying on poor evidence, and therefore will be pushing people to admit guilt when they are in fact innocent. This wouldn't fit well with the current text, which has a heavy emphasis on fair procedures."


2009-10-28 - Daily Mail - You'll be cut off, internet freeloaders are warned
Summary: Internet connections will be cut if they are used for illegal downloading, Lord Mandelson will today reveal... Jim Killock, of the digital campaigners Open Rights Group, said: 'This smacks of a knee-jerk reaction at a time when copyright infringement is reducing.'
2009-10-23 - - Broadband 'becoming prominent on political agenda'
Summary: Broadband-related issues are becoming increasingly important to voters, an expert has claimed... This is exemplified by the current issue of filesharing, he explained, as research by the Open Rights Group recently highlighted that less people would vote for a party that supported the disconnection of persistent offenders.
2009-10-20 - Reuters - Groups urge EU to block Oracle's plan to buy Sun
Author: Foo Yun Chee
Summary: EU regulators should block Oracle Corp's plan to buy open source database MySQL via its takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc as Oracle may hinder MySQL's development, two technology and consumer groups said... In a letter to Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes dated October 19, digital civil liberties organization Open Rights Group, Knowledge Ecology International and software developer Richard Stallman said they shared the same concerns.
2009-10-19 - Guardian - 70% oppose internet ban for filesharers, poll shows
Author: Patrick Wintour
Summary: Plans to force internet service providers (ISPs) to disconnect suspected illegal downloaders have been roundly rejected in a new YouGov poll, the first time public opinion has been tested on the issue. Nearly 70% of those surveyed said someone suspected of illegal downloading should have a right to a trial in court before restrictions on internet use were imposed. Only 16% were in favour of automatic curbs based on accusations by copyright holders such as musicians, as is proposed by the business department... Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, the organisation that commissioned the YouGov poll, called the government's plans extremist. "This poll shows people rely on the internet, and an overwhelming majority think that access should only ever be withdrawn as the result of court action. Nearly a third would be much less likely to vote for a party that supports disconnection proposals. Clearly Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, is out of step with public opinion and should think again."
2009-10-05 - Guardian - Web activists protest as Royal Mail threatens over postcode lookup service
Author: Charles Arthur
Summary: Web activists warned yesterday that sites which help people to find jobs and to discover planning applications in their area face legal threats from the Royal Mail to a two-man company. The Royal Mail claims that the site,, is breaking the law by piggybacking on other online sites which offer free access to its database which holds a list matching the UK's 1.8m postcodes to geographical locations – and that Royal Mail is suffering "loss" as a result... Planning Alerts had more than 6,000 users. The Open Rights Group (ORG), which campaigns for digital rights, said: "These services would have to pay around £4,000 a year to use postcode data legally, which raises Royal Mail around £1.3m a year. It is easy to see that large numbers of small business ideas and not for profit services are being blocked by these license fees – it is in effect a tax on innovation."
2009-10-02 - Guardian - Electoral Commission rebuffs GLA plans for e-counting
Author: Charles Arthur
Summary: The Electoral Commission has strongly criticised plans by the Greater London Authority's chief executive Leo Boland to push ahead with electronic counting in its 2012 elections, based on the GLA's internal cost-benefit analysis that shows e-counting would cost 40% more than a manual count... he GLA's plans have already been criticised by other groups such as the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital rights. It has said that the extra cost of an e-count – estimated in the analysis at £5.1m, compared to £3.6m for a manual count – "doesn't seem rational … when they could spend it on better public services".


2009-09-30 - Guardian - Counting the cost – electronically
Author: Charles Arthur
Summary: You have a task: count around 10m votes. You discover there are two alternative solutions for doing the count. Both will take about the same time; both can be verified by checking back; but one is done by humans and one is done largely by machines. Which do you pick?.. Yet Leo Boland, the chief executive at London City Hall, who took office in January, told the Open Rights Group and other attendees at a round table that he would go ahead with e-counting for the 2012 elections. The move has amazed the Open Rights Group (ORG), a campaigning group on digital rights and civil liberties, which opposes the idea of e-counting unless it can be shown to be as robust and affordable as manual counting. "What are the benefits of e-counting? The GLA says it's faster and cheaper and more modern," says Jason Kitcat, a member of the ORG advisory group who is also head of technology for the website Netmums. "But it isn't faster. In the 2007 trials, all but one [e-counting trial] took longer or as long as manual counts."
2009-09-25 - BBC News - Squeeze file-sharers, stars say
Author: Ian Youngs
Summary: Pop star Lily Allen has joined almost 100 other British musicians at a heated three-hour debate to discuss how to tackle illegal music downloading. The meeting was called after a public dispute among artists over whether serial file-sharers should be punished... Jim Killock, executive director of digital rights activists the Open Rights Group said the musicians had addressed "the symptom and not the cure". He said the only answer was "to licence products to compete with file-sharing", but that major labels were being too cautious in approving new services.
2009-09-24 - CNN - Think you're a good employee? Office snooping software can tell
Summary: Even the most cunning of slackers may have finally met their match in a new piece of office surveillance software. A program has been developed by U.S. firm Cataphora and "encompasses a large number of techniques for analyzing emotive tone in electronic communications", according to the company's Web site... "Businesses should be careful about the implication of control and monitoring," Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, told CNN. "The idea that employees could be judged by patterns in their email traffic must raise concerns: False positives always occur in any analysis, and it seems worrying that individuals may have their actions interpreted with suspicion at a distance by HR departments. People tend to believe what the computer tells them rather more than they should. More than that, Killock believes using such software can have a negative psychological impact on a workplace. It is a powerful signal that you do not fully trust the people you are paying or perhaps don't invest the time and care to properly manage them," he says. "Ask yourself if this will make staff more efficient, or more risk averse and normative? Monitoring could actually damage performance among your more creative staff members. Surveillance, when not absolutely necessary, implies a lack of trust which can only undermine relations between managers and employees. Often surveillance is simply a way of papering over the cracks caused by bad management."
