• How to exercise your Personal Data rights to improve outcomes for all

    BOM (Birmingham Open Media)

    Drawing on his own experiences, personal data advocate Emmanuel Lazardis (@StatLaw on Twitter) will show you how you can use your rights under the GDPR regulations to take control of your own data and put pressure on companies to treat your personal information and privacy with more respect. There'll be time to ask questions and discuss the issues Emmanuel will raise.

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  • Alternatives to Facebook & Twitter

    BOM (Birmingham Open Media)

    Event update 03/11/2018 - event rescheduled for Wednesday 21 November. Due to a scheduling clash at BOM we have had to move November's meetup from 14 to 21 November. Unfortunately, this means our invited guest speaker, Emmanuel Lazardis (@StatLaw on Twitter), will not be able to join us. Never fear, however, as regular ORG organiser Leo will still be on hand to show you some decentralised alternatives to Facebook and Twitter! There'll be time to try out these tools and to discuss recent goings on in the area of digital technology and human rights. digital rights. And don't worry, we'll be welcoming Emmanuel to Birmingham for a re-arranged meetup in February 2019. Look out for a new Meetup event going up online very soon.

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  • Find out what the Digital Charter will mean for free speech online

    The Sloman lounge, School of Computer Science

    Update, 21 March 2018 - speakers announced! We are pleased to announce our guest speakers will be Dr Dima Saber (Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University) and Dr Bharath Ganesh (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), who will be sharing their expertise in journalism and social media. ********************************************************************************* The UK Government, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, has put forward proposals for a 'Digital Charter' to support its stated objective of making the UK "the safest place to be online". While the Open Rights Group recognises the positive impact of some elements of the charter (notably investment to tackle online child sexual abuse), we have serious concerns about the impact many of the measures could have on freedom of speech online. The Government's position In the Government's own words (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/digital-charter): The Digital Charter is a rolling programme of work to agree norms and rules for the online world and put them into practice. In some cases this will be through shifting expectations of behaviour; in some we will need to agree new standards; and in others we may need to update our laws and regulations. Our starting point will be that we will have the same rights and expect the same behaviour online as we do offline. Key elements of the charter • Criminalisation of watching streamed terror propaganda - including a strengthened offence under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, prohibiting repeated viewing of online terrorist material. • Internet Safety Strategy. This is focused on regulation of social media companies and is likely to include a code of practice for social media companies to remove or address bullying, intimidating or humiliating content; an industry-wide levy on social media companies and communication service providers to fund initiatives to counter internet harm. These initiatives are intended to be voluntary; however if companies do not get involved the Government will consider legislative measures. • Crackdown on child sexual abuse. The Government has announced a £600k initiative to build a new technology to identify and remove indecent images of children. • Online hate crime hub. The idea behind this initiative is to improve the police response to the problem of hate crime online. The hub is intended to make it easier for people to report online hate crime cases to the police. Police at the hub will then assess them and assign them to local forces. They will also refer cases to online platforms so that hateful content can be removed. ORG's concerns • The lack of clear definitions over what constitutes 'hate speech', 'hate crimes' and 'harmful content'. • Impact of new streamed terror propaganda offence. Again, the Government has provided no definition of what terrorist propaganda is or what constitutes repeat viewing. The Open Rights Group and other civil society organisations are concerned that this sentence will put researchers, journalists and campaigners working on terrorism related issues at risk of prosecution. Even people who report on the existence of propaganda would be put at risk and could be discouraged. • Giving more power to private corporations. Beyond the specific points of the Charter, I am concerned about the trend towards requiring private corporations to take on policing responsibilities. In a democracy, responsibility for policing and regulating speech should rest with Government, not private entities, and any actions taken against citizens must be subject to due process. The Government's proposals risk further consolidating the power of giant internet companies and reducing the ability of citizens' to challenge decisions.

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  • Introduction to Indieweb

    BOM (Birmingham Open Media)

  • Blocked! Learn about internet filtering and how you can fight online censorship

    Mobile and broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have created filters to stop under 18s from seeing harmful content online. Unfortunately, filters block many harmless websites by mistake - even sites that are aimed at children! Often website owners don't know that this is happening. Around 3.5 million households have filters switched on, through choice, or by default. In addition, many mobile phone users have filters enabled as they are on by default. We've developed the Blocked! tool (https://www.blocked.org.uk/) to help check and report sites that shouldn't be filtered. By using the tool, not only will you be helping website owners, you will also increase transparency about how filters work and raise awareness of the problems they can cause. Join us on Monday 20 November to learn more about internet filtering in the UK and how you can use the Blocked! to help fight prevent the overblocking of websites.

