If you follow us on Twitter (@OpenRightsBrum), you’ve probably picked up on the fact that we’re rather excited about our next meetup on Tuesday (21 March), where we’ll be looking at how the proposed Espionage Act threatens journalism and public interest whistleblowers.
Meet Jim Killock
Our main speaker will be Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group. As well as talking about the Espionage Act there’ll be a chance to talk to Jim about other ORG campaigns, including stopping copyright trolling, fighting government plans to censor the internet, and preventing Trump getting his hands on your data. You’ll also get to ask Jim about the controversial Investigatory Powers Act (AKA the Snoopers’ Charter), which became law late last year.
For a flavour of what Jim will talk about on Tuesday, check out the article he recently wrote for Al Jazeera website, Britain attempts to brand journalists as spies:
British journalists could be treated as spies, and given up to 14 years in prison for handling state secrets, if proposals by the UK’s Law Commission become law.
In 2015, the Commission, whose remit is to review and recommend reforms to UK legislation, was asked to examine laws relating to official data. Its recommendations, published last week, suggest the definition of the offence of espionage is changed so that it is “capable of being committed by someone who not only communicates information, but also by someone who obtains or gathers information” (PDF).
It would also lift restrictions on who can commit espionage. They would no longer have to be employees of the state, but could include journalists, NGOs or whistle-blowers, who wouldn’t be able to use a public interest defence to protect themselves.
We don’t have to look further than the 2013 Snowden leaks to understand the implications of the proposed changes – in fact they can be seen as a direct attack on the newspaper that broke the story.
If you’ve not already done so, please RSVP for Tuesday’s meetup today. The event is completely free but signing up in advance helps give us an idea of likely numbers.