2009-09-22 - IT Pro - Phorm loses money and members of the board
Author: Jennifer Scott
Summary: The first six months of 2009 have been up and down for Phorm with huge losses as well as massive fundraising revenues, but now more senior employees have started to jump ship too. Phorm has announced dramatic losses of $15 million but fundraising has helped kept the company afloat... Concerns were raised around privacy with the technology that tracks internet movements allowing advertising to be targeted to each independent user. The company secretly trialled the tech with BT and had private contracts with other ISPs – Talk Talk and Virgin Media. A stream of condemnation for the technology has followed, from government groups, the open rights group and even Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
2009-09-10 - The Register - Pop stars tell labels to FOAD
Author: Andrew Orlowski
Summary: Controversy has ignited over last week's statement by the Featured Artists Coalition. The group, which is a sort of Emu to the Music Managers' Rod Hull, released a feisty contribution to the Digital Britain consultation process last Thursday. It went practically unnoticed until today... But was it entirely accurate, we wondered? Mandelson has all but ruled out disconnections - temporary suspensions for hardcore refuseniks may be as far as sanctions go. Temporary suspensions are favoured by UK Music, the coalition that represents all the competing interests within the British musi industry. So the only people who seem to want them are the BPI, and davefromblur's Open Rights Group.
2009-09-09 - BusinessWeek - Europe's Heated Reaction to Google Books
Author: Honor Mahony
Summary: Publishers, booksellers, and authors are upset at the copyright, privacy, and censorship implications of Google's plan to digitize millions of books. As the scope of Google's plans to digitise millions of books gradually becomes clear, European publishers, booksellers and authors are up in arms about copyright, data privacy and censorship issues... Jim Killock, from the Open Rights Group, said that "European literature may soon be more available in the U.S.," something he deemed "ironic" and urged the creation of a "pan-European licensing system."
2009-09-07 - Telegraph - Google Books project to remove European titles
Summary: Books owned by European authors and publishers will no longer be part of the Google Books digitisation project, following discussions with the European Union. The decision means that books that are still on sale in Europe but are no longer available to consumers in the United States will now be omitted from the database. Google said that the number of titles affected by the decision was "hard to assess"... "We must not see this dispute as simply a process to deliver a compromise between two commercial interests. Instead we must ask how best to deliver the wealth of European and world literature – and other cultural works – to citizens," said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital rights and freedoms online. "We think we must now accept that there is something very wrong with EU copyright law. The incontrovertible evidence is that it needs substantial reform every time an innovative service using copyright works comes along," he said. "Copyright, having acted as an economic incentive to production, is now acting in Europe as a barrier to commercial and academic availability."
2009-09-06 - The Guardian - Internet suspension of illegal downloaders could become law
Author: Katie Allen
Summary: Proposals to suspend the internet connections of people who persist in illegally swapping copyrighted films and music could become law within less than a year despite the fierce debate they have sparked, according to Britain's record label lobby group... Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, has cited opposition to similar proposals in France and said: "The result of these proposals is likely to be protest, challenges and public arguments in the run-up to the general election."
2009-09-03 - The Guardian - Lammy appeals to film and music industries to help tackle online piracy
Author: Katie Allen
Summary: Film studios and record labels should not rely on the threat of legal action to force consumers into buying their products, but instead work to help people understand the impact of filesharing, according to intellectual property minister David Lammy... Digital rights groups have attacked the government move as a kneejerk reaction. The Open Rights Group says suspension of internet access would restrict people's fundamental right to freedom of expression.
2009-09-03 - The Times - BT, Orange and TalkTalk condemn plan to tackle illegal file sharing
Author: Nic Fildes
Summary: The chief executives of Britain’s biggest internet providers have united to criticise Lord Mandelson’s “misconceived” plans to disconnect users who illegally download music and films. In a letter in The Times today, Ian Livingston, of BT; Charles Dunstone, of Carphone Warehouse, which owns TalkTalk; and Tom Alexander, of Orange in Britain, say that the vast majority of customers do not share files illegally and blameless customers would suffer under the proposals. “We must avoid an extrajudicial kangaroo court process,” they said... The internet providers’ letter, which has also been signed by Which?, the Open Rights Group and Consumer Focus, urges Lord Mandelson to consider carefully his plan to tackle the illegal filesharing problem in light of “significant consumer resistance”.


2009-08-26 - Computerworld - British proposal to cut Web access to copyright infringers draws protest
Author: Jaikumar Vijayan
Summary: A British government proposal that would require Internet service providers to cut off Web access to those found to be illegally downloading copyrighted music and video is evoking protest in that country. Critics call the proposal a step in the wrong direction that would put the country in violation of its own laws and those in the European Union... The Open Rights Group, a London-based civil rights group said the proposal represented "heavy-handed intervention" and directly contravened the government's position on universal Internet access. "The result of these proposals is likely to be protest, challenges and public arguments in the run-up to the general election," the group said on its Web site.
2009-08-26 - AP - Illegal downloaders in Britain may lose Web access
Summary: The British government says people who illegally download music and films could have their Internet connections cut off... The Open Rights Group — which aims to raise awareness of digital rights — said any suspension would "restrict people's fundamental right to freedom of expression."
2009-08-25 - BBC News - Who is batting for file-sharing proposals?
Author: Rory Cellan-Jones
Summary: "Peter just doesn't get the internet..." That was the instant reaction of one person I spoke to this morning about the government's new measures against illegal file-sharing - and Lord Mandelson's part in them. And this was not someone from digital campaigners the Open Rights Group or from an internet service provider, but a political insider from the same party as the business secretary.
2009-08-25 - - Britain moves to curb filesharing
Summary: Britain's government is looking to temporarily cut off internet access for people who download music and films illegally. Treasury Minister Stephen Timms on Tuesday announced a plan that would require internet service provides to block access to certain filesharing sites, throttle internet connections and suspend users' accounts if they were found to be repeatedly downloading copyrighted material... The move was cheered by copyright holders, but Britain's Open Rights Group, an organization that aims to protect internet users, said such a plan would "restrict people's fundamental right to freedom of expression."


2009-07-24 - Guardian - British ISP pulls the plug on illegal filesharers
Author: Alexandra Topping
Summary: Internet users in Hull risk having their connection cut if they illegally share files, under a controversial "three strikes and out policy" operated by the only internet service provider in the area... Digital rights campaign organisation, The Open Rights Group, criticised the company's decision to continue disconnecting its customers. Executive director Jim Killock said: "Karoo's policy still has major concerns around presuming guilt, allowing innocent people to clear their name, and allowing due process to take place. They are still threatening to cut users from the internet without testing the evidence. This is especially concerning given their monopoly position." He added: "Even prisoners get to use the internet. For many people, web access is not optional in the modern world."