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  • ORGCon 2017 digital rights conference (London)

    Friends House

    Are we at a tipping point for online abuse? Will killer robots change policing? How are extremists using the Internet and can we do anything about it? Is the Internet empowering the marginalised or the most powerful? How are the online rights of people of colour, women, and other marginalised groups being disproportionately affected by regressive laws and online abuse? What are the surveillance developments we should be worrying about next? How can open data transform government? Does the age verification of porn put our privacy and free speech at risk? These are some of the questions we will be asking at ORGCon 2017 (https://orgcon.openrightsgroup.org/). Our amazing line up of writers, technologists and experts will look at the threats we face and what we can do about them. But we'll also be talking about how the Internet has changed politics and campaigning for the good, and how we can harness this to give ordinary citizens a voice, and help to hold the powerful to account. Confirmed to speak so far: Graham Linehan, Noel Sharkey, Helen Lewis, Nighat Dad, Azmina Dhrodia, Caroline Criado-Perez, Tracy King, Jamie Bartlett, Myles Jackman, Pandora Blake, Nanjira Sambuli, Sarah Jamie Lewis, Audrey Tang and more. Book your place To book your place, please visit the ORGCon 2017 (https://orgcon.openrightsgroup.org/) website. Tickets cost £15 for members/£40 for non-members. If you're not yet a supporter, join ORG today (https://orgcon.openrightsgroup.org/2017/free-ticket-offer) for a free ticket! In addition to the main event on Saturday 4 November, ORGCon will also be running a second, smaller event on the Sunday. Day 2 (https://orgcon.openrightsgroup.org/2017/day-2) will focus on digital rights activism featuring a series of smaller concurrent talks and workshops by key experts. A full weekend pass costs £18 for members/£45 for non-members. Group travel Please get in touch if you'd like to travel down to London as a group and/or would like to arrange to stay in the same hostel/hotel. Local organiser Francis (@francisclarke (https://twitter.com/francisclarke) on Twitter) has already signed up to work as a volunteer on Day 1 of the event but isn't able to stay for the whole weekend.

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  • Halloween social

    BOM (Birmingham Open Media)

    As our next meetup falls just one day before Halloween, we couldn't resist choosing a spooky theme! We’ll be meeting in BOM for some spooky games and activities before going on for drinks at a nearby city centre pub (location TBC). Fancy dress is encouraged (but not compulsory). Looking for some inspiration for your fancy dress? Check out EFF's fun blog post, Five Halloween Costumes for Digital Rights Activists (https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/10/five-halloween-costumes-digital-rights-activists) We'll be awarding prizes for the most imaginative costumes so dress to impress! Got an idea for Halloween/digital rights crossover activity? Get in touch and we’ll add it to the mix. Icons made by Freepik (http://www.freepik.com/) from www.flaticon.com (http://www.flaticon.com/)

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  • Cybersecurity for 'real people'

    BOM (Birmingham Open Media)

    The purpose of his workshop is to offer practical cybersecurity advice that ‘real people’, not just digital geeks, can understand and apply in their daily lives. The workshop has been organised in response to recent comments made by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who justified putting pressure on WhatsApp to weaken their security standards by saying: "real people often prefer ease of use and a multitude of features to perfect, unbreakable security (http://news.sky.com/story/im-a-real-person-and-i-think-end-to-end-encryption-is-good-10970144)". The session will examine the very real threats 'real people' face to their security and privacy online and, most importantly, the practical steps people can take to protect themselves and their friends and family. We want the workshop to be as inclusive as possible and will be addressing the additional threats women, BME and LGBTQ people and other groups face when going online. By running the workshop, we aim to show ‘real people’ that they don’t have to trade their online security and safety for usability and features. We also hope our session makes the Home Secretary and other politicians realise that people do care about security and encourage them to re-think their dangerous plans to force internet companies such as WhatsApp to deliberately weaken the security of their products. Ahead of the workshop, you may find the following resources helpful: A DIY Guide to Feminist Cybersecurity Surveillance Self-Defense (https://ssd.eff.org/) Cyber Aware (https://www.cyberaware.gov.uk/) Photo: "Official portrait of Amber Rudd (https://beta.parliament.uk/media/qMwXiVIV)" by UK Parliament (https://beta.parliament.uk/) is licensed under CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode) (image modified, just a tad)

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  • De-Google-ify your life!

    BOM (Birmingham Open Media)

    Last week, the EU handed Google a record-breaking €2.42bn (£2.14bn) fine for abusing its dominance of the search engine market in building its online shopping service. Following the EU ruling, you might be wondering what you can do to reduce your dependence on Google services and, in so doing, take steps to increase your privacy. Join us on 24 July for a special workshop where we'll be offering free practical advice for replacing (or at least supplementing) Google services with independent services which do a better job of respecting your privacy and reduce your dependence on the internet giant. Some examples of how you can De-Google-ify your life Google Chrome is slick and powerful but did you know it tracks your your activities, even when you're not logged into your Google account? The Firefox browser (https://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/new/) is developed by the non-profit Mozilla and a global community of contributors. Firefox also won't drain your battery as quickly as Chrome does (https://boingboing.net/2017/06/28/reasons-to-switch-to-firefox.html). Uncomfortable with Google having every email you've sent or received since the year dot? Protonmail (https://protonmail.com/) has been developed by scientists from CERN and MIT and is on a mission to improve the security and privacy of email without compromising on usability. Fed up with Google recording everything you search for online? DuckDuckGo (https://duckduckgo.com/) doesn't store your personal information and won't follow you around the web.

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  • What does the General Election result mean for digital rights?

    BOM (Birmingham Open Media)

    After a tumultuous General Election, Theresa May looks likely to stay on as Prime Minister, albeit in drastically wounded form. In light of these changes, will the Conservatives still be able to deliver on their Manifesto promises to censor social media and weaken encryption? Will a revitalised Labour Party united around Jeremy Corbyn make a stronger case against giving up our liberties in order to combat terrorism? Join us on Monday 26 June to catch up on all the latest developments and discuss the actions the Open Rights Group should take to ensure digital rights are protected in the weeks and months ahead.

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