The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based organisation that works to preserve digital rights and freedoms by campaigning on digital rights issues and by fostering a community of grassroots activists. It campaigns on numerous issues including mass surveillance, internet filtering and censorship, and intellectual property rights.
Open Rights Group poster
The organisation was started by Danny O'Brien, Cory Doctorow, Ian Brown, Rufus Pollock, James Cronin, Stefan Magdalinski, Louise Ferguson and Suw Charman after a panel discussion at Open Tech 2005. O'Brien created a pledge on PledgeBank, placed on 23 July 2005, with a deadline of 25 December 2005: "I will create a standing order of 5 pounds per month to support an organisation that will campaign for digital rights in the UK but only if 1,000 other people will too." The pledge reached 1000 people on 29 November 2005. The Open Rights Group was launched at a "sell-out" meeting in Soho, London.
The organisation, though focused on the impact of digital technology on the liberty of UK citizens, operates with an apparently wide range of interests within that category. Its interests include:
Former staff include Suw Charman-Anderson and Becky Hogge, both Executive Directors, e-voting coordinator Jason Kitcat, campaigner Peter Bradwell, grassroots campaigner Katie Sutton and administrator Katerina Maniadaki. The group's patron is Neil Gaiman. As of February 2011 they have 22,000 supporters of which 1,400 are paying contributors
Advisory council and board of directors
In addition to staff members and volunteers, there is an advisory panel of over thirty members, and a Board of Directors, which oversees the group's work, staff, fundraising and policy. The current board members are:
In January 2015, the Open Rights Group announced the formation of a Scottish Advisory Council which will be handling matters relating to Scottish digital rights and campaigns. The Advisory Council is made up of:
One of the first projects is to raise awareness and opposition to the Scottish Identity Database.
ORGCON was the first ever conference dedicated to digital rights in the UK, marketed as "a crash course in digital rights". It was held for the first time in 2010 at City University in London and included keynote talks from Cory Doctorow, politicians and similar pressure groups including Liberty, NO2ID and Big Brother Watch. ORGCON has since been held in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2019 where the keynote was given by Edward Snowden.