2009-07-24 - BBC News - Plug-pulling ISP changes policy
Summary: Internet service provider (ISP) Karoo, based in Hull, has changed its policy of suspending the service of users suspected of copyright violations. The about face was made following a BBC story outlining the firm's practice... Jim Killock, executive director of the digital rights activists The Open Rights Group, told the BBC that it is "totally unfair" to disconnect people without notice. "In fact, disconnection is something that should only even possibly be considered as a result of court action," he said.
2009-07-24 - Ars Technica - One strike: UK ISP goes medieval on P2P users, relents
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: The award for "most draconian plan to disconnect accused file-sharers" goes to Karoo, a small UK ISP that serves the city of Hull. After a single copyright infringement accusation, and without first notifying customers, the company cuts off service. Following an outcry, it agrees to changes its ways... Jim Killock, new head of the UK's Open Rights Group, is appalled, especially since the UK government has made clear that disconnection is not a preferred penalty in these sorts of cases, and most ISPs have been sending out only warnings. "None of this takes place through a court," he wrote in a blog post. "The ‘evidence’ is not examined and cannot be disputed. Users have to accept responsibility for the alleged infringements in order to be reconnected. There is a basic question of proportionality. A teenager who downloads a song with a purchase value of under a pound may cause their parent’s job or businesses to be disrupted. Copyright infringement could easily lead to loss of a citizen’s ability to partake in political action organised online... There’s also a strong element of bullying. By signing an indemnity and promising not to infringe copyright in the future, users are being asked to do something impossible. You cannot tell what’s legal to download or watch by looking at the file. Even the providers themselves can get it wrong—that’s why copyright cases go to court."
2009-07-14 - ForexYard - Ads set to get more personal despite privacy worry
Author: Georgina Prodhan
Summary: Advertising that targets consumers based on their behaviour is here to stay despite a victory for privacy groups last week when two UK telecom firms ditched plans for technology that tracks consumer Web use. Credit-card providers and stores that issue loyalty cards have long known the advantages of understanding their customers' behaviour, and now the Internet holds the promise for all advertisers to place their ads before the right customer's eyes... "The field is fraught and I don't think anybody's got it completely right yet," said Jim Killock, executive director of digital civil liberties organisation the Open Rights Group.
2009-07-10 - Telegraph - 118800: Has the privacy backlash already begun?
Author: Basheera Khan
Summary: Hold the phone. Hold the freakin’ phone. Has somebody reset the time circuits and taken us back to the 90s? Is it suddenly okay to opt people in to a potentially intrusive service until they choose to opt out? Last time I checked, this was considered shockingly poor form in an industry which relies on building trust with consumers... I discussed the matter with the friendly people at the Open Rights Group, who expect a considerable public backlash on this one that could be very damaging to any companies that are involved, given the rising tide of privacy concerns. One has to wonder if the ’service unavailable’ page is the first evidence of a growing negative sentiment.
2009-07-07 - IT Pro - Open Rights Group says BT has made the right decision to not implement Phorm's advertising system.
Author: Nicole Kobie
Summary: Following yesterday's news that BT has no immediate plans to use Phorm's network scanning behavioural advertising system, its vocal critics stepped up to celebrate... Open Rights Group's Jim Killock - who previously compared Phorm to corporate espionage - welcomed BT's decision and called on other ISPs including Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse's TalkTalk to "follow their lead. This is the right decision for BT and other online providers who respect privacy," he wrote on ORG's site. But he warned: "Phorm will remain a threat to our fundamental rights while they offer services that intercept communications without the consent of all parties."
2009-07-07 - Guardian - Our surfing is our business
Author: Jim Killock
Summary: Phorm focuses on taking a look at as much of your web surfing as it can get away with, which is dangerous enough. But much worse, its technology is likely to be illegal, by breaking your right to consent to "interception" of your communication. Phorm and BT started by looking at customers' internet traffic without telling them. Campaigners complained to the information commissioner, the interception commissioner, government departments, Ofcom and the police. All refused to act. So, last year, the Open Rights Group wrote to Viviane Reding, the EU telecoms commissioner. She had at least two concerns with UK legislation. First, citizens have a right under EU law to take complaints about private interception to the authorities. Second, when the data is commercially sensitive or a communication between individuals, Phorm may need to gain the consent of websites or all users. Reding is, as a result, taking the government to court over the way EU legislation has been passed into UK law. If we ignore principles such as gaining consent before intercepting our communications, then we erode the barriers to abusing our data in the future.
2009-07-07 - New York Times - BT Decides Not to Adopt Internet-Based Ad System
Author: Eric Pfanner
Summary: Amid rising concern about privacy, BT Group, the British telecommunications company, said Monday that it would not adopt a technology that lets advertisers tailor their pitches to consumers based on interests revealed by their Internet use... “It’s a huge victory for privacy,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, a civil liberties organization based in London.
2009-07-06 - Ars Technica - UK ISP drops Phorm behavioral ad tech—for now
Author: Jacqui Cheng
Summary: UK ISP BT has decided not to roll out the controversial behavioral advertising system Phorm for the time being, instead focusing its resources on more important prospects. The news comes as a relief to privacy groups in the UK, though Phorm is not dead yet...Digital rights groups are pleased with the news. The Open Rights Group described the move as "the right decision for BT and other online providers who respect privacy," and urged other UK ISPs to follow BT's lead in dropping Phorm.
2009-07-06 - Guardian - Phorm plunges as BT mothballs targeted ads service
Author: Richard Wray
Summary: Shares in Phorm, the Aim-listed technology firm, have plunged after it emerged that BT has quietly pulled plans to roll out its controversial advertising system, which tracks the internet habits of customers and has been attacked as online snooping by privacy campaigners... Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, which has campaigned hard against Phorm, said: "Open Rights Group welcomes BT's decision and hopes other UK ISPs, particularly Virgin Media and TalkTalk, will follow their lead. This is the right decision for BT and other online providers who respect privacy. Phorm will remain a threat to our fundamental rights while they offer services that intercept communications without the consent of all parties."


