Open Rights Groups - the first two years

Becky sez,
The Open Rights Group has published a review of its first two years of activities this morning.

Little more than two years ago, the Open Rights Group was just an idea in the heads of half a dozen individuals. Today, it is a vibrant organisation, responding to a wide array of government consultations, driving forward high-profile projects and featuring in the address book of dozens of journalists. Today we are celebrating how far we've come since the founding of an organisation Lawrence Lessig has called "the most important evidence that we pessimists were wrong".

And we're asking people in the UK to get behind the Open Rights Group with their financial support (ORG survivies on individuals donating a fiver a month) so we can meet the challenges of the year ahead, as content industries, not satisfied with controlling your devices, are seeking to control your internet connection too and the fight against the surveillance state comes to a head.

I helped found ORG and I've been incredibly proud and impressed by the brilliant work that the people who run it have accomplished. I will soon be a permanent resident of the UK (I'm coming to the end of my second visa here) and the freedom afforded by this country matters deeply to me.

Electronic voting and electronic counting
Towards the end of 2006, we added electronic voting (e-voting) to the group of issues we were actively campaigning on. The Government had announced that 2007’s English local elections would include a number of trials of e-voting and e-counting. In Scotland, all votes in the May 2007 local and regional elections would be counted electronically. ORG is fundamen- tally opposed to e-voting, because electronic voting and counting are “black box” operations – there is no way to verify that the data that enters the system is correctly processed and that the results provided at the end are an accurate representation of voter intention.

In collaboration with the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR), ORG organised three events for e-voting activists during early February, comprising a workshop, a debate and a screening of HBO’s documentary Hacking Democracy. The events drew in activists from around Europe and served as a learning exercise for ORG’s subsequent campaign, funded in part by a generous grant of £23,950 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.

ORG co-opted Jason Kitcat, a long-standing e-voting campaigner, to its ranks. Kitcat worked closely with the Electoral Commission to negotiate official Election Observer status for ORG volunteers, allowing teams to attend polling stations and watch proceedings. In all, 25 people devoted a day to democracy, committing to observing as much of the election as they were allowed to witness, and reporting their findings back to ORG. ORG provided them with full instructions on how to carry out their Election Observer duties, what to look for and how to deal with any problems with the observation mission.

Link (Thanks, Becky!)

Update: Danny O'Brien has an amazing post about this