Open Rights Group
Formation2005, UK
TypeNon-profit organisation
PurposeLaw, Advocacy, Digital Rights
HeadquartersLondon, England
  • United Kingdom

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based organisation that works to preserve digital rights and freedoms by campaigning on digital rights issues[1] 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.[2] 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.[3][4] The Open Rights Group was launched at a "sell-out" meeting in Soho, London.[5][6]


The group has made submissions to the All Party Internet Group (APIG) inquiry into digital rights management[7][8] and the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.[9][10]

The group was honoured in the 2008 Privacy International Big Brother Awards alongside No2ID, Liberty, Genewatch UK and others, as a recognition of their efforts to keep state and corporate mass surveillance at bay.[11]

In 2010 the group worked with 38 Degrees[12] to oppose the introduction of the Digital Economy Act, which was passed in April 2010.[13]

The group opposes measures in the draft Online Safety Bill introduced in 2021, that it sees as infringing free speech rights and online anonymity.[14][15][16]

The group campaigns against the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's plan to switch to an opt-out model for cookies. The group spokesperson stated that "[t]he UK government propose to make online spying the default option" in response to the proposed switch.[17]


Areas of interest

Cory Doctorow talks at ORGCon 2012 about the UK Government's Communications Data Bill 2012.

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:[18][19]

Access to knowledge

Free speech and censorship

Government and democracy

Privacy, surveillance and censorship


ORG has a paid staff,[20] whose members 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.[21] The group's patron is Neil Gaiman.[22] As of October 2019 the group had over 3,000 paying supporters.[23]

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.[24] 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:

From the existing UK Advisory Council:

And from the Open Rights Group Board:

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,[25] 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.

See also


  1. ^ Knowles, Tom (19 October 2021). "'David's Law' on online anonymity won't work, say privacy campaigners - News". The Times. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  2. ^ Open Tech 2005 schedule Archived 15 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine, 23 July 2005
  3. ^ Archived 29 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine, 23 July 2005 – 25 December 2005
  4. ^ Getting out more Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Danny O'Brien's blog post floating the idea and advertising the pledge
  5. ^ ORG digital rights event update Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Open Rights Group blog, 29 November 2005
  6. ^ Invitation to attend ‘Digital Rights in the UK: Your Rights, Your Issues’ Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Open Rights Group blog, 16 November 2005
  7. ^ MPs in digital downloads warning, BBC News Online, 4 June 2006
  8. ^ ORG submission to the APIG inquiry into DRM, Open Rights Group wiki, 3 January 2006
  9. ^ Chancellor announces intellectual property review Archived 4 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine, HM Treasury press release, 2 December 2005
  10. ^ ORG submission to the Gowers Review, Open Rights Group wiki, 30 May 2006
  11. ^ Big Brother Awards UK 2008, 12 December 2008
  12. ^ "Controversial UK anti-piracy law finally passed". BBC. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  13. ^ "Controversial UK anti-piracy law finally passed". Telecoms Europe. Retrieved 9 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Scott, Jennifer (19 October 2021). "Can Online Safety Bill tackle social media abuse of MPs?". BBC News. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  15. ^ Burns, Heather (26 May 2021). "Why the online safety bill threatens our civil liberties". Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  16. ^ Wakefield, Jane (12 May 2021). "Government lays out plans to protect users online". BBC News. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  17. ^ Milmo, Dan (17 June 2022). "UK plan to scrap cookie consent boxes will make it 'easier to spy' on web users". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  18. ^ ORG issues and interests Archived 9 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Open Rights Group website, last visited 30 May 2008
  19. ^ Digital rights issues Archived 5 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Open Rights Group website, last visited 30 May 2008
  20. ^ "Open Rights Group Staff". Open Rights Group. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  21. ^ "Open Rights Group Former Staff". Open Rights Group. Archived from the original on 21 June 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  22. ^ "Open Rights Group Patron". Open Rights Group. Archived from the original on 21 November 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  23. ^ "Annual Report 2019". Open Rights Group. 1 September 2020. Archived from the original on 17 January 2021. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Open Rights Group Board". Open Rights Group. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  25. ^ "ORGCon: London, July 24 – book now!". BoingBoing. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.