2009-06-26 - Guardian - Facebook hires lobbyists to push privacy agenda
Author: Bobbie Johnson
Summary: Facebook is hiring lobbyists to push its agenda on internet privacy and data sharing in Brussels and Washington, as the social networking site attempts to increase its influence with authorities around the world. The company has appointed Richard Allan, who was previously the head of European regulatory affairs for the technology giant Cisco, to lead its efforts in lobbying EU governments... Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for the rights of British citizens online, says technology companies are increasingly choosing to exert pressure at European level, rather than in more tightly monitored environments, such as Westminster. "It is much easier for commercial concerns to lobby Brussels, which is distant from public attention but shapes very important legislation," he said. "Businesses will pay to make sure their views are heard, and it's difficult for citizens to match that."
2009-06-26 - BBC News - Music industry 'missed' Napster
Summary: The music industry would be in better shape now if it had engaged with Napster rather than fought it. So says Geoff Taylor, head of music industry body BPI, in a column written for the BBC. In the column, Mr Taylor expressed "regret" that the music industry did not move faster to work out how to use the net to promote and sell records... In response, Jim Killock, head of the Open Rights Group, said: "It's great that the BPI are willing to apologise for their past mistakes with Napster, but they are busy trying to make the same mistake again by 'clamping down' on illicit P2P. "By trying to get the government to clamp down on users, they risk alienating music's greatest fans, and bringing copyright into disrepute," he said.
2009-06-19 - Financial Times - Amateurs race professionals to uncover great truths from little details
Author: Tim Bradshaw
Summary: Enthusiastic amateurs are being pitted against investigative journalists after the publication online of MPs' expenses, as newspapers and members of the public race to find the best stories buried within tens of thousands of documents. Technical experts have developed a number of sites that allow users to help sift information in the quest for new leads. The sites work by asking users to read scanned, often handwritten, documents and sort them into categories such as housing or entertainment, so that trends in MPs' spending can be spotted... Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, a digital rights campaigner, said: "The Telegraph [newspaper] has done a pretty fantastic job holding MPs to account but in the long run, having constituents looking through their MP's expense records is going to make them think long and hard about how they spend our money."
2009-06-18 - IT Pro - A senior Tory MP has warned the Conservatives will scrap ID card plans so companies bidding to provide them should not enter into further contracts with the current Government.
Author: Jennifer Scott
Summary: A Conservative MP is warning companies involved with the ID card scheme to avoid any further contracts, as the plans will be scrapped if the Conservatives win the next general election... Jim Killock, member of the Open Rights Group, strongly opposed to ID cards, said: “Obviously contractors will expect some certainty that they won't be left to foot the bill if their contracts are terminated early. But there's a difference between commercial needs and trying to subvert the ability of a future government to make it own decisions. There's no secret in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat's opposition to ID Cards, nor that they would seek to end the scheme; commercial contractors will no doubt have considered the possibility of the scheme being scrapped and built that into the arrangements they have made. Contracts shouldn't come before the democratic will of the people, and if Labour force the country to pay an unnecessary bill for scrapping the scheme, that's likely to leave a bitter taste for years to come.”
2009-06-09 - eWeek Europe - Software Patent Pirates Plunder EU Seat
Author: Andrew Donoghue
Summary: Swedish anti-software patent campaigners have won a seat in the EU parliament after winning more than 7 percent of the vote in the country's European election. The Swedish Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) won 7.1 percent of the vote spurred in part by the recent controversy surrounding the prosecution of the founders of The Pirate Bay file-sharing website... UK campaigners The Open Rights Group said that it was important that the EU elections gave proper attention to digital rights. "The story of digital rights shows that citizens will act to defend their rights while others seek to erode them, and will expect Parliamentarians to act in citizens’ interests. Defence of our digital rights, based on our human rights and legitimate user expectations, is an opportunity for parliamentarians to gain the trust of citizens if they have the political courage to act," the group said in a blog entry.
2009-06-02 - Vnunet - MEP election campaigns ignore online policy issues
Author: Rosalie Marshall
Summary: Just days before the European elections, the majority of standing UK MEPs have not outlined their policies to voters on the areas of net neutrality, copyright or data privacy. Digital rights groups have insisted that MEPs need to make a clear stand, pointing out that laws affecting online access and data protection are generally formed by European institutions rather than national governments... "It is the responsibility of EU candidates to help educate voters about their views on these matters," said Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group (ORG). "Not only do voters need to know that they are electing people with power to make these decisions, but we all need to enter a democratic debate about where Europe is heading."


2009-05-26 - Edinburgh News - Fringe pair stay trapped in 4ft diameter pods to raise cash for show
Author: Gemma Fraser
Summary: BEING trapped in a pod just 4ft in diameter, unable to stretch or go to the bathroom while having to listen to heavy metal or the Crazy Frog, may sound like a nightmare. But two students willingly signed up for what must be most people's idea of torture – all in the name of fundraising. William Green and Matt Wieteska spent 26 hours curled up in the "escape" pod, without being able to stretch out, sleep for any more than two hours at a time or even go to the bathroom... As the group raised almost £800 and have covered their production costs, they are donating a percentage of the fundraising money to civil liberties charity the Open Rights Group.
2009-05-20 - PC Pro - Phorm "no worse than Tesco"
Author: Barry Collins
Summary: The practices of controversy-strewn web advertising service Phorm are "not philosophically different" to those of Tesco or Amazon, according to an e-commerce lawyer. Vanessa Barnett, partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner, was speaking at a Westminster eForum on behavioural targeting. The event heard from speakers including Phorm's senior vice president, Mark Burgess, and the executive director of the Open Rights Group, which is urging leading websites to opt-out of the Phorm scheme. Barnett compared Phorm's behavioural tracking service - which serves up adverts based on the user's internet traffic - to Tesco's Clubcard scheme and Amazon's shopping recommendations. "What Phorm and Google are doing isn't philosophically different to what Tesco and Amazon are doing," she claimed. That argument was rejected by the Open Rights Group's executive director, Jim Killock, who compared Phorm's technology to "industrial espionage" because it didn't seek the permission of commercial websites to collect data about their visitors' surfing habits. In our view, these services should be opt-in," Killock said. "Data shouldn't be collected without consent. If you're running a website and your data is being collected by a third party, you should want a contractual relationship with that third party. Many businesses may go so far as to think that having their data spied upon is a form of industrial espionage."
2009-05-20 - ITPro - Critic compares Phorm to ‘industrial espionage’
Author: Nicole Kobie
Summary: Behavioural advertising system Phorm could be seen as ‘industrial espioniage’ by some businesses, according to one critic. Phorm scans network traffic to help it decide which ads to display to the user - a system which the firm claims offers better advertising but critics say is intrusive. The EU is currently pondering whether a trial of it in the UK was illegal. Speaking at a Westminster eForum on the subject, Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group (ORG) said it’s not just individuals who are concerned with Phorm’s deep packet inspection, but companies as well. “May businesses will think commerical data and relationships should simply be private until they and their customers decide,” Killock said. "Many businesses may go so far as to think that having their data spied upon is a form of industrial espionage," he added. Killock said that any business running a website should have a contractual relationship with any third party that will see their data.
2009-05-20 - ZDNet UK - Number 10 will not investigate Phorm
Author: Tom Espiner
Summary: The Prime Minister's Office has rebuffed a public call for a government investigation into Phorm, saying that the independent Information Commissioner's Office is responsible for ensuring that the behavioural ad-serving technology does not contravene privacy laws. On Tuesday, Number 10 published a response to an e-petition that had called for an investigation of Phorm's technology by the government, and a ban on its adoption by internet service providers if it was found to breach European or British privacy laws. Phorm intercepts user data traffic to anonymously profile people and serve them adverts based on their web-browsing behaviour... Jim Killock, director of digital-rights organisation the Open Rights Group, told ZDNet UK that Number 10 was dodging the issue of scrutinising the legality of Phorm. "Clearly, the ICO doesn't have a role in intercept," said Killock. "Number 10 is passing the buck to an organisation which doesn't have that responsibility, which is at best obfuscation." Killock added that the legality of Phorm's service under Ripa should be examined. "You shouldn't be intercepting data traffic without the clear consent of all users involved," said Killock. "If you intercept a communication, everyone involved should give clear, informed consent."
2009-05-10 - Guardian - What does the state know about you?
Author: Jim Killock
Summary: What does the government know about us? Where are they keeping this information and who can see it? And what else are they planning? These are the questions that the Open Rights group tries to answer in our new spoof website Statebook. A quick glance shows you the travel, communication, employment and education databases that hold information on you. It doesn't take long to realise that the picture the state can build about individuals is very revealing.
2009-05-07 - ZDNet Asia - IP infringement fines to increase tenfold in UK
Author: Tom Espiner
Summary: The U.K. government is to increase the maximum fine for intellectual-property infringement from US$7,520 to US$75,200. Following a consultation by the U.K. Intellectual Property Office (IPO), a majority of respondents supported the increase in the maximum fine, known as an exceptional statutory maxima. Respondents included the Publisher's Association, the British Phonographic Industry and the Alliance Against Intellectual Property Theft... The Open Rights Group (ORG), a digital civil-liberties organization, said that, while the commercial production of pirated works should be penalized, it would be helpful to have a 'fair use' clause built into IP legislation to prevent small-scale, domestic file-sharers being unnecessarily prosecuted. "What this shows is that there is a very real need to separate out domestic individuals who may be infringing copyright, but not making a profit, from criminal gangs engaged in industrial-scale intellectual-property infringement," Jim Killock, ORG executive director, told ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "The way things are headed with enforcement at the moment, the IPO has to be careful not to get those two groups mixed up."
2009-05-06 - Zeropaid - European Parliament Shuts the Door on Three Strikes Law
Author: DrewWilson
Summary: After a long and hard fought battle, consumer rights advocates and activists in Europe have reason to celebrate today. The back door for a graduated response toward the French proposal of a Three Strikes law has officially been effectively voted down for a third and final time. The only thing left is technical details that could pave the way to other things that could be perceived as a threat to European citizens, but the major debate surrounding three strikes is over and advocates for such a proposal have officially lost. Late last week, we reported that in a near last minute last ditch effort, the graduated response backdoor for a European-wide three strikes law was re-introduced in the European parliament. Since then, consumer rights organizations like the Open Rights group have been working very hard to round up European support for amendments that would recognize internet access as a right - an amendment that would shoot down any last remaining hope that a Three Strikes law could prevail through the European Parliament.
2009-05-05 - ITPro - Government agency denies tech monitoring plans
Author: Jennifer Scott
Summary: The Government Communciations Headquarters has denied developing technology to monitor all UK phone and internet use... The GCHQ insisted that it “does not target anyone indiscriminately” saying: "All our activities are proportionate to the threats against which we seek to guard and are subject to tests on those grounds by the Commissioners.” However Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group claimed: “The statement doesn't appear to contradict the idea that 'black boxes' to intercept communications may be installed. It simply says they don't plan to create a massive database nor monitor everyone.”


2009-04-30 - The Guardian - Is Phorm's new website really going to stop foul play?
Author: Charles Arthur
Summary: First it would have to demonstrate that there has been foul play - but judging by the website, which went live on Tuesday morning, the software company Phorm doesn't have much to go on apart from its own continuing frustration at its critics... Initial reaction, however, suggests the idea has backfired badly. And to the possible delight of libel lawyers, the site names those it calls "the main characters in the anti-Phorm campaign", including The Register website (which was the first to write about Phorm's first, potentially illegal, trial in 2007, carried out without user consent), the Open Rights Group (ORG) and a number of individuals including the IT specialist Alexander Hanff... Jim Killock, ORG's executive director, said: "It's very strange behaviour for a stockmarket-listed company to be making accusations like that."
2009-04-28 - vnunet - Experts wary of latest Big Brother comms data plans
Author: Rosalie Marshall
Summary: The government confirmed this week that its plans for retaining all communications data, including logs of phone calls, internet visits and emails, would not include the development of a £12bn centralised 'super database' to store the information. Instead, internet service providers (ISPs) and communications companies will be expected to collect and retain the data, and make it easy for public authorities to access. However, industry experts have expressed concerns over the latest plans and their impact on privacy, arguing that they could be just as harmful as the 'super-database'.... However, Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock pointed out that details of the new proposal still remain vague. He questioned what safeguards the ISPs will employ, which government departments will be allowed to view the data and when access will be allowed. The new set of powers [the government] intends to give to communication companies might be just as intrusive to individuals' privacy as the database would have been. We just don't know," said Killock.
2009-04-28 - BBC News - Home Office 'colluded with Phorm'
Author: Darren Waters
Summary:The Home Office has been accused of colluding with online ad firm Phorm on "informal guidance" to the public on whether the company's service is legal. E-mails between the ministry and Phorm show the department asking if the firm would be "comforted" by its position. Jim Killock, executive director of privacy campaigners, the Open Rights Group, said: "The Home Office's job is to uphold the law: not to reinterpret it for commercial interests. It's extraordinary, when you think of the blatant disregard Phorm showed towards UK laws in its secret trials, that this sort of lax attitude should be shown."
2009-04-27 - vnunet - Blocking Phorm won't stop it, warns privacy group
Author: Rosalie Marshall
Summary: A data protection group has warned that opting out of Phorm will not prevent the technology from processing data that users enter through web site search portals. Companies such as Amazon, Wikipedia and LiveJournal have taken the decision to block the controversial advertising technology from scanning their sites because of the privacy implications. However, Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock has since admitted that, even if web sites opt out of the programme, ISPs supporting Phorm will still be able to profile users visiting those sites. "This is because Phorm can scan search requests entered in those sites, even if it cannot detect the web site pages users are viewing," Killock said. "For example, even if Google opts out of Webwise, when a user types in a Google query and they are using BT, it will still go through Phorm before it reaches BT." Killock added that Phorm does not gain permission from either senders or receivers of the information before it processes the data.
2009-04-27 - Ars Technica - EU extends musical copyrights by 20 years, eyes movies next
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: The European Parliament late last week agreed to extend musical copyrights from their current 50-year term to 70 years. So all that early rock 'n roll about to pass into the public domain? Don't count on using it in your documentary for another two decades—and there's nothing to say that the term won't be extended again. But, according to the UK-based Open Rights Group, this isn't about session musicians anyway. Writing in the Telegraph recently, the group's executive director said, "That argument is hard to swallow. Firstly, two-thirds of the money that a recording generates is made in the first six years after publication. We might conclude that if artists want to survive in their later years, record companies should ensure they invest in a pension, not depend of the vague hope of earnings from ancient recordings. Secondly, an analysis of the figures shows where the money really ends up. About 80 percent will go to recording companies. Of the rest, nearly all would go to big stars, and a very small percentage to the small artists the Directive claims to be all about."
2009-04-22 - iTWire - Amazon and Wikipedia phactor Phorm out of the privacy equation
Author: Davey Winder
Summary: Even if the UK Government is not going to stop Phorm spying on Internet users on privacy grounds, it looks like some of the biggest brands on the Web will... It all really kicked off when privacy campaigners the Open Rights Group sent an open letter to some of the biggest Internet brands last month, a letter which laid out its argument why they should boycott Phorm on user privacy grounds. Now it would appear that a number of those brands agree, Amazon and LiveJournal amongst them, and have decided to opt out of the Phorm Webwise system altogether. Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group says "...these firms have taken the positive choice to protect their users’ privacy and their own brands. We expect more sites to block Webwise in the near future and also call on ISPs to drop plans to snoop on web users."
2009-04-20 - MediaPost - Wikipedia Opts Out Of Phorm BT Scanning
Author: Wendy Davis
Summary: Controversial ad company Phorm suffered another blow last week when online encyclopedia Wikipedia opted out of the company's behavioral targeting platform... Last month, the U.K. digital rights organization Open Rights Group urged major Web companies including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, AOL, Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay to opt out of Phorm. "You may have concerns of your own; that a third party will be processing the contents of your website, without asking your permission, in order to construct profiles of your customers," the group wrote in an open letter to the companies. "We strongly believe that it is clearly in your company's interest, it is in the interests of all of your customers, and it will serve to protect your brand's reputation, if you insist that the Phorm/Webwise system does not process any data that passes to or from your website."
2009-04-15 - Music Week - Open Rights slams copyright
Author: Stephen Eddie
Summary: The UK has the worst copyright laws “by far” according to a survey carried out by Consumer Focus and digital rights campaigners the Open Rights Group. The Intellectual Property Watch List looked at how well 16 country’s laws balanced the interests of consumers and copyright holders. And it claims the UK ranked worst, above countries with major piracy problems such as China, India and South Korea... Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock says, "It is ridiculous to ban copying, sampling and parody without payment, yet that is how the law stands today. The Government is undermining copyright's reputation by failing to give clear rights to users in a changed digital world, where we all rip, mix and burn.”
2009-04-15 - Islington Gazette - Campaigners aim to protect 'digital rights'
Summary: DIGITAL privacy campaigners are holding a meeting in Clerkenwell to discuss the rise of the "database state" and its consequences.... Mr Doctorow said: "Charles Stross and I are doing a benefit talk for the Open Rights Group entitled 'Resisting the all-seeing eye'. The ORG is a damned worthy cause, especially in this era of ubiquitous surveillance."... An ORG spokesman said: "With the rise of the database state and firms profiting from user-profiling, it's vital to resist surveillance and ensure the integrity of your digital personality.
2009-04-14 - BBC News - EC starts legal action over Phorm
Author: Darren Waters
Summary: The European Commission has started legal action against Britain over the online advertising technology Phorm. It follows complaints to the EC over how the behavioural advertising service was tested on BT's broadband network without the consent of users... Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group said: "There are big legal questions surrounding BT's use of Phorm, so we welcome the EU taking the government to task. BT should respect everyone's privacy and drop their plans to snoop on the internet before they damage their own reputation further. Websites should protect their users and block Phorm now."


2009-03-12 - ClickZ - U.K. Parliament Debates ISP-Based Behavioral Targeting
Author: Jack Marshall
Summary: At a parliamentary roundtable event in the House of Commons yesterday, Members of Parliament, Lords, and industry experts met to discuss the privacy implications concerning ISP-level behavioral targeting from companies such as Phorm and NebuAd. The intention of the session, which was hosted by Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Baroness Sue Miller, was to "inform parliamentarians" on the issues surrounding the controversial practice... Richard Clayton, treasurer for the Foundation for Information Policy Research, agreed that ISPs had no business in intercepting user communications, stating, "Providing better ads is not the role of the ISP. It's not lawful." Meanwhile, Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, argued the practice would "undermine our confidence in governments to preserve our basic human rights," and suggested that commercial pressures would eventually lead to richer, potentially more revealing data being utilized.
2009-03-09 - IT Pro - Government scraps data sharing plans
Author: Miya Knights
Summary: Jack Straw has bowed to pressure from civil liberty groups and public sector bodies, including the Information Commissioner, to scrap controversial clause 152 in the Justice Bill. Justice Secretary Jack Straw decided to shelve plans to use citizen information obtained for other purposes under the Data Protection Act (DPA) in the fight against terrorism and crime, as outlined in Clause 152 of the bill... The Open Rights Group thanked all of its members who responded to its call to write to their MPs on the issue, calling the clause “a profound threat to privacy, liberty and the rule of law”.
2009-03-05 - The Register - Industry’s behavioural ad guidelines criticised
Summary: The trade body for the online advertising industry has produced guidelines for companies to follow to ensure that behavioural advertising does not breach users' rights to privacy. Privacy activists have said the rules do not protect users enough. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has published the guidelines and Google, Microsoft Advertising, Yahoo! SARL and Phorm have all committed to following them. The IAB said that signatories have six months in which to comply with the rules... Digital rights body the Open Rights Group (ORG) said, though, that the protections offered by the rules were not good enough for users of the web. In a statement on the body’s blog, executive director Jim Killock said that the way that the rules say users should opt out of the system is a problem. “The sites using behavioural advertising are likely to be operating via cookies. Any ‘opt out’ would be stored by a cookie. So each time a user deletes their cookies, or changes browser or machine, they have to opt out,” he said. “This makes opting out a repeated procedure, such that which would make all but the most stubborn user simply give their consent. This is not how consent should work, and a system that ‘pesters’ users into opting in is in our view an illegitimate attempt to substitute acquiescence for consent, whereas nothing but consent is acceptable,” said Killock. “If users want more relevant advertising, and this is to be achieved by allocating them to ‘segments‘, why not let them choose the segments they want to belong to? We do not accept the claim that behavioural surveillance for profiling is a service to users,” said Killock.
2009-03-04 - - Information Commissioner to increase technology staff
Author: Rosalie Marshall
Summary: The UK's data privacy watchdog has revealed that it plans to hire more computer experts, after conceding that it needs to bolster its technical expertise in a bid to deal with new statutory responsibilities and advances in technology. A public meeting held on Saturday to discuss issues surrounding data protection concluded that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) needs more technical expertise if it is to police the growing number of databases holding UK citizens' private data... Chairing the discussion was Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. He said that David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner, was asked why the ICO had not hired more computer science graduates to bolster its expertise.


2009-02-11 - Ars Technica - Phorm: damn the EU, full speed ahead!
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: The EU has some tough questions for the UK government about why it never prosecuted advertising firm Phorm for its secret trials. Not that Phorm sounds worried; the company's CEO pledges the system will be live in the UK by the end of 2009. Phorm—even the name conjures up "phear" among opponents of the company's targeted advertising technology. But what does Phorm say about itself? Its stated goal is "to create a new, more responsive, intuitive kind of Internet experience, and that sounds hard to beat. But the EU has some hard questions about the way the company has gone about its business, and it wants answers that the UK government appears strangely unwilling to provide... The rules sound like a good start, especially when compared to the less-than-robust "notification" processes we saw in the NebuAd trials. But the UK's Open Rights Group complains that no one is even talking about a huge legal issue: does Phorm need the permission of both the users and the websites that they visit in order to legally intercept communications? "Unless the ISPs employing Phorm’s technology to intercept the communications between their customers and the owners of the websites their customers are visiting have the explicit consent of both parties," said the group last year, "they are likely to be committing an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), the legislation that governs interception of communications in the UK."
2009-02-09 - BBC News - Warning over 'surveillance state'
Summary: Electronic surveillance and collection of personal data are "pervasive" in British society and threaten to undermine democracy, peers have warned. CCTV cameras and the DNA database were two examples of threats to privacy, the Lords constitution committee said. It called for compensation for people subject to illegal surveillance... Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, urged the government to "reassert" its control over the use of data. He said: "Governments tend to think that gathering new information on citizens is a good thing. But that's not true if our privacy is undermined and our data isn't secure. We need to see privacy by design: you can't bolt on privacy at the end of big government IT projects, we need privacy safeguards built into systems right at the start."
2009-02-02 - Guardian - Your ISP is watching you
Author: Becky Hodge
Summary: A man walks through a shopping precinct. Tiny cameras capture his every move. If he so much as turns his head to glimpse into a shop window, that action is recorded, next to a reference number that identifies him uniquely among the many shoppers around him. As he walks through the crowded mall, the advertising billboards subtly change to suit his profile, flashing aeroplanes and knitted sweaters to replace the beach towels and lipstick intended for the woman in front of him. He ducks out of the precinct, looks around him, then walks down a side street to the door of a VD clinic. But the cameras are still watching him. Silently, passively. But watching him all the same ... Thanks to hard work from campaigners at the Foundation for Information Policy Research and the Open Rights Group, and activists at and, we now have that choice. The Information Commissioner's Office has ruled that BT must ask the explicit permission of its customers to "opt in" before enrolling them into its Webwise trial (rather than the pernicious "opt out" clauses so beloved of marketers and junk mail operatives). Here's why I think every last one of those customers should actively count themselves out.


2009-01-30 - Computer Buyer - Digital Britain: ISPs to expose file sharers
Author: Simon Aughton
Summary: ISPs will be required to reveal the identity of persistent file sharers under new proposals published by the UK government. ... The Open Rights Group disagrees, saying that the report marginalises consumers. "We are concerned that there is no suggestion that consumers and citizens should be represented on the proposed copyright 'Rights Agency'. Without our voices, such an agency could easily be dominated by industry's concerns at the expense of civil rights. Consumer would be very likely to get a bad deal," said executive director Jim Killock. He notes that while digital music providers like iTunes and Amazon are moving away from DRM and trusting their customers, the government continues to seek technical ’solutions’ for copyright enforcement. "Technical 'solutions' to social issues tend to be expensive and fail," he said, adding that ORG intends to closely examine the proposals for forcing ISPs to report alleged rights infringers. "While we welcome the proposal to ask the courts before taking action, we are concerned at the potential for further erosion of privacy online," he said.
2009-01-30 - BBC News - Firms back data protection pledge
Summary: Firms are being encouraged to back a pledge to safeguard the data they hold about citizens and customers... "It would be really good to see signatories agree to having spot checks made by the ICO," said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. "That's what happens other European countries, where their data protection watchdogs have real teeth. Given recent government data leaks, it would give us all a lot more confidence if the ICO could walk in and check that our personal information is being kept safely," he said.
2009-01-29 - - Privacy activists first to criticise Carter
Author: David Meyer
Summary: The first reactions to Lord Carter's interim Digital Britain report have been flooding in, and almost all have been packed with as many fuzzy platitudes as the report itself. Almost... Perhaps predictably, given the government's stated intention to force ISPs to effectively turn over user data to the record industry regarding filesharing, the Open Rights Group has a bone or two to pick with Carter & Co. "We are extremely concerned that the voice of consumers and citizens is being marginalised," said ORG executive director Jim Killock in a statement.
2009-01-29 - Ars Technica - "Digital Britain" to legislate graduated response for ISPs
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: The UK has officially announced its intention to legislate a "graduated response" system for P2P copyright infringement, though it sounds remarkably balanced compared to some proposals; the government insists that the "availability of legal content in the forms that consumers want" is actually the most important step content owners can take to address the problem. Disconnection of users without a court order appears not to be on the table, either... The Open Rights Group, which is still working through the report, is already expressing concern that consumers' views aren't being reflected. "We are concerned that there is no suggestion that consumers and citizens should be represented on the proposed copyright 'Rights Agency'," says the group. "Without our voices, such an agency could easily be dominated by industry’s concerns at the expense of civil rights. Consumer[s] would be very likely to get a bad deal."
2009-01-29 - BBC News - Mixed reaction to digital plans
Summary: Reaction to the publication of Lord Carter's interim report on Digital Britain has been swift. The 86-page report sets out ambitious targets for the government to make broadband ubiquitous across the UK, reform radio spectrum, and sort out public broadcasting... Other parts of the plans worried some activists. In particular, plans to more closely police what people do when there is broadband running at higher speeds has raised concerns with the UK's Open Rights Group (ORG)... "We are concerned that there is no suggestion that consumers and citizens should be represented on the proposed copyright Rights Agency," said Jim Killock, director of the ORG. "Without our voices, such an agency could easily be dominated by industry's concerns - at the expense of consumer and civil rights," he said. "Consumers would be very likely to get a bad deal." He added: "We also intend to look closely at proposals for recording and reporting alleged rights infringers. While we welcome the proposal to ask the courts before taking action, we are concerned at the potential for further erosion of privacy online."
2009-01-20 - MediaWeek - Media industry should not encourage brands to behave illegally
Author: Tess Alps
Summary: How would you feel if you uploaded a video of your toddler dancing to a track, only to find yourself being sued for infringement of copyright by the major media corporation that owned it? This is just one example of many challenges that copyright protection is facing. At the recent Westminster Media Forum seminar Digital Britain, Becky Hogge from the Open Rights Group did her best to claim the moral high ground on behalf of consumers by using that true toddler story above (Prince/Universal) and another about a knitting pattern for an Ood (an alien race in Dr Who) published online, where the rights belonged to BBC Worldwide, owner of Dr Who.
2009-01-16 - BBC News - Legal downloads swamped by piracy
Summary: Ninety-five per cent of music downloaded online is illegal, a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has said. The global music trade body said this is its biggest challenge as artists and record companies miss out on payments... Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said: "We are worried by the recording industry's desire to clamp down on illicit file sharers. "We need to see how much better these companies do by getting their services right before governments start pushing drastic and draconian laws forward." He added: "Growing online sales show the recording industry can win against illicit file sharing. If companies go further and offer the same sort of experience as P2P then they will win new revenues, and reduce copyright infringement, which we would welcome."
2009-01-15 - ZDNet - Campaign calls for diversity in engineering
Author: David Meyer
Summary: The field of engineering is, proportionately speaking, low on women, ethnic minorities and the disabled. Ergo, the Royal Society of Engineering has launched its Diversity in Engineering Campaign, fronted by none other than the recently-honoured Professor, Dame etc Wendy Hall of the University of Southampton... It all dovetails quite nicely with another campaign, started by Open Rights Group founder Suw Charman-Anderson, to institute Ada Lovelace Day in honour of one of the pioneers of programming. Charman-Anderson hoped to sign up 1,000 bloggers to write about Lovelace on the 24th of March - she already has a hundred over target, and we're more than two months away.
2009-01-13 - BBC News - Digital rights war looms ahead
Author: Maggie Shiels
Summary: The future of digital entertainment rights could turn into a battleground for control in the coming months ... Any new generation of digital rights management is likely to be unpopular with consumers, thinks civil liberties organisation the Open Rights Group. Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said: "Consumers don't like DRM. They want to be able to play their movies on their computer, ipod, or whatever device they've bought, and DRM gets in the way. If movie sellers make it difficult for consumers to play their movies, then they will sell less films."
2009-01-11 - ZeroPaid - ZeroPaid Interviews Open Rights Group
Author: DrewWilson
Summary: Many things have been happening surrounding your rights on the internet and a number of these things are occurring in Britain. We interviewed Open Rights Group to get a better idea of what things have been like and what things might be like in 2009. It's been quite a year in 2008 for British citizens. There's plenty of issues surrounding privacy and digital rights that have been either ongoing or starting up in 2008 that almost makes it a promise that people in 2009 will see interesting things happen. In the process, the Open Rights Group (ORG) is also getting a new executive director. So, in order to catch up on what's going on, we interviewed ORG's Becky Hogge and Jim Killock.